Yesterday I got back from a moon lit ascent to the top of Mt. Sinai which is the highest point in Egypt at 2285m, although the Bedouins say it's higher of course but why split hairs eh? Speaking of Bedouins, it's "required" to have a guide to get to the top even though the trail is well marked and well, you can only go in one direction. So there is no real need but again, why split hairs? Plus our "guide" who seemed a little slow if you know what I mean, could not speak english, and as they all do, gave our group (3 koreans, 2 japanese, one german and me) a nickname "mish mish" which apparently means apricot. This is too allow them to call their groups together when things get crowded and they want to head back down to the bottom.
The story behind the apricot is that there was a small child who constantly cried and to appease him the mother told him he would get a apricot if he was good. Obviously the story was longer when Moses told it but we had time since it took a few hours to get to the top. I believe you get the gist of the story though, Moses though was another Bedouin that was heading up with us to the top to rent blankets and mattresses since it can get a bit brisk at the top and you do have a few hours before the sun actually comes up. As Moses' english was quite good and since everybody else was walking slower I found myself walking and talking with Moses most of the way up. No flashlight just moonlight as we headed to the top.
I have to say that being on the top of Mt Sinai and it being the site of the ten (or twelve commandments depending on which story you believe in, the Bible version or Monty Pythons or was National Lampoons? . . .) commandments by yourself is quite a interesting feeling. Good view and it's always nice to get a chance to do some exploring by yourself sometimes and by moonlight adds a certain appeal also as does the historical significance.
*side note- Christian you remember that night we sneaked into the Colosseum at night? Similar feel.
It was also here at the top, and on the way up, I found myself in the company of more and more Americans, a guy from Idaho and we were trying to decide if Grand Targe (the ski joint) is in Wyoming or Idaho, a group of girls from San Antonio, Texas, a couple from Fairfax Viginia/DC area, and a whole slew of folks from Missouri. There was also about 40 koreans having a church service outside at the top and bunch of Russians on a bit of pilgrimage as well huge group of Greeks. It gets crowded for such a small spot.
In the valley below the mountain stands St. Catherine's Monastery where God is said to of spoken to Moses from the Burning Bush. Speaking of Moses, not the biblical one, but as some Egyptian's feel, he believed that on the whole women are week except for Russians, I thought that was a interesting point of view on his point. But back to the monastery. It's hugh and a major destination for Pilgrims and tourist alike. It was here that again I put my foot in my mouth when I was talking to a kid from the states and we were talking about Greece and I said that I thought that Athens was a bit dirty just to find out that the girl in front of me was from Greece. Whoops.
Another little travel moment, when we had arrived in the middle of the night we had to pay 50 plastres (somewhere around a dime) to use the bathrooms in the parking lot, in the morning the old bedouin women wanted 3 egyptian pounds. I of course found a issue with this as when I approached some tourist police to ask them whats the deal they ended up yelling at me and since my Arabic was worse then their english it went no where. People don't like the cops in America but there are many worse then at home. Speaking of the "tourist police" one at the top demanded 1usd to go inside the small church at the top of Mt. Sinai, I gave him about less then .50 cents just to have him leave me alone. But Mom I thought you would be happy that I did catch a bit of the sunrise serive (in russian).