Thursday, December 13, 2012

The museum is closed

I was feeling good after my first evening in Aswan.  The souq had allayed my initial fears of Aswan and given a me a good insight into life in an Egyptian city.

The next morning, I woke up early and began walking towards the Nile.  To say those words felt strange.  I was going towards "the Nile".  The famous river of so much history and so many stories.  I was now just one of many travelers through the centuries who had come to Egypt and looked at the Nile with the same feelings of awe and curiosity.  Whenever I have been at historically significant locations such as this, I have always had a feeling of being connected with the past.  It feels as though I am now becoming part of a historical chain of events that is far greater than myself.

I reached the corniche and stared out at the fast moving waters of the Nile.  It was a beautiful day and there couldn't have been a more picturesque scene with the feluccas moored by the banks.
I walked towards the river and braced myself for a rush of touts.

It never came.

I was approached by a couple of  touts, but they seemed to lack enthusiasm.  One of them later sat down next to me with no intent of making a sale and began to have a casual chat.  He told me that the tourists were gone and that most of the touts had given up.  Looking down the length of the corniche, I could see the truth in his words.  To the left was the river and to the right was a row of hotels and yet there were almost no tourists to be seen.

I kept walking down the bank of the river until I found the ferry.  I hopped on, put my pound into the box in the middle of boat and took my seat.  The ferry's motor made a horrible noise and began moving me towards Elephantine Island in the middle of the river.

This was going to be my first experience with Egypt's ancient history.  There was a large museum and collection of ruins to the South of island.  This seemed like the perfect place for me to start my exploration of Egypt's history.  I walked up the hill towards the museum, which was inside an old house.  I reached the door and was told that it was closed.  I wasn't completely surprised, but consoled myself with the fact that there were still the very substantial ruins to be explored.

The ruins were indeed substantial and were once again completely deserted.
I was able to see an actual Nilometre that was used by the Egyptians to measure the height of the Nile floods.
I was able to stand on top of the old temple.
I was able to climb to a high point and look out across the expanse of the ruins.
Walking around the ruins, I was coming to a horrifying realisation .... I didn't care.

Looking at these relics to the ancient Egyptian world, I was experiencing no thrill of excitement or sense of wonder.  Staring at the ruins, I tried to muster some enthusiasm for what I was seeing, but I could feel nothing.  It just didn't interest me.  I wasn't sure whether this was because I had seen too much or if it was the result of a general lack of interest in ancient Egypt.

Whatever the reason, this was a bit of a concern as I still had another three weeks in Egypt.

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