Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nubian villages and my continued isolation

The solitude I was experiencing in Egypt was starting to become a touch weird.

Peace and quiet can be nice, but the complete lack of travelers anywhere was making me feel incredibly isolated.

After my disappointing walk through the Egyptian ruins on Elephantine Island, I decided that I should do some walking into some more populated areas.  To the North of the ruins were the Nubian villages where some of the locals lived.

Wandering through the streets, I was still feeling isolated.

It was as though the villagers had been warned that I would be coming and had fled.  So instead of walking through deserted ruins or a deserted river promenade, I now found myself walking through deserted farms and villages.
After getting lost not once, but twice in the maze of side streets, I arrived at the Nubian house.  This was a private museum made by one of the locals to preserve and display the traditional Nubian way of living to outsiders and traveler such as myself.
Walking through this house silently, with its near kitsch level of colours and adornments, felt like a form of time travel.  I moved from living rooms and bedrooms that had either been never used or unused for years that were covered in a fine layer of dust and sand and then through to a menagerie of stuffed animals.
The house wanted to portray the life of the Nubians in the area, but all I could feel was a sense of death and decay.  The preservation felt more akin to something scientific and so what was left sterile and cold.  I couldn't help but think back to my childhood days when I would visit my father in his laboratory.  There was a similar silence and there was a similar smell.
I kept climbing the stairs to escape the enclosed atmosphere of the house.  On the roof, I could feel the cool breeze and the warm sun.  Looking out at the view the roof afforded, I could see the fields and the green of the trees.  I felt immediately better.  Even on the roof, I was surrounded by signs of age and decay, with broken furniture and antiquated pamphlets stream everywhere.  It didn't bother me as much as I was able to compartmentalise that and focus on the movement of the natural world around me.
It was a confronting experience to see the Nubian house and the Nubian village.  I don't know if it was positive.  This entire journey across the Nile to Elephantine Island had been one of isolation and solitude that had left me with uncomfortable images of death, decay and neglect.

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