Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Nat and I were saying earlier that Egypts one country were not sorry weve left - even though theres amazing stuff to see there that I wouldnt have missed for the world, the hassle and various methods of trying to make a fast buck combined with the heat and dirt wear you down after a while.
We spent the last couple of days in the Sinai peninsula. Nat and I opted not to climb Mount Sinai itself, no regrets there. St Catherines Monastary, however, really was worthwhile. 1700 odd years of continuous useage and a charter from Mohammed himself protecting it, presumably because the pilgrimage sites are sacred to Muslims as well as Christians. The Burning bush is still alive if not burning within its grounds, apparently its the only one of its species anywhere in the world. There were hoardes of tourists at first but they did trickle away leaving it a bit quieter. The museum contained icons and bibles dating right back to 6th and 7th Centuries. Again despite not holding strong religious beliefs myself you cant help but be moved by such a long period of devotion and feel the aura of the place. Where does fact and fantasy diverge though - do they really still beleive that St Catherines body was brought to Mt Sinai by angels after her martyrdom in Alexandria. Surely its more than possible she was taken there by someone but not on flights of angels wings. It made an intreresting contrast to muslim Egypt and the level of devotion to Islam shown by everyone. Its hard to comprehend as an outsider to both faiths and raises questions of how much upbringing and indoctrination by the state influences your belief sytems. Im actually very curious now traveling through this region to find out the actual facts of what is documented historical fact about the events relating to both Jesus and Moses'lives - which actually seems easier said than done, as if you google just Jesus Facts, at least the first 2 pages are still religious sites with their own spin. Im sure with more perseverence ill find some good info.
We drove through some dramatic mountainous scenery, we also spent a night at a basic but relaxing beach camp by the Red sea where I spent half the night sleeping under the stars and full moon to catch a bit of breeze. Im struggling quite a bit with the heat. I can just about manage if I can escape into some air con, but if dodgy air con or none I really struggle.
We have now taken the ferry across to Jordan - i did have a small panic, switching between being British to Australian in order to be in Jordan using the passport which has my Syrian visa in but so far so good, hopefuly they let me into Syria ok! Dont fancy being left behind when they dont understand someone with dual nationalities. Jordan allready seems really nice - i think Aquaba might be a little bit of a special case but so far its very relaxed and friendly.
Wadi Rum tomorrow and then Petra, Hurrah!