This morning we headed toward the Israeli and Egyptian Border to travel to Mt. Sinai.
In this picture you can get a feel for what the country side looks like in the desert. You can see the Red Sea with Egypt on the upper side and Israel below the sea. The land is quite barren and has very tall mountains.
Here at the Taba Border crossing the landscaping looks beautiful because they can actually water the plants but notice how quickly the mountains rise and how desolate they become.
Along the three hour drive we happen to see these “yurt looking” structures so we must share them with you.
And this Bedouin village had been moved back three miles from the border to keep terrorist from moving in along the Egyptian border. I don’s see how people can live in this desert land.
We learned that Saint Catherine’s Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and that among it’s treasures is a library of ancient manuscripts and icons considered second in rank only to the Vatican. It is a 6th Century Church reputed to lie directly on the site of the Burning Bush. This site is another one of the places that Helena the mother of Constantine traveled to locate the holy sites and had her armies build a church.
The church has been a monastery for over 15 Centuries. The Monks grow all their food so the first site is of their gardens.
Here are several shots of the Monastery from the outside. The inside we could not photograph but we were allowed to take no flash photos of some of the icons.
The first thing you notice are the wooden boxes on the outside walls. These were used to provide supplies to the Monks when they were attacked. They would drop a rope and the Bedouin people would bring them food and water.
Here’s the bell tower. We were told the white rope was centuries old and was used only twice a year to ring the bells, at Christmas time and New Years.
The image of Christ was one of the first image of Christ developed in the Early Christian Churches. Jesus is holding the New Testament in his left hand and makes the sign of Alpha and Omega with his right hand.
Here is an icon of Saint Peter.
The Library has one of the largest collections of original manuscripts and codexes.
The Church remained protected throughout the ages because Mohamed put his handprint on the written document for it’s protection.
Saint Catherine’s bones were found on top of Mt. Sinai in this bone box.
The real reason we came here was to see the Burning Bush. Remember the church was built around the actual bush, however, from the same roots of that bush it now grows outside the church. They told us that the plant, rubus Sanctus, has not been grown successfully any other place in the whole world. Note: The burning bush is the one directly behind us on the right.
The Mount Sinai peak where Moses went to get the Ten Comandments sits directly behind the church. Thanks to being in a tour group, William was saved from doing the entire 4 hour climb. You know I would have drug him up there if we could have but we were still delighted in walking part way up.
On the way back down we could see the valley where the Israelites were camped when Moses came off the mountain.
Before heading back to Israel we had lunch in the courtyard. We got a good laugh out of how I made my sub sandwich vegan. I simply removed the meat and added the whole cucumber. It was actually quite tasty. There was way more food than what we could eat in our lunch box and most all of us gave the remains to the Bedouin people working there at the monastery.
Here some other fun photos from the day.
A Bedouin house.
Me climbing on the rocks.
And some of the people we have made friends with during this trip.
Liz is on the left – such a delightful interesting person to talk with.
Nina is on the right. She has been an inspiration to us all.
And this is Jewette. As always we will remember the people as much as we do our trip.
And the last picture is of Dr. Lon Solomon – our Tour Host and Spiritual Leader. An amazing man of God touching so many lives.
Tomorrow everyone will be leaving but not us. We simply need more time so tomorrow we will depart the group and stay another 5 days before returning home. We hope to surprise you with our last adventures here in the Middle East.