EGYPT - مصر
by Miodrag Colic - 5 years, 1 month ago
I listen to Richard Burton’s story about the history of this country in the spectacle ‘Sound and Light’, where the Sphinx changes colour under different lights and the sounds announce the arrival of Cleopatra, her retinue and the Egyptian army. Following that, I climb the huge chipped blocks half way up the Great Pyramid, because in the early eighties of the last century, that was still allowed, although it was not recommended. Cosy on a warm stone, I watch Cairo in the distance and wait for dawn. Green neon light from the mosques blends with the purple of the sky, while the muezzin’s call to the faithful can be heard from numerous minarets. This scene, from my youth, is my most memorable experience of Cairo and I described it in a poem, at the time when I was writing poetry. I visited Egypt only weeks after watching Death on the Nile, when I promised myself I had to see that country. I was imagining the scene where the protagonists, with the famous detective in the lead, leave the felucca boat and enter the old colonial hotel, The Old Cataract, while wondering if the Nile was really all that blue in Aswan. I actually found out that it was blue, many years later as I was watching this wondrous river from a window in that same hotel. A mild breeze carries hundreds of felucca boats on the azure waves of the Nile around the island of Elephantine, with its temple. The sunset in that setting is a feast for all senses, especially if you have been served coffee with cardamom and you are enjoying it on the balcony.
Cruising down the river from Luxor to Aswan, experiencing the history of Egypt in the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the temples of Karnak and Luxor, or finally the monumental Abu Simbel and the Pyramids in Giza, all of this is to do with the Nile, this most important African river. Same now as ever. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo gives a comprehensive image of one of the world’s biggest civilisations, as do, sadly, many other museums and private collections where a lot of this cultural heritage has ended.
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell tells us a lot about Alexandria, a very unique city; Port Said at the Delta of the Nile conceals many machinations linked to adventure, love or politics, unavoidable when passing through the Suez Canal, and the Mount Sinai guards the secret of Saint Catherine’s Monastery. The Red Sea is a delight to be enjoyed.