The longest river in the world, the Nile, flows through the north-western area of Africa, and then into the Mediterranean Sea.
Great civilizations have always flourished alongside rivers, but the Egyptian civilization, which started on the Nile, is the most fascinating and mysterious in the history of mankind.
The Nile valley is a fertile one where there is an abundance of water and sun, elements which the ancient Egyptian believed were gods, they called the sun Amon and the Nile Apis.
Memphis was the first great capital of Egypt, united as a single kingdom in the third millennium B.C..But the Nile burst its banks a few centuries ago, flooding the ancient capital.
The river however has given more than it has taken, enough to make Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian say: Egypt is a gift from the Nile.
The annual floods left precious silt on the fields, a miraculous natural fertilizer which made the crops grow luxuriantly.
This instrument, called a Nilometer was used by the ancient Pharaohs to establish how high the periodic floods would be. The Nilometer, on the presupposition that the harvest would be plentiful, was nothing other than a device for setting income tax level.
The date palm is without a doubt the plant which characterizes Egyptian agriculture more than anything else. The peasants use it to make roofs, to construct furniture, to weave baskets; but above all the sweetest fruit on earth grows on the palm: the date.
On display are the souks. Red dates can be purchased here. They are dry and crunchy, less sweet than the others; the semi-sweet ones have all the shades of orange; the brown and the black ones are very soft, and their sugar seems to dissolve in your mouth.
If the Nile yields simple, raw materials, the inspiration of its people gives rise to one of the most perfumed, flavorsome and colorful cuisine in North Africa. Food in Egypt is hot and spicy, drenched in sauces.
The national dish is fouhl, a fragrant soup of beans which is sold on every street corner.
Egyptians tend to wash down these libations with black tea. Non-Muslims also enjoy the fine local wines and beer, whose origins are actually Egyptian. Ever since the 3rd dynasty drinking it while eating bread was considered a good omen.
What we are seeing is the village near Luxor, which is characterized by the typical houses built with mud and straw.
Some of these houses have been painted with colorful drawings, which are very curious. Aeroplanes, departures, ships and scenes from journeys. These painted walls tell us about the Islamic custom of going on a pilgrimage to Mecca. A duty which should be carried out at least once in a lifetime, an event that is to be passed down to descendants with a vivid fresco.
The population on the Nile has grown at a dizzying rate, giving rise to a great metropolis of the size of Cairo the second most populous city in the world.
To see the swarming crowds in the capital it would seem that the lesson of Ramese II, whose colossal stature is located near Cairo's Central Station, is still alive in Egypt. Ramses II had more than a hundred children and in Egypt today a baby is born every 20 seconds. The population is very young and half of its 54 million inhabitants are under 20 years old.
The crowds in Cairo, the hustle and bustle of the typical souk, are an unmissable spectacle for people arriving in Egypt, a brilliant contrast to the mysterious charm of the monuments of the Pharaohs.
These solemn states are almost participants in modern life. You can almost find your ideas about the Nile reflected in their eyes.