May 2, 2012

Coming from the Desert, 1483 | Walking Through Egypt

Coming from the Desert, 1483
Friar Felix Fabri
Egyptian Desert
Without warning the hoped-for moment arrived. From the edge of a plateau we looked down to where, over against us, far below, lay a country of a different kind . . . from our barren and enormous waste. For we looked down upon a part of Egypt, a kindly land. . . . And seeing it we were seized with both joy and amazement: with joy because we saw the end of the dreadful wilderness, men’s dwellings, plentiful water, and many other things we had lacked in the desert. Yet amazement too, because we looked at a strange land. For we saw a great gathering of waters, as if it had been the sea, and high above those waters grew groves of tall palms, and other fruitful trees, and towers and other lofty buildings rose from the waters, towns and villages stood wonderfully in the midst of the waters .... For it was the time of the rising of the Nile, which river, leaving his bed, enriches and irrigates the whole of Egypt.

Western travelers arriving in Alexandria were often seeing for the first time a place truly ‘foreign’ to them with buildings and people totally unfamiliar, and even with unfamiliar sounds and language. William C. Prime was one suchand his first night was disturbed by all this ‘strangeness.’

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