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

eenentwintigenonline: Er zijn altijd een paar goede content alleen over hoe het beheer...

Mark Sandell: Hello, i’m putting together a Magic Bus/Hippie Trail documentary...

Frank: Does the global entry screen ask what country you are returning from and did you...

ask: It’s impressive that you are getting ideas from this piece of writing as...

medodeal India: Be wise health wise www.medodeal.com your healthcare destination

Roger: First of all, I want to commend you for going to Cuba. I wouldn’t mind...

Christian: This is all too true, especially for the shoe string traveler. The type of...

Mike Mentz: Love this, Rolf. Thoughtful and well-written. Really enjoyed it. Cheers,...

Mortal Kombat X Cheats Android: Stay tuned for more information involving Mortal Kombat...

Paul Morgan: No disrespect , but you are a tourist.

SPONSORED BY :



CATEGORIES

TRAVEL LINKS

ARCHIVES

RECENT ENTRIES

Vagabonding Field Report: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
There is no conflict between tourism and traveling
Review on Tortuga Air Carry On Backpack
Dancing at the Blood Festival
Vagabonding Case Study: Troy Whitmarsh
Breeze through U.S. airport lines with TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry
Seeing Thailand in Black and White
The art of body language is an essential travel skill
How to choose and use packing cubes
Vagabonding Field Report: Getting Ready to Sail the Seas on the Oliver Hazard Perry


Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts