Walking with Flowers

By SusannaHelen

Being a Tourist

Splendid day in London, first visting the Geffrye Museum where this picture was taken and then going on, via a leisurely late lunch, to an event at the Royal Geographical Society celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Swiss explorer J. L. Burckhardt's rediscovery of Petra. The RGS has many of his papers and artefacts, which were brought out just for this special occasion. The most moving item, for me, was his Certificate of Pilgrimage, which referred to his journey on the Hajj. Burckhardt was travelling in Jordan in the guise of an Indian Muslim merchant and this is probably how he ended up doing the pilgrimage. But the travel writer Matthew Teller suggested in his talk to us that perhaps the experience ended up meaning something more to this young Christian man so far from home. The Certificate ended up in the RGS archives in 1924, much later than Burckhardt's other papers. It had been entrusted to his servant and legatee of his will, Osman, a local man to whom Burckhardt left a sum of money and an instruction that he should be freed from enslavement.

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