Egypt Day 12 & 13
Goodbye Israel, Hello Egypt. Two days will now be spent traveling to the Egyptian capital of Cairo. Leaving Jerusalem it’s a five hour drive to the border. The border crossing wasn’t terrible, but we did show our passports about four or five times, had our bags checked and walking a while. We met our new guide and bus driver on the other side (in Egypt).
From the border it’s a three hour drive to St. Catherine, a small town in the middle of the desert, at the bottom of Mt. Sinai. Egypt is certainly a lot different than Israel, i.e. more flies, everyone smokes, and the dirt is very dust like. Upon arrival to St. Catherine, we visited the monastery. This monastery is one of the oldest in the Middle East and inside its walls is believed to be the burning bush. This unique bush (pictures at the link below) can not be replicated and is unique to this mountain. Also found here is what is believed to be Moses’ well, where he met Rebecca.
We stayed at St. Catherine for overnight at a very basic motel. For dinner, we had a traditional bedouin style meal though, sitting underneath a tent in the dark and eating authentic food. It was actually a great experience and we all had a good time.
Going back to our room we prepared for a three-hour nap to get up at 12:30am. Why you ask? To take a three hour climb up Mt. Sinai and see the sunrise. Crazy? Yes. But there were actually a good number of people joining us from all around the world. We started climbing around 1:30. The trail is very tough, extremely rocky, steep incline and a long distance. My coworker and I stopped half-way up, it was much harder than expected. We still saw the sunrise over the mountains and it was awesome. The climb down was much easier and we got ready for the 6 hour drive to Cairo.
The drive into Cairo was eye opening. Cairo has a 60% or higher poverty rate and is the second most populated city in the world. 18 million people call Cairo home, where Mexico City has a population of 20 million. The drivers in Cairo are wild, and the views from the highway into the impoverished parts of the city were very sad. You can tell the massive population creates high pollution rates as well. We also realized how close the great Pyramids are to the city of Cairo. We were able to see them in between the tall buildings.
Arriving at Pyramids Park Hotel, we will stay here for one night and then take a train to Luxor. Don’t know when the next time I’ll have internet will be, but until then, keep us in your prayers.
Photo Link: http://gallery.me.com/ssrobles/100480