May 25, 2012

Through the Suez Canal | Walking Through Egypt

Through the Suez Canal, 1875
Isabel Burton

Suez Canal
The next morning we began to steam slowly up the long ditch called the Canal, and at last to the far east we caught a gladdening glimpse of the desert the wild, waterless Wilderness of Sur, with its waves and pyramids of sand catching the morning rays, with its shadows of mauve, rose pink, and lightest blue with its plains and rain-sinks, bearing brown dots which were tamarisks. The sky was heavenly blue, the water a deep band of the clearest green, the air balmy and fresh. The golden sands stretched far away; an occasional troop of Bedawin with their camels and goats passed, and reminded me of those dear, dead days at Damascus. It all came back to me with a rush. Once more I was in the East. I had not enjoyed myself so much with Nature for four years and a half. With the smell of the desert air in our nostrils, with Eastern pictures before our eyes, we were even grateful for the slowness of the pace at which we travelled. They were the pleasantest two days imaginable, like a river picnic. We reached Suez, with its faded glory, at length; and there we shipped a pious pilot, who said his prayers regularly, and carefully avoided touching my dog.

Looking toward the Other Side, 1926 
Constance Sitwel
.... what I was imagining: miles of colourless sand lying pale under the moon, and sand-coloured lions moving; and fields of blue vetch by the Nile; and the black tombs of the bulls of Apis, dark and stifling under their load of sand thick heat in there, and thick darkness, and the empty sombre passages going between the great black granite tombs, sunk deep in underground halls. And fields of beans, and fields of lupins and loose-growing sugar-cane and dense com; and behind, the rosy wall of the Libyan mountains in the jocund morning light, honeycombed with tombs full of mummies in hard painted cases; and painted halls and creamy passages, and roofs coloured with the young blue of Egypt the most adorable colour in the world.

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