Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

(Upper) Egypt - Aswan

Dedicated to Flies

My sister has commented that on some days we are flies, on others we are windscreens. Oh what a windscreen I have been today!

The morning began shaving in an orange sunrise, watching the farms and villages zip by alongside the Nile, from the comfort of a private cabin in the sleeper train from Cairo to Aswan.

The day was spent with Mum as Dad met the Governor and attended to other work matters. We set out on a slow white motorboat (too little wind for a more picturesque fellucca) and explored the lush Botanic Garden island, a peaceful and genuine Nubian village (this region is Nubia, Nubians live here. Logically, they speak Nubi, which is distinctly different to Arabic), and generally puttered about on the water. Later, we admired a spectacular sunset over the dunes and tombs, as seemingly endless flocks of black cormorants crossed overhead in loose V formations. Egyptian beer in hand, live Nubian music drifting up from the restaurant nearby (accompanied by drummers from the village and children singing from the riverboats), it was one of several classic GT moments of the day.

The evening was spent on an extensive tour of the Nubian Museum. As Dad put it, "What do you do when you build a dam that destroys a people's cultural heritage on a vast scale? Put what's left of it in a museum." Great exhibits, well designed layout, good English translations on the large text panels. Particularly liked the archival photographs of important sites now destroyed by the rising waters of the dam - it had all the symbolism I normally associate with War Memorials, a sense of profound and irreplaceable loss, contrasted against the idealism and optimistic tone of the exhibits dedicated to the international efforts to salvage sites like Abu Simbel. (Which I'll be seeing tommorrow).

On that note, I must update my diary and get in another few chapters of Alan Moorehead's The White Nile, which I've been reading in the world's most apt surroundings.


Post a Comment

<< Home