Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mount Sinai.. Monte Sinai..

Egypt November 2007

i left my apartment at 6 am on thursday and returned saturday at 7 pm... 3 days and 2 nights exploring the sinai peninsula with steve, michelle, daryl and denise... the 9 hour bus ride from cairo to dahab was bearable only because i am reading a great book "Party of One: The Loner's Manifesto"... we arrived right after sunset, had dinner and chilled… next morning  i got up early to see the sun rising behind Saudi Arabia mountains and cover the red sea with its light and warmth... later steve and i went 4-wheeling to an oasis with views of the turquoise ocean and quaint dahab in the background... around 2 pm my friend steve and i took a taxi to st. catherine's monastery... it is tucked in the middle of the sinai peninsula, rocky mountains, desert, and solitude surrounds this place of prayer... we climbed mount sinai at 3 am and so did a few hundred other tourists, travelers, pilgrims, bedouins, and camels... here is a bit of history about this unbelievable place...

Tradition holds that, in 330 AD, in response to a request by the ascetics of the Sinai, the Byzantine empress Helena (St. Helen) ordered the building of a small church, dedicated to the Holy Virgin, at the site of the Burning Bush, as well as a fortified enclosure where the hermits could find refuge from the attacks of primitive nomadic tribes. By the 7th century, the Monastery faced a dangerous situation and a grave crisis, mainly due to the Arab conquest. Although information on this period is scant, one source tells that by the year 808, the number of monks in the monastery had been reduced to thirty, while Christian life on the Sinai peninsula   had all but vanished. However, the monastery itself did not vanish. According to tradition, and evident from indirect information, the Fathers of the Monastery requested the protection of Mohammed himself, who saw the Christians as brothers in faith. Apparently, the request was favorably accepted and the so called ahtiname, or "immunity covenant" by Mohammed instructed his followers to protect the monks of the Sinai. Though this document has been a matter of controversy, it is doubtful that the monastery could have survived without the protection afforded by Mohammed and his successors.

... on the way to st. catherine's we visited (just stopped the taxi in the highway in the middle of nowhere) and chatted with a bedouin family... real desert nomads... their hospitality expressed in sharing tea with us... it was touching to see the kids smile as they listened to my ipod...

…It was a 2 hour hike, admiring the most amazing full moon and listening to german, italian, russian, japanese travelers, and stepping out of the way of camels, i reached the summit... i sat on a rock on the edge of a cliff and drank the sunrise from mount sinai...

…after having breakfast at the monastery and visiting the church and museum filled with 15 centuries of history, we went to the bus station to return home... there we met two college students on their way to alexandria and decided to hired a cab to take the 5 of us back to cairo... i was in bed by 9 pm, i drifted to sleep, exhausted, happy, thankful for the beach, the desert and the prayers...


Egipto Noviembre 2007

Sali de mi departamento a las 6 am del jueves y regrese a las 7 pm del sabado… 3 dias y 2 noches explorando la peninsula del sinai con steve, michelle, daryl and denise… el viaje de 9 horas en el bus de cairo a dahab lo aguante porque estoy leyendo un excelente libro "Fiesta de Uno: el manifesto del solitario"… llegamos justo despues del atardecer, cenamos, y nos relajamos… a la maniana siguiente me levante temprano para ver el sol salir detras de las montanias de Arabia Saudita cubriendo el Mar Rojo con su luz y calor.. mas tarde steve y yo fuimos 4-wheeling a un oasis con el paisaje del mar turquesa y la pequenia dahab a nuestras espaldas… a eso de las 2 pm steve y yo tomamos un taxi hacia el monasterio St. Catherine… un lugar en el centro de la peninsula del Sinai, con montanias rocosas, desierto y soledad alrededor de esta casa de oracion… nosotros ascendimos el monte Sinai a las 3 am acompaniados por varios cientos de turistas, viajeros, peregrinos y camellos… aca una resenia historica sobre este incredible lugar…

La tradicion dice que en el anio 330 AD, como respuesta a un pedido de los ascetas del Sinai, la emperatriz Bizantina Helena (Sta. Helena) ordeno la construccion de una pequenia iglesia, dedicada a la Santa Virgen, en el lugar en el que Dios hablo a Abraham en el arbusto ardiendo, ademas de construir una fortaleza alrededor para proteccion de los hermitanios... en el siglo 7mo. el monasterio corria peligro y una grave crisis, primordialmente por la conquista Arabe. Segun la tradicion los monjes pidieron la proteccion del Profeta Mahoma, quien los veia como hermanos en la fe. La peticion fue concedida y Mahona ordeno a sus seguidores proteger a los monjes del Sinai. Aunque hay debate sobre la auntenticidad del documento que describe estos hechos, no hay duda que el monasterio no hubiera sobrevivido sin ser protegido por Mahoma y sus sucesores..

… en el camino a sta. Catherine visitamos (paramos el taxi en medio de la carretera) y conversamos con una familia beduina… nomadas del desierto… su hospitalidad expresada al compartir un te con nosotros… fue lindo ver a los ninios sonreir al escuchar mi ipod..

…fue una caminata de 2 horas, admirando una hermosa luna llena, escuchando aleman, italiano, ruso, japones, que los viajeros hablaban… y haciendome a un lado para que pasaran los camellos… llegue a la cima… busque una roca a la orilla de la montania, me sente, y me tome el amanecer desde la cima del monte sinai…

… despues de desayunar en el monasterio y visitar la iglesia y el museo llenos con 15 siglos de historia, nos fuimos a la estacion de bus… alli conocimos a dos estudiantes universitarios en camino a alejandria y decidimos contratar un taxi entre los 5 para que nos trajera a cairo… yo estaba en la camita a las 9 pm… al quedarme dormido, agotado, feliz, agradecido por la playa, el desierto y las oraciones…

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

50 Inspiring Travel Quotes

1. “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
2. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
3. “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
4. “The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

5. “All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.” – Paul Fussell

6. “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac
7. “He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb
8. “People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” – Dagobert D. Runes
9. “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck
10. “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

11. “Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.” – Aldous Huxley
12. “All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” – Samuel Johnson
13. “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
14. “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese
15. “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

16, "A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi
17. “When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D. H. Lawrence
18. “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
19. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
20. “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

21. “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
22. “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru
23. “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux
24. “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson
25. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

26. “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” – Robert Frost
27. “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
28. “There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.” – Charles Dudley Warner
29. “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
30. “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

31. “The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot
32. “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
33. “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain
34. “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy
35. “Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

36. “Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and I remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli
37. “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou
38. “Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation.” – Elizabeth Drew
39. “Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe” -Anatole France
40. “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca
41. “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon
42. “I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” – Lillian Smith

43. “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley
44. “Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” – Freya Stark
45. “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling

46. “Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” – Paul Theroux
47. “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton
48. “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman
49. “A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Goldoni

50. “Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins