The mood : Nile Valley in June, Egypt

A couple of years ago we sailed along the Nile under the most biblical heat I had experienced. To my surprise, I managed to survive reasonably well this 47 degrees sun, which has now become to me a sort of reference point of what pure, oven-like heat is like. What better moment to reminisce about this time than during this relentless Parisian summer, where the constant heat has even changed the smell of the city and where paved streets under the afternoon sun have started to exhale the same perfume as in India.

But back to that mythical Nile Valley. We could talk about the ruins, of course, and I did already show you a bit of them here, here and there. Yet, in between the visits to these grand, almost empty, temples, I kept wondering about what was surrounding them. How could you not be curious about a country that was close to being blacklisted for tourists, about the ghosts of a tourism industry that used to be a reckless, big-scale operation, and most of all about what could remain of the original beauty of such a piece of heaven, here on the fertile shores of that ageless river.

Exploring what used to be this major destination was a kind of archaeology in itself. Souvenir shops, cruise boats, promenades, all were left to slowly decay under the merciless sun, gaining a patina they never dreamed of having before finally turning to ruins. Forgotten billboards, beaten vending machines and rocky mountains in the background, after a while, the scenes they created started to strangely echo classic western landscapes to me. It felt like the emptiness and the crippling temperatures seemed to return the place to the contemplative state it was undoubtedly meant for.

 

More pictures of Egypt here.
I went to Egypt with Voyageurs du Monde.

Il y a deux ans, nous descendions doucement le long Nil sous une chaleur biblique. Je ne garde pourtant pas un souvenir si terrifiant de ces 47 degrés qui me semblent pourtant à nouveau inimaginables rien qu’à écrire le fameux chiffre. Ils sont depuis devenus une sorte de référence de ce que peut être le paroxysme d’une chaleur pure, celle qui vous étourdit et dessèche tout sur son passage. La chaleur pourtant sévère qui sévit à Paris ces jours-ci, celle-là même qui va jusqu’à changer le parfum de la ville et à donner aux rues pavées une odeur de métropole indienne surchauffée, ne tient pas la comparaison mais me rappelle quand même à ces quelques jours dans la fournaise égyptienne.

Cette vallée du Nil, on le sait, c’est surtout celle de ces ruines irréelles, dont je vous ai déjà montré des morceaux ici, ici et ici. Pourtant, à mesure que les visites sur ces lieux grandioses s’enchaînaient, ma curiosité pour ce qui les entourait ne faisait que grandir. Comment ne pas s’interroger sur le visage d’un pays au bord de la liste noire pour les touristes, d’une vallée mythique et sur-exploitée devenue fantôme, et surtout de ce qui pouvait rester de la beauté originelle d’un tel morceau de paradis, sur les rives fertiles de ce fleuve sans âge. 

Naviguer au milieu des restes de cette industrie touristique abandonnée était un exercice d’archéologie à lui seul. Les boutiques de souvenirs, les bateaux de croisière, les promenades plantées, tous étaient laissés à la merci d’un soleil implacable qui allait leur donner une patine dont ils n’auraient pas osé rêver, avant de les transformer une fois pour toutes en ruines. Les panneaux d’affichage oubliés, les distributeurs de boissons hors d’âge, ces montagnes rocheuses à l’arrière-plan, à trop les regarder, je finissais même par leur trouver des airs de western à l’Égyptienne. L’impression de vide conjuguée à la chaleur paralysante ramenait le paysage à la contemplation pour laquelle il avait été sans nul doute été dessiné.

Plus d’images d’Egypte ici.
Je suis partie en Egypte avec Voyageurs du Monde.

3 Comments

  • Reply August 8, 2018

    Anoop Aswal

    Very nice and simple account of your journey.. keep it up…
    Kindly give your valuable suggestions for my new travelogue on the toughest pilgrimage of India

    hikingthekailash.blogspot.com
    shytravellor.wordpress.com

  • Reply August 7, 2019

    Dave

    The land of the Pharaohs. Great read. What I love about Egypt the most are the ancient ruins, architecture and pyramids.

  • Reply October 14, 2019

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