Monday, July 19, 2010

Arrival to Mt. Sinai

Taking a required trip to Mt. Sinai was part of our program this past weekend. Leaving on a friday morning early we journeyed the six or so hours to Mt. Sinai. We passed through the busy morning traffic bustling all the way till we hit the very outskirts of Cairo. We went through the tunnel under the Suez Canal originally built by the British and further on, wistfully passing the sparkling blue waters of the Red Sea into the desert of rolling sand hills, sparse palm trees and rocky mountains with the altitude slowly climbing the further into Sinai we went. Upon arrival we received our keys and headed to our rooms to drop off our things and explore the monastery of St. Katherine and the surrounding area. Simplicity was the theme of the hostel in the monastery which fit perfectly with the lifestyle of the monks and the simply breathtaking landscape. St. Katherine's monastery, the oldest in Africa and the oldest working monastery in the world, it sits at the base of Mt. Sinai in a kind of valley and surrounded by walls to keep out unwanted visitors or dangers. It reminded me of the castles and fortifications of ancient times. We ate a delicious dinner together and I celebrated Shabbat on my own with a candle as the sun set behind the mountain. My friend Maggie was interested in watching me say the prayers so she came with me and we both said a silent prayer of thanks and gratitude that night. How lucky am I to be here for free all the meanwhile speaking Arabic?

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