7 April '04 Well yesterday was Mt Sinai. The guide book said you should be "reasonablly fit" to make the climb. Well we consider ourselves reasonably fit. No way. We almost died. We are so sore and we can hardly walk. There are 700 rock steps of all different sizes to reach the summit. That's after about 4 miles of steep ascent on a rocky camel trail. Then we took the 3,700 step decent that the monks used to use. It was hell.
The monk's used to do it on their knees saying a prayer on each step. It must have taken them a month !!!! We should have enough penance to last for a while. The tour started out at 10:00 at night a bus picked us up from our hotel. When we got to Dehab (some where up the coast) at the check point we were told we could not continue because our driver did not have a valid drivers license. Our guide was able to flag down another bus that would take us with them to St. Catherines Monastery. It was crowded but we made it. We started the climb about 3:00am and reached the top at 5:15 am. We had missed the sunrise by about 30 minutes. It was so beautiful to be there at this chapel and on top of Mt. Sinai... this small chapel, which is no longer in use, is to mark where Moses recieved the Ten Commandments. Once you reach the top, you just know that you've got to go down. We arrived back at the Monastery about 7:30am only to find the Monastery was closed and getting ready for Easter. OK, now let's get back on the bus and start our drive back... What no Bus? That's right our guide was trying to find us a bus. So feeling a mass take-over, he took us to a crummy restaurant for breakfast. At breakfast we were told there was a chance that the Monastery might open for an hour at 11:00am so that we could visit. The "English" wanted to forget it and return to Sharm El Sheik while the Italians wanted to chance the Monastery would open. Our bus finally arrived just in time to take us back to the monastery. So back we went. It was worth the wait and the fact that they did let us in. We couldn't go into the church but could peak through the door. We did see the burning bush where God spoke to Moses. It was healthy and green, though they say it doesn't recieve any water. Also, they still use the original well that Moses and his family used when they lived there 40 years before God spoke to him. Now we have a three hour ride back through the desert. Unfortunately, we also had to check out of our hotel as they were booked due to an Egyptian holiday. After checking out, we went over to the market to buy some snacks for our 7 hour bus ride back to Cairo. We'll be traveling up the Sinai, following the roadway that runs beside the Suez Canal. About 2/3 the way up the channel, we'll drive down into a long tunnel that runs from one side of the canal to the other and then onto Cairo...