About My Blog

I Spent six weeks in Egypt before spending a year in Germany. This blog covers the best summer of my life. If you are looking for my posts while I was in Germany ask me, and I'll be happy to share them but I have been asked not to share them publicly. Feel free to visit my brothers blog of his year in Germany or my new blog

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mount Sinai

In an earlier post I talked about religion for myself. I told you
that I am not a religious person. I don't remember if I said anythig
about spirituality though. Sprirituality to me is very important. There
are moments of power, feelings of belonging, and times of complete
calm. These times, among others, have a spiritual meaning to me. It's
weird to say this but scuba diving was spiritual, everything was in
perfect balance and it was perfectly quiet. Again it's weird to think
that snorkeling here has been spiritual, to be in contol and dive five
to ten meters while holding your breath and actuallly swimming with
the fish instead of around them made me feel like a part of nature.
Sure I was an invader and not natural to their habitat but they were
I had heard in the past that mount Sinai, and climbing
mount Sinai was a deeply religious experience for some people. The
importance of the mountain to religion didn't escape me but I didn't
think a mountain could do that. After having climbed it I can now say
that I understand that position. Although it was purely spiritual for
me it was odd to have a closeness to the site where morality for half
the world's population was established. And it was definitely as close to
religious as I will ever get.
We left the penguin village hotel at a little after 12 and arrived at
the base of Sinai at 2 am. We started to climb as a group of twenty at
around 2 15. It was obvious that there were serious hikers, fit
people, and then us, the Cairo bums. I guess there was some overlap
but I walked slowly mostly to stay with Kayla and Ayman. She was struggling
because of her asthma and I carried her backpack to the top along with
mine. The walk was along a dirt path but it was wide enough for
camels to walk beside you on either side. The moon lit the path
as our group spread out more and more, them making progress, and us
falling behind. It was an extremely long walk and took us a little
over three hours to finish. As we walked up people sang and chanted
and enjoyed their religious experience. I don't know if it's
religion, will power, or both but there are very few things in the world
that could make 80 year men and women make a climb of this nature. It was a wide
path but it was steep and just before the top, the last 30 minutes are
a walk up hundreds of stone steps. As we looked back below us while
walking, groups of people, flashlights in hand, wobbled up the
mountain just as we had done a few minutes before them. To me this was
the spirituality, something brought us all together on that mountain
this morning. Even though most of the people will never see eachother
again we all know exactly who we shared that hike, that view, and that
sunrise with. That happens every night there but each groupk each
night has it's own connection, somehow. I have been to touristy places
before but nothing like this. Not because of the chuchkie trinkets but
the languages and the community. There were a few hundred people on the mountain I would
guess and here must have been more than two dozen languages. The
Asian tourists were there with their high socks, goofy hats, gloves,
sleeves, and cameras. The Germans were there wearin typical capris,
tevas, and German socks while eating bread and cheese out of a cheap
plastic bag. The Americans were there, and you can guess how they
were. Every background, age, nationality, and religion was
represented and we all watched the sun rise together before climbing
back down. We climbed down the steps but then decided to descend on
another path. The other path was filled with switchbacks and tiny
shops but we returned by climbing down more and more and more stairs
until the bottom. The view was great as we came down this crevace in
the side of the mountain.
In the dark of the night we drove to the base and could not see our
surroundings, as we climbed we saw the ouline of mountains and the
trail ahead of us. But on the top and on the way back everything that
we hadn't seen was finall revealed to us. A ligt fog covered the
mountains and the sun as it rose but the red mountains reflected the
sunlight in a way that no camera, only firsthand experience could do
it justice.
It's starnge that this place was as highly gaurded as the DMZ
between the koreas. Our bus to Sinai from dahab was stopped several
times and we were asked our nationality. Before leaving the hotel
receptionist told us to say canadian or british because as ling as
there are no more than 3 Americans they don't tag security on you.
The security for Americans is to keep us/them happy but it has an
opposite effect. The police here are burdensome and creepy and way
overbearing. The whole Sinai penninsula is like that but especially at
Sinai. Even within the complex of mount Sinai, our bus was pulled over
4 times. It's completely unneccesary but also completely the fault of
our own government.
Once the police were dealt with and the climb through the night began
I was struck by that spirituality. Everything was calm. The people
were in harmony. The setting was gorgeous. Truly a once in a lifetime
experience and a story to tell to everyone. My only question is, am I
obligated to climb it again in old age like the men and women we saw
or was this my one trip. I couldn't figure out whether the old people
were returning, or trying to cross something off of their bucket list in the latter
stages of life, either way the draw to return is there.

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