Posted by: treksinai | August 19, 2008

the blog will continue – but without me

i had a good time out here. it went by fast; as most things do. I got to see much of the region and make friends with many of the locals. I ate well and exercised well. my understanding of culture and religion grew along with my desire to learn arabic. I have a feeling that i will come back here some day… and one thing is for sure – those who are here today, will be here tomorrow. 

I have been going to the same restaurant every day since arriving. The father and son who run the place have become familiar and friendly faces. i still constantly hear my sinai nickname, Zizou, as i walk through town, from people i swear i have never seen before. i don’t mind. at all. I haven’t had to shave myself for the past 90 days… as i get to sit in a black leather chair and have a man with a razor do all the work (i will miss this). 

i have kept over 800 photos in the last 3 months (out of about 1,500) – of truly unique landscapes and experiences. If you ever get a chance, this has got to be a place you visit at least once in your life… and the sooner the better as it is growing quite quickly. it’s just an all-round cool place. i still look at the peaks around Catherine and wonder if they are really real. i will miss these baron granite giants. 

But alas, i have to go on my last run through these mountains. . . and start saying goodbye to the Mohammads. all of them.

 

First time i had seen this many clouds!

First time i had seen this many clouds!

Posted by: treksinai | August 12, 2008

the bedouin religious mindset

Selah, a potential leader of this particular Bedouin tribe explained to me, “Allah will only care about whether you were a good man or not. If you are a Muslim and but not a good person, why would Allah accept you? If you are not a Muslim but you are a good man, why would Allah not accept you?” My response was a smile accompanied by a nod – I have talked to many different types of Muslims in my life, from pakistan, to Afghanistan, to Morocco, to Iran, to the Emirates, to American, to Tunisian, Jordan, Syria etc…  

There is something different about the way this man thinks. He was born Israeli-Bedouin (along with many others of his era) – as the Sinai belonged to them for a decade or so during his time of birth. (The Sinai went back to Egypt in 1981).

In St. Catherine there are orthodox monks, a constant flow of Christian and Jewish tourists, and 2 mosques that resound 5 times a day across the entire valley. Jews and Christians bring money to this Muslim community… there isn’t animosity between the differences in beliefs – that i have noticed. To them, whites are christians, browns are muslims (slightly simplified, but my point remains) and there isn’t much more to it. I have often heard bedouins talk about the heart of a person… I like this notion.

I recently talked to a tunisian Muslim in Cairo who explained that there were 5 things a man had to do in order to be a ‘real’ Muslim. None of them had to do with the heart… just duties to fulfill. He told me that praying was like kissing your father, where obviously the child who kisses the father the most Loves him the most. A direct connection between quantity of prayers/kisses and amount of Love.

I thought this was similar to a situation where i saw 5 young men stand up when an old man came to greet them. He was slightly gauche as he walked funny and seemed to have a cataract. At first i liked the respect they showed this elderly man, but then i quickly realized that despite dutifully standing as a sign of respect for the man, they were mocking him amongst each other. The standing up is nothing in itself – it is a Sign of something True within… if it isn’t true within, then the sign isn’t a sign anymore… it is nothing but foulness masked in piety. The heart matters, and i think the Bedouins realize that more strongly because they meet so many people of various faiths – and there isn’t a group that stands out. they see good and bad people in every religion, even their own. So maybe they realize something that more people need to come to understand… once the religions are stripped away, are you a Good person, are you a Godly person?

Posted by: treksinai | August 8, 2008

funniest thing i have seen in a while

I was walking through St. Katherine at around noon, heading towards the restaurant – when a dog came flying by, galloping like a horse – then in full stride (picture this with me…), she was just leaping from her hind legs when in mid-air she got SUCH a serious itch on her tale that she contorted (while hanging in the air at full pace) her entire body so that before touching the ground she was chewing/biting her serious itch… fervently.

Now if you are imagining this with me, then it will not take much to picture the landing of this female dog (Bingo). she hit the ground hard and must of slid at least 2 feet BUT wasn’t even slightly deterred from biting her serious itch. I laughed and thanked the heavens for having witnessed such a unique occurrence. Then i wandered, for about the next 30 minutes, about what could cause such an intense itch…

Posted by: treksinai | July 31, 2008

gaps and venom

I was told that vipers are very rare in these mountains, some guides have been trekking for 6-8 months and still have never encountered one. so, there is the foreshadowing of my story…

Packed my pack, ate Koshari in the village, and then headed up the rugged mountains at around 7:30 pm. I wanted to sleep at the summit of a somewhat smaller mountain all by my lonesome… I knew that the last stretch was no longer a hike – but a climb – so i wanted to get there while i could still see a little. 

