Monday. We leave Wadi Halfa at about noon - the boat has its mast felt.

March 25th, 2014, 12pm

Monday. We leave Wadi Halfa at about noon - the boat has its mast felt. In the evening, stopped in the middle of the river. We walk at moonlight on a long sandy islet, where we talk about Hennet de Kesler [A friend of Maxime Du Camp]

Abu Simbel. The colossal statues - the sun seen through the Great Temple’s door half filled with sand. As if through a light well. At the back, three colossus glimpsed in the shadow. Laying on the ground, the first colossus on the right, because my eyes were blinking, seemed like it had moved its eyelids - beautiful heads, ugly feet.

The bats make their high pitched squeaks - for a while another beast was shouting with regularity, and was like the distant ringing of a country clock. I thought about the country farms in Normandy, in the summer, when everyone is in the fields, at three in the afternoon… - and about King Mykerinos driving in his chariot, one evening, around lake Moeris with a priest seated at his side. He talks to him about his love for his daughter. It’s an harvest-time evening; the buffaloes come home.

Tried to do some impressing.

Small temple. On the pillars, faces like wigs spiked on wood mushrooms. A block of masonry, covered in demotic writings, between the third and fourth colossuses on the left when coming in. What does it mean? In the great temple, left nave, beautiful representations of chariots. The head ornaments of the horses are complicated and the horses usually long and saddled.

On Holy Thursday we begin the excavation work to clear the chin of a colossus outside. Friday. Excavation work: “awafi, awafi”, arched back of a small negro with curly hair, ugly (eyes damaged by the dust), who was carrying a pot with milk on his head. In the small temple, numerous wasps cells, especially in the corners.

Thinking: the Egyptians temples bore me. Will this become like the churches in Britany, like the cascades in the Pyrénées? Oh! Necessity! To do what needs to be done: to always be, according to the circumstances (and notwithstanding the moment’s aversion), as a young man, a traveler, an artist, a son, a citizen, etc., should be!

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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