Category Archives: Middle East 2019

Middle East: On to Jordan

Since the end of the last blog post by my friend Silas, we’ve explored Egypt further. Since Anafora, we’ve spent a lot of time traveling out and about, flying from Cairo to Luxor and spending two days there with picturesque scenery along the Nile visible right from our hotel room windows and rooftop. Our guide, Samer, took us to explore several historical locations around Luxor – Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, the Valley of Kings, and the local bazaar, to name a few.

After flying back to Cairo, we also had the opportunity to travel (once again, led by Samer) down to St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai, some several hours’ bus drive where we crossed the Suez Canal into the Sinai peninsula (and from Africa to Asia). Touring the museum there was a fascinating experience, as well – many Christian icons, fine artwork, and old books, all of which were several centuries old, a few well over a thousand years old, which highlights the deep and rich history of the monastery in addition to Christianity itself.

One of the highlights of this week (and the trip to date) was our climb up Mount Sinai on the 23rd; not quite just a walk in the park, with a trail about 2.5 miles long with 750 steps at the end to the peak. It covers a total elevation change of 2,200 feet (with the peak itself being roughly 2.2km, or 7,500 feet, above sea level), but the sunset view at the peak was well worth the hike, in addition to Linford going on at length with several excellent words on Exodus (our assigned Bible reading at the time) and our hiking experience.

The day after our climb up Mount Sinai was a much more relaxed day (in the morning at least) where we drove from St. Catherine to Taba, a small town on the Egyptian side of the Egypt-Israel border, to cross through the very southern tip of Israel over to Aqaba on the Jordanian side, where we stayed the night. Clearing border security in Israel was a very time-consuming affair, but eventually we got across to Jordan, where we ended up waiting some more for our guides and bus. Continue reading

Middle East 2019 group at Giza

Middle East: Egypt

Has it really only been a week? That’s the question that comes to mind as I write these words in Anaphora, a compound about an hour’s drive from Cairo. It’s a beautifully serene place that offers us time and space to unwind and reflect.

Yes, only a week. Driving away from the farewell crowd at University Commons seems so long ago. After 20 hours of travel, half of which were spent in airports, we were greeted in the capital by our guide Samer (Sah-mair), who welcomed us with oranges, bananas, juice boxes, and flowers (for the ladies). Fortunately, it was nearly 9 PM Egypt time, so we were able to sleep soon after. Jet lag was hardly an issue.

Samer has since led us all over Cairo and Giza, holding his scepter topped with an ankh, the symbol for life, high in the air. In the morning, we saw the Great Pyramids, checking the only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World off of our list. These tombs held the global record for tallest man-made structure for nearly four thousand years, and the engineering plus sheer manpower it would have taken to achieve the stacking of rocks – each weighing multiple tons – is pretty flabbergasting. Our group took in their epochal presence, as well as that of the Sphinx, and moved on to visit a papyrus art gallery, a carpet making school, and a handful of other ruins that are rich in history, yet often overshadowed by the Pyramids.


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Middle East 2019 group at Giza