Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mt. Sinai - The Second Day...still

It was getting towards noon, maybe a little after and the air was dry, the sun hot. Not as hot as it could have been though. Mahmoud drove us out of St. Catherine's to the other side of Mount Sinai, the biblical Mount Horeb. It is said that it is here Moses received the 10 Commandments. The elevation of Mount Sinai is 7,496 feet. The first 2/3's of the trip can be on foot or by camel. The last 1/3 was by foot. Our approach. I don't have pictures of me mounting Ahloosh, my camel yet. Donna has them on her camera. It's probably a good thing anyway. I don't think it was so graceful.
Meet Ahloosh and Hajeeb. Hajeeb is a 13 year old Bedouin boy who has great command of Ahloosh. He was quite chatty even though we didn't understand one another. I figured out that Moosa is Moses in Arabic. Hajeeb knew Ahloosh and Ahloosh listened to him. At first, and in tight passages Hajeeb guided Ahloosh by a bridle and rope. He soon let go of the reigns, much to my dismay and doubt and threw them over Ahloosh's long neck. So, it was just me and Ahloosh. When Hajeeb wanted him to stop he would make some clicking noises with his tongue. When Ahloosh had to go up stone steps Hajeeb wound give a command before each step taken.
Donna and Dale were behind me. They had slower camels!! Ahloosh zipped along despite the heat and me on top of him.

This is Hajeeb. Poor kid walked up 2/3 of Mt. Sinai while I road.
Ahloosh stops to look at a monastery nestled in the back side of Mt. Sinai. I took a few pics. It was more difficult to take pictures as he was moving. Not such a smooth ride if you know what I mean.
The long and winding road....dah, dat, daaah. If you've ever had the donkey ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon experience you'll know what this was like. Sometimes Ahloosh just ambled along looking to the right and looking to the left, never breaking stride. Made me a little nervous.
The moon rising over Mt. Sinai.
We're getting pretty close to the first stop here as you can see, we are almost eye level with the range of Mountains around us.
Apparently camels doo doo alot as the walk. I don't know...I was on the lead camel.
We've reached the Sinai Rose, a small cafe at the point where we had to dismount our ride. Reluctantly I said goodbye to Ahloosh and Hajeeb.
Inside of the Sinai Rose. Not many customers. But, lovely handbags for sale.
Now we begin the final 1/3 of the ascent on foot. Geez, you'd think we were climbing Mt. Everest. It was taxing though and the air was getting a little thinner and the sun a little hotter. But the view, well decide for yourself. I think it was worth it.
At the next stopping point there was a man who was sitting on a large outcropping. He just looked into the distance meditating and smoking.
Most often people want to trek up the mountain in the dark in order to see the sunrise. Or, they will come up late in the afternoon to watch the sunset. We didn't feel as if we needed that experience at our ages. It gets very cold on top when the sun sets. There are five little stores, and I use that word really very loosely, that rent blankets and mattresses.

A couple of the stores sold chocolate, soda and water. An odd combination but by the time we got there we NEEDED chocolate. It was so good. The picture above is of Youssif Coffe Shop. His address was number 3. There were five stores only, in a small space, but, they each had an address. We bought chocolate from store 1.
We passed on the mattresses and blankets.
Pretty, eh? Now it is about 3:00 pm and as you can see the light of the sun is changing.
At the summit, finally, after a 1 and 1/2 hour camel ride and a 1 and 1/2 walk. The good news...there were no new commandments that we had to bring down with us. I don't know how we could have carried them anyway with our cameras and water bottles.
Nah, we'll pass. We didn't think so either.
On our way down this Bedouin with his three donkeys laden with cargo passed us very quickly. He is on the same path that we were on so you can see it wasn't a paved garden pathway!
He really zipped by us.
Now we are getting close to the bottom. About in the middle of this photo you can see St. Catherine's. So what we did was to come down the other side of the Mt. Sinai. By now it's about 5:00 pm.

St. Catherine's Monastery.
Bedouin riding home for the night.
Camels parked and unsaddled for the night.
These guys were ready to go to sleep already...probably were the camels that we were on!
Bedouin just relaxing after a day with the tourists!
On our way back in the car we saw a beautiful sunset. We were so tired we didn't even want to stop.


Brother Richard said...

Quite desolate. An austere beauty about the place. Must have been very moving not to have found the missing 11th commandment.


Nan said...

All I can say is, WOW!
Great Photos! What a trip!

HAH said...

WOW! What an experience. I can not imagine an 1 1/2 camel ride THEN walkin on those stones...and NO 11th commandmant!!!!

Suzanne said...

Yeah! What the heck???