Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Day 4 -- Oh my aching legs!!!! Mount Sinai
Now if it had been up to me to go up to Mount Sinai a second time and bring down a second set of tablets, the world would have had to manage without having them written in stone!!!
We got up at 1:15 hoping to get some coffee before our trek--to no avail. Then our tour guide and bus driver were late getting up, so we actually didn't leave until 2:30 to drive to the St. Catherine's Monestary. Once there, we hiked a half mile or so up hill to find the camels. I was whisked away from the group by a Bedouin camel driver. He held my hand and dragged me through the crowds to a waiting camel. Then we began a two hour camel ride in the dark up the side of Mount Sinai. I can't begin to tell you how beautiful it was! And unfortunately, it was too dark for me to take pictures while holding on the camel---but the stars were gorgeous! For a few moments, I began to feel like I had slipped back in time until my camel driver received a cell phone call. And actually there were hundreds of people making the pilgramage. All different nationalities. All different faiths (remember Moses is important in all three Abrahamic religions). When we got to the bottom of the "stairs" to the top, we were dropped off. Then began the grueling climb of over 600 "stairs" (stacks of uneven rocks really!)
I have to confess that I am not in the best shape and I had a very difficult time making it to the top. In fact, had it not been for our guide, Ahmed, who stayed with me and kept saying "Just take it step by step Sherill. You'll make it." I wouldn't have! But I was almost to the top when the sun came up and I did make it to the very top. Wait until you see the pictures. I now know what the term "terrible beauty" means!
Now I do have to share that at the spot closest to the very top, they have tea shops and one even claimed to have Starbucks coffee but I think that is very doubtful!
What was funny was that as soon as the sun was up people started coming down. All that work for a moment!
Anyway after we had our moment, we too headed down. This time we walked the whole way!
I was so tired that I dropped on my bed while the others went to breakfast. Then we all went to St. Catherine's to see the icons but it was too crowded and I was too tired. I can't say it was worth it.
THen we loaded in the bus and headed to Israel.
It took us around two hours to get through customs and enter Israel. We had to get off the bus and walk with our luggage across the border. I felt like a refugee. IT was strange. We said goodbye to Ahmed in Egypt and hello to Jacob, our Israeli guide, on the other side. Then we drove to our Kibbutz on the Dead Sea, had dinner, and collapsed.
I still have another day to catch you up on but I'll save my Dead Sea experience to share tomorrow. Tonight, we are at another Kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee and tomorrow we will begin to explore this very holy place.