Mount Sinai

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St Catherine Egypt

Mount Sinai, or Gabal Mōsā (Moses Mountain), on top of which Moses supposedly stood when he received the 10 commandments from God. Only a short distance from possibly the most powerful World Rainbow Gathering in history. The nearby tourist town of Dahab was almost deserted due to political reasons, the rainbow family enjoyed having an entire town to themselves. After spending a week resting in Dahab a small group of us gradually formed in the town of St Catherine. We were so warmly welcomed by the lovely Bedouin people at Fox Camp (on Facebook) sharing stories and chai around the fire. It’s uncanny how similar the Bedouins are to us. Two days and nights were spent exploring the immediate area and meeting locals before 10 of us, and one child, set off into the desert mountains with no timeline, not much food, 3 of us were fasting, minimal water, 8 pairs of shoes and no plans other than to reach the top of Mt Sinai.

Shining with love we embarked on a journey that would normally be approximately a 4 hour round trip with just a little more than 1 hour of sunlight left in the day. We passed through 2 abandoned Bedouin villages which were in ruins and many beautiful boulders along a dry river bed. It was well and truly dark with less than half of a waxing moon to light our path into a small village at the foot of Mount Catherine. The local Bedouin family welcomed us in, lit a camp fire for us and offered chai as we prepared dinner. Shanti and I were fasting so instead of eating we did a little Rapé ceremony, we both opened to an unfolding of realisation that continued into the following day. After dinner we all went to sleep in one of their spare houses, a beautiful little cottage hand build with stone. Half of the group woke at 3am to hike the rest of the way up the mountain in the dark to watch the sunrise while the other half slept in and spent the morning in the village. This village had quite a garden growing in the dry desert, with many eucalyptus, olive, pistachio, pomegranate and many other trees. We bought a big bag of hand made bread, a small bottle of hand pressed olive oil, Marçal had his backpack repaired in exchange for a small bottle of perfume and a couple of cups of coffee later we were ready for the hike!

The walk around and up the side of Mount Sinai was incredibly beautiful yet challenging thanks to it being day 3 of fasting. I almost gave up on the hike to instead visit the St Catherine’s Monastery but thankfully I pushed on and made it to a point on the mountain that opened up to what they call Moses Garden, the location that the Jews camped while Moses climbed the peak. What better place to rest and break my fast. A scrumptious feed of fresh bread, tuna, beans, tahini, honey and pomegranate gave me the energy required to climb the last 15 minutes of stone steps up the steepest part of the mountain to reach the church and mosque who stand side by side on the summit, both facing out towards Mt Catherine. Of course, on the sunny side of the mountain we found the other half of the group ‘lazing on a sunny afternoon’. The air was still, the sun was warm, a perfect day on top of the mountain. We rolled a joint and blissed out for a few hours watching the colours change in the sky as the Sun went to rest for the night. All of the colours of the rainbow and every shade in between were on display circling the mountain.

The winds picked up and brought in a near freezing night so we set up a sleeping space between the church and the mosque, out in the open so we could wake at the crack of dawn to watch the sunrise. Before sleeping we shared a light meal and not so light conversation. Naturally we began to speak of Moses and the 10 commandments. The majority of the commandments are prohibitions: do not kill, do not steal, don’t do this, don’t do that. Don’t think of an elephant. Interestingly we noticed that there has been a lot of breaking of the commandments amongst humanity over the past 4000 years since God handed them to Moses. So it occurred to us that new commandments are in order. So we asked each other, what would be the new commandments? Out of us immediately came 3: Love; Respect; and Sharing.

As I was falling asleep I saw a vision of a beam of light that extended through my body, connecting the centre of the Earth with the heavens above. With the power of the mountain I began to emanate a field of light from my heart which extended many kilometres out from the mountain to the surrounding area.

None of us were really prepared for how cold it got up there that night. The winds picked up to a strength that it nearly picked us up from our beds, piercing straight through the layers of blankets and sleeping bags sending cold shivers right through to our core. A few hours of interrupted sleep later we were awoken by one of the local Bedouin business men wanting money for the  blankets. A couple of hours later we were woken again for a spectacular viewing of the morning Sun, slowly adding colour to the black night sky. As the stars faded the colours became more and more intense, all of the colours of the rainbow appeared again, this time with soft morning pastel overtones, until the Sun finally peaked over the distant mountains of Saudi Arabia and across the coastal mountain range of Sinai to bring the first rays of morning light through the still strong, freezing winds directly into our shivering bones. Tourists came and went as we sat in deep meditation until the Sun was high enough in tree sky to provide us with just enough heat to brave the sub freezing winds to pack or things and climb down to Moses Garden where we were somewhat protected by the wind for a small fire, a light breaks and a coffee before seeing off towards St Catherine’s Monastery. For the first time in about 10 years I really questioned myself, why I was not wearing shoes…

We arrived at the monastery ad out was closing for the morning, just enough time to see the old architecture and meet some interesting people. I got stuck for half an hour ad the guests who were leaving the monastery almost queued to take their photograph with me in front of the famous picture of Mother Mary with baby Jesus on her lap, Moses removing his shoes by her side and the burning bush behind them.

A nice big hit meal, a hot shower and a warm chai back at Fox Camp finally broke my mild hypothermia and rounded off a very enjoyable little journey to Mount Sinai. The winds blowing seeing suggested to me that we have done what we came for and it was time to move on to the next part of the journey, El Cairo here we come!

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