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...


ESPANYOL




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…

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