Thou Shalt Not...

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Egypt  , Red Sea and Sinai,
Saturday, January 23, 2010

…‘walk on thy foot that is broke’
…‘drop thy camera lens from 12 feet’
…‘stand at the top of the mount without warm clothing’

So many commandments I didn’t know about and broke today!

Today we actually tore ourselves away from beach-ville to head into the mountains in the center of the Sinai today.  Rising up and up and up, it was quite the opposite experience from the diving Brian’s been doing the last few days. 

What a barren desolate landscape with bare rocky mountains and no vegetation whatsoever.  How did Moses lead a million people through this wilderness and survive?  Nothing lives here, it seems!  I guess that’s what makes it all the more remarkable, and necessary to rely on faith.  Without water springing forth from rocks and manna from heaven they could not have done it!

Arriving at St. Katherine’s - the center of faith of the area - was a complete dissapointment.  As best as I can describe it, the monestary was like lining up for the new ride at Canada’s Wonderland on opening weekend.  Wall to wall people crammed into a tiny little space shuffling along together at a rate of 100m/hr.  I passed by countless film crews recording the tourists as they passed along corridors (I wonder how much you pay for that kind of tour package?).  I managed to squeeze in, take a quick look at the supposed burning bush and get right back out again. 

Fighting our way through the crowds of men trying to sell camel rides up the mountian now, we broke away from the crowds.  1000’s of people trek out to the middle of nowhere to look at the monestary, but hardly any attempt to climb the mountain.  Only about a dozen or 2 ventured up so we were able to climb in relative silence and isolation. 

There are 2 paths up the mountain:  the camel track and the steps of repentance.  We took the camel track which is a very slight incline winding up and around the mountain.  The steps of redemption are about 3000 steps (not really steps, but rocks piled to resemble steps) that start right behind the monestary and go right up.  However nearing the top, there is a final ascent of 300m and maybe 750 more steps that everyone needs to take no matter what path they ascended on. 

At the top there are beautiful views sweeping the surrounding mountains and valleys.  But there is also very cold air and icy winds.  Even being there mid day, we huddled in our thin jackets under blankets trying to stay warm.  Eventually the cold got to us and we headed down before the sun set. 

To get down, we took the steps of repentance and were quite glad that we weren’t navigating them in the dark.  They are very uneven rocks with lots of twists and turns.  The half moon cast an eerie glow lighting up the sands of the desert making them look like snow. 

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