Her focus is his eyes so his seated body is cropped. It's damaged and distracts from what she is writing about. None of the other photographs capture the life in the glass eyes of the statue so much as hers does.
She describes on her first visit the Museum was unorganized and cluttered while her second visit the whole place was tidied up. Cairo is much larger now (population 19 million) and the museum is visited a lot more, so that is to be expected but a sore disappointment. She did not mention the famous painting "Geese of Meidum" is situated on a wall behind Mitri (the most replicated geese in the world, the geese painted in color, not even showing behind Mitri's head). [geese of meidum]
Her story is actually about travel guides. Emil, the guide she had both times. She admired his ability to get his tours into places before and after visiting times, and how the guards loved him and afforded him much greater leeway everywhere they went. His tour had the run of the entire Cairo museum the first visit, but her second visit was during regular hours among the crowd and years after the first visit when the museum was a lot more ordered and a lot less chaotic fun than the first visit.
But first, she describes a passage in Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad about travel guides about how to piss them off, and finding that passage hilarious, being an ex-travel guide herself. Travel guides get off on the astonishment of tourists. They love the gasp of admiring crowds. They know the gasps are for some marvelous spectacle they're showing while they secretly take a cut of it for their own ego.
The passage she found so funny is the traveling doctor decided to stop giving the tour guide his satisfaction.
“Ah, genteelmen, you come wis me! I show you beautiful, O, magnificent bust Christopher Colombo! — splendid, grand, magnificent!”
He brought us before the beautiful bust — for it was beautiful — and sprang back and struck an attitude:
“Ah, look, genteelmen! — beautiful, grand, — bust Christopher Colombo! — beautiful bust, beautiful pedestal!”
The doctor put up his eye-glass — procured for such occasions:
“Ah — what did you say this gentleman’s name was?”
“Christopher Colombo! — ze great Christopher Colombo!”
“Christopher Colombo — the great Christopher Colombo. Well, what did he do?”
“Discover America! — discover America, Oh, ze devil!”
“Discover America. No — that statement will hardly wash. We are just from America ourselves. We heard nothing about it. Christopher Colombo — pleasant name — is — is he dead?”
“Oh, corpo di Baccho! — three hundred year!”
“What did he die of?”
“I do not know! — I can not tell.”
“I do not know, genteelmen! — I do not know what he die of!”
“May be — may be — I do not know — I think he die of somethings.”
“Ah — which is the bust and which is the pedestal?”
“Santa Maria! — zis ze bust! — zis ze pedestal!”
“Ah, I see, I see — happy combination — very happy combination, indeed. Is — is this the first time this gentleman was ever on a bust?”On the second less chaotic visit she felt as if she was missing some of the magic of the place until she encountered the statue of a fat man. She doesn't mention the name Ka-Aper, Chief Lector Priest, but it struck her as the most realistic statue she's seen. The guide tells her to give him her phone. He uses the light on the phone to illuminate the face of the statue and its eyes light up flashing life to the wooden statue. This stunned Katlyn Roberts. She had never noticed the statues have glass eyes.
The guide illuminates the eyes of the very famous statue of married couple, Rahotep and Nofret.
Katlyn is amazed she hadn't noticed this before. It changes everything. Then she encounters the statue of Mitri.
I was looking at a person, not a statue. I’d never experienced anything like this before in my life. I was seeing ancient Egypt through a whole new dimension. I felt like all I needed to do was reach out and brush the clay from his face and he would blink and his cheek would be hot to the touch. Either he was here or I was there but one of us was outside of our space-time and acknowledging the other.
I was having a deeply existential experience.Katlyn's story is filled with surprises, acute repetitions, and reversals and insight. I cannot lift anymore of her excellent storytelling. It's the finest thing that I've read from any visitor to Egypt. It's funny. It's told lovingly with tremendous compassion and understanding. Recommended.
If you choose to click over and read it, and turns out you don't care that much for it, try the comments to see what others are appreciating that you are not. But that won't happen because nobody doesn't appreciate stories told this well.