St. Catherine's Monastery has seen everything from British Tanks, Turkish Calvary, the Crusaders, to invading Islamic hordes and now we were there too, waiting to ride camels. We were scheduled to ride camels to the top of Mount Sinai. The plan was to leave in the middle of the night so we could arrive and the top of the mountain, just in time to see the sunrise. This sounded very romantic in the tour book, but now, in the pitch black dark with an icy wind blowing, it didn’t seem so romantic anymore.
Finally the men with the camels arrived. Each of us were assigned a camel and a guide. We each climbed aboard our very own camel, and started up the mountain, one by one. Katie was in front of me and the last thing I saw was Katie looking back as she disappeared into the darkest, blackest night I have ever seen. My Bedouin camel guide introduced himself, “I am Zayed, I will guide you up the mountain.” After hearing the only English sentence that my guide Zayed could speak, I was in enveloped by the darkest night I have ever experienced. Me, a camel, the dark night, and a man I just met with a thirteen inch knife strapped to his side.
Slowly my eyes began to adjust. In front of me was the silhouette of this grand desert mountain. Upon the mountain was a faint a zig zag of a line. This line was a few hundred people either walking or riding camels up the switchback that wound up the mountain. At every turn in the switchback there was an ancient stone hut glowing with a small campfire within it.
It was amazing. Here we were, riding camels up an ancient mountain, perhaps the same mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments from the Lord. Perhaps Moses himself walked right where I was riding. I felt like I was being transported back in time to the biblical era, just me, my camel and this ancient biblical mountain….and then as we passed the first stone hut the Bedouins inside cupped their hands and cried out, “Kit Kat, Baby Ruth, Ice cold Coca Cola.”
Bam! Back to reality, I’m just a tourist on a camel.
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