First up at 5 a.m., I wash in front of the tent, in the canvas bucket.

December 8th, 1849, 12am

We hear a few jackals crying. Climb of the biggest pyramid (Kheops). The stone, which from a distance of 200 steps seem big as cobble stones, are nonetheless, for the smallest of them, three feet high; they usually come to one’s chest. We come up from the left angle (the one looking at the pyramid of Khephren); the Arabs push and pull me; I can’t go on, it’s dispiriting and exhausting, I stop five or six times on the way - Maxime started ahead and goes fast. At last we arrive at the top. We wait for sunlight for a good half-hour.

(…) Inside the big pyramid After lunch we visit the pyramid. It opens on the North side - plain corridor (like a sewer) into which one descends - corridor rising up again; we slip on bat shit. It seems the corridors were made to let disproportionately large coffins slide slowly. Before the king’s chamber, larger corridor with large horizontal grooves into the stone, as if someone had dropped a hearse here. King’s chamber, all of huge granite stones; empty sarcophagus at the end of the room. Queen’s room, smaller, same square shape, probably was connected to the king’s room. Going out, on all fours in a corridor, we meet English people coming in, and are in the same position. We exchange niceties and every man follows his path.

(…) After we had looked at the second pyramid, our three English came (we had invited them) to visit us in our tent: coffee, shibooks, fantasia of our Arabs, ass shaking from the old Sheik, his hands on his stick; the Arabs fall and rise, clapping with their hands and singing: “pso - malem - jara - lendar; pso - malem - jara - lendar”, which is Bedouin language and means “Let us all jump in a circle”. We had a guardian from Giza, formidable Negro, armed with a stick ended with an iron circle. From the top of the pyramid one of our guides showed us the place of the battle, and said “Napoleon - Kebir Sultan? - mamluks.” and with his two hands made a beheading gesture. At night, there’s a lot of wind - the tent shakes on its pegs, the wind strikes the sides of the canvas like a vessel’s sail.

Cassie said thanks.

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Gustave Flaubert

"Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world." [extracts from Flaubert's travel diary written in 1849-1851]

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