Sunday. Cold morning, spent working on photography. I pose at the top of the pyramid just south-east of the big pyramid.

December 9th, 1849, 12am

(…) Small caves at the bottom of the pyramids hill. They look like old cave dwellings. The rock is so shredded it looks like an animal, like shapeless vertebraes. The sand is covered and filled with human debris, black and white in the sun, bits of mummies, femurs. We pick up a few (like we did yesterday while going towards the three granite figures lying in the sand - someone had erased part of the cartouche on one of them). Scenes in mid-relief: tribes brought to a king, oxes, donkeys (perfect); at the end a big Isis and Osiris, seated, quite beautiful; the sculptures seem purer than at the hypogeum. Small, shallow cells. On the same side, another statue, erect, uncouth, the head a little in the shoulders.

We ride in the desert in the afternoon. We pass the first and the second pyramid - we soon come to a valley of sand, which seems to have been created by one big gust of wind. Great big places of stone, they seem like lava - time for gallop - we try our horns - silence. It seems to us that we’re on a beach and we’re about to see the waves; our mustaches are salted, the wind is harsh and tonic - footprints of jackals, of camels, half-erased by the wind. At the top of each sand hill we expect to discover something new and only always discover the desert. We come back. The sun sets. Green Egypt in the background; on the left, a white slope: it looks like snow. The foreground is all purple; the stones shine, literally bathed in purple light, it looks like water so transparent one cannot see it and the stones surrounded by this iced light look metallic and shine. A jackal runs away to our right - back to the tent, passing in front of the pyramid of Khephren, which seems disproportionate and going straight up; it looks like a cliff, like something from nature, like a mountain which would be made thus, like something somehow terrible and about to crush you. One should see the pyramids at sundown.

David Wade 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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