I got to this section – i’ll call it a risky section as a fall or slip would have meant death – and stopped to analyze for the best approach. i tried several times to cross this bit, but it didn’t feel safe enough. So i was going to head down and go up another way (it would have meant 45 more minutes… and it was getting dark quickly), when i decided to relax, switch of the warnings and ‘just go for it.’ i wish i had a photo, as it is hard to describe. when i got to the other side my heart started pounding but my mind started chilling… so i walk about 4 steps further (still thinking about the gap i just crossed) put my hand down to assist my ascent AND right there about 4 inches from my hand was a 14 inch viper… ready to strike.

Must of been a baby (making it much more dangerous) – i pulled away reflexively… then compulsively swore. It was too much for a span of 11 seconds. I started to think this was a dumb idea… — until i reached the top, set up my little camp and played guitar – over-looking the alpine desert mountains. 

Anyway, so that is my story – i just described the snake to a bedouin guide… he made one of those faces that you make when you hear about a bad car crash. We are so fragile…

Posted by: treksinai | July 28, 2008

How do you live your life? just like you write a story…

Kay so tomorrow i will have a good story, as tonight i am going on an adventure. This adventure will take me high into the alpine desert in the middle of the night, with my headlamp, thermo-rest, and my guitar. this will take place after going to war (a.k.a. football) with the local bedouins at around 10 P.M. The thing is… the climb to the top of this little mountain is actually a climb… like rock climbing. But up at the peak is the most perfect abode for sleeping i have seen in a long time. picture climbing a tower of a castle where once you finally reach over and land on-top, it is flat, safe, and hopefully full of wonder

So, i know you can’t wait for this adventure to be posted, so i will head out. From now until then, i shall be creating this Story, every decision will become part of the plot… and it is these decisions that will determine the extent of my adventure… if only every moment in life, whether at work or at home, could be seen as a story in the making –“What you do today echoes in eternity!”… i think i stole that from a movie.

anyway, but really, people forget that one day their life will be only a story…. What story do you want it to tell – and then… start doing it today : )

 

I had one last chance.. i came around the side and leaped towards the giant bunny...

I had one last chance.. i came around the side and leaped towards the giant bunny...

Posted by: treksinai | July 20, 2008

Tanning in the Alpine Desert… nothing more to say :)

 

tanning in the alpine desert

tanning in the alpine desert

Posted by: treksinai | July 19, 2008

Sleeping in an Eco-Lodge… in the middle of Nothingness

it was really nice – almost luxurious. Again sponsored by the E.U. – Everything is eco-friendly and the food is fanstatically local. We had a fire, had supper with candle-light (candles are the source of light at night). It was so quite, so still; really pleasant. It’s a nice place to go out on treks, as it is close to several cool day-hikes. Here is a photo of this particular eco-lodge (Al Karm). (Sheikh Sina is building two more by the end of next year…)

 

Four hour walk from St. katherine

Four hour walk from St. katherine

Posted by: treksinai | July 17, 2008

“We’re not even Keeping Score!!”

I have been accused of sometimes getting “too into it,” … “it’s just a game Pierre”… “winning isn’t everything,”… I even got a detention for kicking my best friend while lining up after recess, because he claimed the score was 2-2 and i knew it was 3-2! (i still believe it was) Anyway – so i play almost everyday with the local bedouins. It’s the worst terrain ever, and they play with a large hard sticky ball, so it isn’t really football, as we know it…  if this doesn’t make sense, no worries.

The point of this entry – is to tell the world that i have never seen as much passion, vexation, outrage, indignationyelling, rage and horror as i do everyday on the soccer pitch. Yesterday we had already been playing for 45 minutes when there was an ‘iffy’ goal – it was hard to tell if it actually went in or not…

A REVOLUTIONARY mutiny surged in moments! Medium-sized-Muhammad raged at Small-Muhammad, which brought skinny-Muhammad and thick-Muhammad into the conflict, where big-Muhammad was yelling at nothing in particular. As the Muhammads outraged, i ask Muhammad what the score was… he didn’t know. no body knew! WE WEREN’T EVEN KEEPING SCORE

You wouldn’t believe how serious this was, The keeper left the game, two guys refused to play, and skinny-Muhammad told thick-Muhammad that their blood-lines will from henceforth never mix again. i was STUNNED at this particular incident, but in everything – such intensity; every bad pass, every missed attempt, every ball that doesn’t go to the right Muhammad, is a SERIOUS problem that must be dealt with by flailing the arms, grabbing the culpable Muhammad, ferociously furrowing the brows, and Yelling uncontrollably. 

I love it.

even after 3 hours of playing, they run less, but the fits of outrage are still Steady and Unfluctuating. In the West, people don’t care as much, therefore don’t try as hard – which makes Sport less passionate… and what is sport about?… passion!

 

a 30 minute "outrage" caught on camera

a 30 minute "outrage" caught on camera

Posted by: treksinai | July 16, 2008

Into the Wild!!

just kidding – but i want to mention a couple i have been hearing about in town. a german couple who came to the sinai  with/by donkeys from Germany. It took them 7 years to make it here and apparently they have some amazing stories. I may try interviewing them, as i have heard that they were attacked, robbed, and even hospitalized, as well as losing a donkey in Greece (i hate it when this happens).

 

LICKING RED HOT METAL… YOU BETTER NOT BE LYING

The Justice system in St. Katherine, Egypt: if you accuse someone and they don’t fess-up, you go before a town council – they heat up a piece of metal until it is red, then both of the people involved in the ‘conflict’ LICK the red hot piece of metal… the ones who’s tongue burns is the villain and has to pay the other. (apparently this is an old system that has lasted centuries… and works!) now of course being a western modernist i immediately tried to think of the science behind this… but, i don’t understand how it could have lasted this long if it wasn’t true. But you probably wouldn’t accuse falsely or steal things if this was the justice system.

On another note: This is an amazing place to work out. You can run for hours in the cool morning air, through high altitude desert planes and mountains, the paths are soft, the views are stunning… a camel pack is necessary. But you don’t feel like stopping… you just want to run and run. I also started loading my backpack with 1.5 liters water bottles… everyday i add one or two and try to do the same amount of pushups (i actually get excited when i am heading back to my room with two empty water bottles!). Then i go behind my room and pick up large rocks : ) well they are actually small, but they’re heavy! i promise.  – Dave, one of the guys who works for Sheikh Sina as well is planning on doing a Marathon de Sable training program up here in the sinai mountains. i think it is a great idea. 

okay, that’s all. be well. be safe. 

 

just behind the clouds lies the highest mountain in egypt

just behind the clouds lies the highest mountain in egypt

Posted by: treksinai | July 9, 2008

Attempting to Run up Mt. Sinai

Apparently it’s a 3 hour hike to get to the top from St. Catherine monastery. I think i may have overestimate my fitness, believing that i could jog up without too much difficulty. well…. It’s stairs all the way to the top! I started my stop watch with a hand on the wall of the monastery and took off with a strong stride and lots of confidence. The problem with my timing was that the 600 people who go up the night before to catch the sunrise were all coming down at this point. Being someone with a… decent amount of, let’s call it pride, i certainly wanted them to be impressed (even though i would never see them again) by my manly morning jog. I made sure to stop the heavy breathing as i jogged past them, i would sometimes stop, acting like i was just being polite and giving the passer-byer more room… when really i was just about to pass out. So – with this in mind, and with the constant flow of people coming down the mountain, (i must humbly admit that they were impressed) i almost fainted and vehemently prayed for Jesus’ immediate return. Unfortunately his return did not take place and i had to stop jogging – after about 15 minutes. (so all that previous stuff was the first 15 minutes of my manly morning jog) 

Anyway, so i had to resort to a quick, long strided walk up the mountain. I could hear people thoughts, “pff – what a pansy can’t even run up Mt. Sinai” so i would gather all my manliness and start running again… for about 17 seconds. I kept thinking to myself, “Why… why upon this mountain!” I got to the top 36 minutes and 50 seconds later. It felt much longer… i looked out at hundreds of south sinai mountains and valleys completed deflated of strength, energy, and of course manliness. This manliness being fueled by heavy music was doing nothing for me so i switched it off and listened to Avril Lavigne, made more sense. After about 15 minutes up top I headed down the stairs/mountain. It took 30 minutes to get to the monastery… which surprised me as i thought going down would be quite a bit quicker.  When i got to where all the people were at the monastery, i of course picked up my run and soared past them. When i got back to camp, my legs were shaking uncontrollably… but i told the people who saw me there, that it was simply how i dance to Avril Lavigne. I think they believed me.  

I don’t know if i will do this again – i had a headache for the rest of the day… I wonder if Moses would have been impressed, or thought, “what a pansy – can’t even run up my mountain.”

Here’s a visual of Mt Sinai surrounding… the peak you see there is mount Sinai

 

Mt. Sinai in the distance...

Mt. Sinai in the distance...

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