Tag Archives: Biblical Sites

Mount Sinai

2 Nov

We took a taxi from Port Nuweibi to a place called Dahab upon arriving in Egypt. We slept a couple hours to recover from the ferry ride then went scuba diving. We walked into the water from the shore. The coral reef was right there. It was spectacular, colorful, and full of fish. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening relaxing in restaurants and lounges on the water. We had to allow our bodies to decompress (or whatever) after diving. Our next stop would be Mount Sinai, and, not wanting our ears to explode (or whatever), we couldn’t climb the mountain immediately after diving. So, we waited.

We took a taxi from Dahab to St. Catherine’s in the afternoon. We had planned to tour St. Catherine’s Monastery then return to our hostel to rest before heading to the mountain at 3 am to hike to the top to watch the sunrise over the desert. Things did not go entirely as planned.

There were several military checkpoints along the way from Dahab to St. Catherine’s. We were waved through most of them without a problem. At one of them, however, we were stopped for quite a while. We showed them our passports and everything seemed to be in order till they asked us to step out of the car.

We were walked to the commander of the checkpoint’s office, but they said only one of us could go inside. Eric waited outside. I was escorted in.

I was greeted by a stern-faced man who liked to keep his hand gun on top of his desk. It was half an arm’s length away from him, and the barrel was pointed directly at me. He asked me several questions in a style in which he was trying to be as intimidating as possible (surely the gun was enough to accomplish this). Then, he thought about all of my answers and concluded tourists on the way to climb Mount Sinai and then on to Cairo the following day seemed like a reasonable enough truth. We were allowed to proceed on the condition we took the 6 am bus from St Catherine’s to Cairo tomorrow. We agreed.

Upon arriving at our hostel we were informed we wouldn’t be able to witness sunrise on the mountain and make it back down in time to catch the 6 am bus (as it turns out, it was the only bus leaving for Cairo the following day anyway). Also, St Catherine’s Monastery was closed for the day. We wouldn’t be able to tour the monastery, but we could still hike Mount Sinai and watch the sunset, only we had to leave immediately, and we had to hurry.

We rushed out of the hostel, secured a guide, and hiked up Mount Sinai as quickly as we could. No rests, no breaks. It was worth it, however, when we reached the top just in time for sunset. We took the obligatory pictures with smiles and then Moses-style pictures. And that was about it. It got dark, and we hiked back down. We ate dinner at the hostel and went to bed in order to wake up early the next day for our trip to Cairo.

It was rushed, but it was worth it. Climbing Mount Sinai was great. Sunset over the desert was terrific. It was a good experience.

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Amman, the Dead Sea, and Rainbow Street

24 Oct

We were a bit surprised by our initial impression of Jordan. It was very modern. The currency was incredible valuable in relation to the dollar. Things were expensive. With the exception of all the women donning hijabs, downtown Amman resembled many other modern cities throughout the world. 

It was amazing walking and driving around Amman and seeing the ruins of a civilization that stretched thousands and thousands of years. We had seen things like that before, but the sights were given added weight because of their ties to biblical history. 

Our first full day, we hired a taxi for the day to drive us from Amman to the Dead Sea and to a waterfall in Wadi Mujib (we think). The Dead Sea was amazing. We both knew we were supposed to float in the water, but nothing can prepare you for the actual experience. The water pushes you up on your stomach or on your back. It was a struggle just to maintain an upright position. We were given an hour and a half to experience the Dead Sea and that time flew by in an instant. We could have stayed for hours more, especially as our fingers didn’t prune. The Dead Sea was well worth the trip.

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The white at the edge of the water is salt.

Wadi Mujib was really cool too. We had to hike from the point where the stream flowed into the Dead Sea (which was roughly 400m below sea level) to the big waterfall. The only pathway was to walk through the water. There were ropes set up along the way to help pull yourself up smaller waterfalls along the way. It was a blast! Unfortunately, we couldn’t take our cameras with us because they weren’t waterproof. There was no way to guarantee their safety during the trek so we left them behind. 

It was a solid day. We returned to Amman in time to catch sunset at The Citadel.  Afterword we grabbed dinner on Rainbow Street, the most modern, happening place in the city. It was a bizarre collection of Western-imitation restaurants (e.g., Buffalo Wings and Rings and Harley’s Burgers), shisha bars, and clubs. Beers were too expensive in this area for our budget, however, so we headed back to our hostel to see if there was anyone hanging out on the roof.

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It turned out to be a good decision that would pay off for the remainder of our time in Jordan, beginning the following evening when we departed for our road trip through the desert. We’ll get to the rest of the story in the next post.