Thursday, January 4, 2007


First things first, I've got my image gallery all set up, and I've uploaded a bunch of pictures of the trip so far. Check it out at Of course, all the galleries are fascinating and excellent, but if you're in a rush, I would check out "Naqa and Musawwarat es-Sufra" and "Pyramids at Meroe". Those are the ones with ancient ruins and pyramids and hieroglyphics and cool things like that. Check 'em out, let me know what you think. I've got more pictures that I'll be putting up in the days to come.

Exploring the ruins and checking out local museums has been really cool, more so than on most trips. I love going to history museums; I could spend hours upon hours just walking through exhibits, trying to get a sense of time and contemporary historical events. I really don't know why. I get this way every time a historical article goes on to the front page of Wikipedia, as well; I'll spend hours (yes, sometimes literally) following down link after link, trying to get as much of the historical context as I possibly can. I have, of course, no interest in being a historian or the like, 'cause that smacks of actual work and sounds much more boring. But reaping the rewards of their labor is fun.

That was a tangent. What I was going to say is that it's been fascinating learning about Sudan's history. Most of the places I've gone to recently (Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Ethiopia...), I've had at least some idea of what their history was like. Sudan, though, I had no idea. I'd heard of the Kush empire, but I knew nothing at all about them. Not that the Kush empire ruled Egypt for a while (as the 25th dynasty), not that they had diplomatic dealings and war with the Romans (witness plundered head of Nero at right), nothing of the sort. Let alone history of any of the other civilizations that popped up over the years. Every so often I feel like I get a (very high-level) understanding of the broad sweep of history, and then I find out about all these things that I missed. Oh, well. More to learn later, I guess.

Random incident of the day. Leila (my sister) and Jen were out walking (to buy bread, I believe), and ran into a guy from Northern Sudan. Apparently, he was educated at Dartmouth, lived for a long time in Maryland, and his son is a DJ for UN Radio in southern Sudan. He invited them over for coffee and they spent an hour or so talking. Turns out he knows Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and worked with him on one of his Wonders of the African World episodes (presumably "Black Kingdoms of the Nile"). Weird little run-in; I'm sad I didn't decide to go on the walk.

Final note (am I writing too much? Are you getting bored reading all this? My parents' house is bare (their shipment hasn't arrived yet -- sense a trend?) so all we have to do in the evenings is watch MASH, play Scrabble, and browse the Internets. Also, I've been reading a lot of David Foster Wallace and Dave Eggers, recently, and have really gotten into prolix verbosity. Like this ridiculously long parenthetical here.). Check out the Ben Hur rickshaw! (There! The wheels!) These crazy little vehicles are suicidal taxis that you see all around town. For some reason many of them have these spiky wheel decorations. I don't know why.

PS Still no bags!


  1. Well, you should probably tell them to go ahead and forward your bags to Eugene at this point. And have Jen cry on the phone about how the stupid airline ruined her vacation because of this. Maybe you can score some free tickets or something.

    Those were some awesome pictures. And is it a little sad that I guessed who the Roman guy was (I thought Scipio Africanus), and when I read Nero, my immediate thought was Nero was way too fat to look like that. He was a famously "portly" fellow, to put it mildly. And he liked to have sex, apparently. And play some sort of instrument. Good to hear you're overcoming the luggage and enjoying everything! And it was great to see you before you left! Peace!

  2. Awesome pyramid pictures. Pity about the dickwad Italian archaelogist. Reminds me of Heinrich Schliemann, the guy who unearthed Troy. He used a bulldozer. History is now mad at him.
    Eric's probably right, you should just have the stuff forwarded to Eugene and try to squeeze some sort of refund or something out of your airline. I'll be they'd totally capitulate to a crying Jen.
    No, you're not writing too much. If anything you should keep it up. Blog, Joseph, blog! All the cool kids are doing it! You know you want to.
    I imagine the the little spikes on the taxis are utilized late at night, when all the taxi drivers show up for their no-holds-barred underground taxi street-racing club. When Khartoum sleeps, they line up their cabs, rev their engines, and zoom onto the streets in tri-wheeled death race. Really, what else could it be?

  3. :-) The bags finally arrived this morning, so no need for Jen histrionics. They did give us $100 for our trouble, which is something. Apparently this has happened before, and people have just picked up their bags in Heathrow on the way back. Glad we didn't have to resort to that!

    Re: archeology. There was actually a Dinosaur Comic about dangers of archeology a few weeks ago. My understanding is that an interest in preserving historical sites and relics is actually a relatively recent development, so ancient "archaeologists" weren't all that gentle. Doesn't make me any less pissed off at them.

    Re: Nero. I suspect that if you didn't portray Caesar in a way that Caesar found flattering, your career as an artist was somewhat shortened... My favorite anecdote about Nero is the belief (I have no idea how much credence to give this) that he was responsible for a lot of the early spread of Christianity, by transparently scapegoating the (otherwise insignificant and unheard of) sect for the burning of Rome.

    Was good to see you to, Eric. And now I'm actually reading your blog! The Internet truly brings us all closer together, in the warm glow of its light.