Paying for School

My ongoing adventures in life and the pursuit of more...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Highs and Lows

Yesterday morning I woke up at 1 a.m.  On purpose.  By 2 a.m. I was getting on the back of a camel I'd never met before and started up Mt. Sinai.  Our goal was to reach the summit for sunrise.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Mt. Sinai is the mountain in Sinai where Moses is supposed to have received the Ten Commandments - or Ten Words if we're sticking with the original language - and brought the Law down the Israelites waiting very impatiently in the valley below.

About 300 years ago someone realized the potential importance of the site as a place of pilgrimage for 3 major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  A small stone church and small stone mosque sit on top of the mountain.  Below, at the base, is a Christian monastery that made room within their own walls for a mosque.

So there I was, with about 16 friends or so and about 300 other pilgrims, making my way up the switchback trail to the top.  You could walk the whole thing or you could hire a camel and handler to get you two thirds of the way up where it became too hazardous and narrow for the camels and you had to ascend the rest of the way, the very steep way, on foot.

All before dawn.

Why before dawn?  I have no idea.  But there we were.

I will tell more of the story later, for tonight I just wanted to update you with some pics and a few details.

My Camel and its view.
Great moment from the journey up: at one point on the switchback trail I looked up at the Ridgeline above and riding across it, backlit by moonlight, accented by more stars than I've ever seen, the black silhouettes of 4 camels and their riders ascending the mountain.

Eventually we got to the camel parking lot and had to say good-bye to our new friends.  I may never walk the same way again but the ride was once in a lifetime memorable.

After a slow trek up the 730 uneven natural stone steps to the summit, my travelling companion - Sue - and I arrived.  Sue is 60.  This trip is on her bucket list.  It wasn't easy for her but we stuck it out until we arrived last to the top, but certainly not late.  We arrived just before dawn started to break.

It was an amazing site as the sun made a return and darkness flowed away from the dawn like ink.  The Milky Way disappeared and was replaced by a wash of light that fell over us, over the mountain, the valley and the 400 or  so of us who now crowded together at the summit.  Every tribe, tongue and people group seemed to be represented at Sinai yesterday morning.  Young, old, men, women, snapping pictures, sitting in quiet meditation, running after each other, catching our breath, learning to breathe again.

This is me after the sun is up.  It was cold up there.  Freezing cold.  Worth every bit of the journey though.

This is the view to the North as the sunlight crept across.

This morning we woke up in Aqaba, Jordan.  We got on our bus and made our way to Petra.  There's a lot of story in there that includes 3 border crossings in one day.  I'll save that for another time.  I want to share a couple pics from where we were today.   Petra.  So much to say.  I'll let these cover a few thousand words for me...

The Siq

The Treasury - I stood there and took this picture.  Seriously.

Me at Petra - Indiana Jones' hat.

And here's how we ended the day...
Sunset on the Dead Sea...where we floated as the sun went down.

I've got a lot to learn, but I'm getting there.

1 comment:

  1. Come on brother, I bet you could have crammed at least one more country in, and several more historic sites in the day if you'd moved a little faster! :-P thanks for taking the time to share.