After two weeks of living the Egyptian city life where I've accomplished next to nothing save a few Egyptian phrases, I decided I needed a vacation. Thursday night, Sears, Zoe (American expat working in Cairo), and I took a bus to Dahab, a small city on Red Sea in Sinai. Last night, from Dahab, we were herded into a micro bus with 12 other travelers at 11:00pm to St. Catherine's monastery. The ride lasted two hours through the mountains and the driver frequently passed cars on the two-lane highway with blind-spots ahead and no headlights.
At this point, my interpretation of the situation at hand was that, if we survived the bus ride, we were going to hike up Mt. Sinai from the monastery, through the wee hours of the morning, and watch the sunrise from the very place Moses and the Lord hung out 6000 years ago. Yeah, I know, it sounds awesome.
Upon arriving at the St. Catherine's parking lot, I couldn't help but notice an abundance of buses and 1500 people standing around in small groups, taking instructions from any of the hundreds of Bedouin men also in the parking lot. We exit the bus, and are approached by a man named Mohammed, who introduced himself as our guide. He told us our group's name in Arabic, "Habibbi," in case we were separated--evidently staking his claim of white people for the night.
It's 1:30am, and I'm annoyed. I do not enjoy following man-made dirt paths up desert mountains. More so, I do not like being led up a dirt path by a small man that keeps shouting directives at me and grabbing my arm to make sure I don't get too far ahead of the group. And finally, I detest walking up dirt paths in a line of 1500 people as if following Pied Piper. Mohammed would make the group take breaks at 10 minutes intervals atop every other switchback where inevitably there were STORES selling Coca-cola products and bags of Fritos. Also, literally every 20 yards on the moon-lit path for the first half of the hike there were Bedouin men sitting with their camels trying to sell you a ride to the top. I refused upwards of 50 Camel rides last night. The price was negotiable, starting at 85le (approximately $15). I assumed the prices had risen since Moses' day.
Finally, I had enough. Ignoring Mohammed, I left the group, set my own pace, and reached the summit of the revered peak around 3:45am. Once there, I found a spot away from the well-lit cafe, and pretended I didn't hear any of the 50 men loudly advertising their mattresses and blankets for rent. I fell asleep briefly, only to be awoken by 1500 people arriving to claim their spots for the sunrise, talking loudly, taking photographs in the dark, and generally giving it their best to piss me off.
Whatever. The sun rose. It was bastardized by a crowd of tourists posing like idiots aside brown men and small ceramic effigies of pyramids. The pyramids have nothing to do with Moses and Mt. Sinai and are located hundreds of miles away on the mainland of Egypt but, hell, it's all in the same country and they're just trying to make a few bucks.
Oh yeah, at St. Catherine's monastery, you can go in and pay to see the actual burning bush that God used to speak to Moses. Naturally, it's still alive. Also, many Christian academics believe the biblical Mt. Sinai to be northeast of St. Catherine's, closer to Jordan. FML.
Aside from that, Dahab was fun. Hung out and went snorkeling in the Red Sea.