Return to Home Page

April 22, 2010

Not going to a place (or, I’ll miss you, Nestorius)

Exit sign in Egypt

Somewhere in Egypt

The Patriarch of Constantinople may have spent some time at Al-Kharga Oasis, but I had to give it a miss. And I really, really hated to do that.

Nestorius (c.386-c.451), to simplify a complex issue, was the loser in one of the great theological controversies in Christian history, and so he found himself booted out of his patriarchate and sent deep into exile in Egypt’s desert. While Al-Kharga wasn’t the absolute end of the Earth — long before Nestorius it had been a stopover on an important trade route — it was not Cancun, nor was it Constantinople. As my guidebook says, “Its remote location, punishing summer heat and destructive winds mean the oasis was synonymous with misery and exile.”

And so I wanted to go here, not only for the potential taste of misery and exile, but because I had studied the history of these theological controversies in grad school. I wanted to see something of the landscape, the fierce heat. I wanted to sit in the old ruins outside modern Al-Kharga and imagine Nestorius remembering his days in Constantinople as that hot desert wind, so unlike the breeze off the Bosporus, blew into his face.

Unfortunately, I had a problem. Or maybe two.

After almost two weeks photographing around Luxor, the desert heat had wiped me out, and so I wondered if I really had the energy to make the day-long journey to Al-Kharga, which would have then been followed by days of wandering around (or mostly just sitting in) the ruins as temperatures soared above 100 degrees Farenheit.

More important to my decision-making, however, was simply the constraint of time. I have a Syrian visa that will expire in several weeks. In order to make use of this visa, I have to move at a certain speed so that I can reach Syria in time, which means that between here and there I need to say no to some places I’d really like to visit. Of course, even without a visa expiration date, our time is often limited as we travel. For me, saying “no” to a place which is near and which I would like to see (but can’t) is one of the challenging aspects of being on the road.

Perhaps I’ll never return to Egypt and so I’ll never see Al-Kharga. And if not, for the rest of my life, I’ll sometimes imagine what might have been had I gone there, sitting in the ruins with a notepad in my lap and fifteen liters of water by my side, and a nauseatingly hot wind blasting my face.

But while wondering, I’ll also remember this: We can’t see it all; no one ever does.

Posted by | Comments (1) 
Category: Africa, Images from the road, Notes from the collective travel mind


One Response to “Not going to a place (or, I’ll miss you, Nestorius)”

  1. Asa Says:

    You can’t see everything so I think this is just inevitable. We’ve left a lot left unseen on our trip. We spent a month in Australia and never made it to Sydney for goodness sake! I tell myself I’m leaving something for next time but I know that I may never make it back to some of the places…

Leave a Reply

Main

Bio

Books

Stories

Essays

Video

Interviews

Events

Writers

Marco

Paris

Vagabonding.net

Contact


Vagabonding Audio Book at Audible.com

Marco Polo Didnt Go There
Rolf's new book!


Vagabonding
   Vagabonding

RECENT COMMENTS

Elouise: This will allow them in school bus your agreement into writing every single...

M.Jagger: Rod, Blimey….It was a blast partying with you at the local...

Ava Collopy: I’m currently working on a new book and website project to represent...

Caroline Macomber: I’m beginning to feel that it doesn’t end. But that I...

Stephen: Does it end, though? I’ve gone through several cycles of this over the...

Margie: I will never be a tour guide, but the prospective you have shown here will help...

Lynne Nieman: Well said! Although not a long term traveler like you, I have taken a few...

Dorje: Hi all. I was born in Kathmandu in ’71, my father ran the Rose Mushroom...

Gerry: Just reading Maureen’s comments [12thMay2014], My girlfriend and I had a...

jameselgringo: Perhaps you give too much emotional capital to money and its perceived...

SPONSORED BY :



CATEGORIES

TRAVEL LINKS

ARCHIVES

RECENT ENTRIES

Lost in the crowd when traveling?
Can words hurt as much as sticks and stones?
Vagabonding Field Report: The Penguins of Phillip Island
Long term travel with a family: You have to really want to do this
Alden Jones on going back to the places that obsess you
My top beaches around the world
Skepticism and salvation in Cyprus
Vagabonding Case Study: Denise Diamond
Locked in or locked out- when switching it up means going home
Vagabonding Case Study: Christine Kaaloa


Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts