Three weeks ago I came back from Sinai. Since then I have spent a few days of organizing in and around Berlin, a weekend in my home town Kiel with my brother and friends from school and now I am in Lübz, at another friend’s place, in an old farmhouse, lovingly renovated. One of my intentions for my time here, besides walking in the countryside was to start to digest and write about my Sinai experience before I continue my next part of the project, the Camino de Santiago.
I had anticipated that the time in Sinai would be intense which it was. At the same time life there was flowing beautifully and it was full of mystery. Most of the time I was too involved in everything to sit down and write about what I felt. The landscape, the mountains and rocks, the climate and the people are deeply resonating with me. It is the place in the world where I am most happy and where I feel in tune. At some point I want to live there again, it feels like my spiritual home.
Some of you might be interested to hear more about the situation in South Sinai: despite current events in Egypt, South Sinai seems indeed to be safe enough. I spoke to some of the Europeans living in Dahab and things have not changed a lot for them.
Once in St. Katherine I and many others, I have talked to, feel safe and very well cared for by the local bedouin tribe. As if a layer of protection is put around myself when I enter the area. And on the other side the bedouin many of whom are either working for the monastery or in tourism (as drivers, guides, etc.) suffer from the dwindling streams of tourists coming to the area. These days most tourists, many from Indonesia and Brazil only come to the area to climb Mount Sinai and to visit the monastery. They don’t normally stay longer than a day. A new development are Egyptian visitors from Cairo and other big cities who come for the Mount Sinai and monastery experience. Some of the Egyptian visitors are travelling financially supported by the government, in an effort to keep tourism alive in Egypt.
It seems to be difficult for the bedouin to direct their attention to other means of making money. Some bedouin, representing the old ways of life suggest to their friends and family to move back into the mountains and gardens where until 50 or 60 years ago many were able to live more or less self sufficiently. They used to exchange fruit from the gardens for tea, rice and clothes. As indeed in the city of St. Katherine life becomes more difficult without money and money is scarce for many. Prices for food are rising as the value of the Egyptian Pound is sinking.
Looking at the situation in this small city it seems like a microcosm of a very general situation.. Wondering how moving back to the wadis is possible without having to give up all that was learnt during the ‘living-in-the-city’ phase. I am starting to dream of a cooperation between European ecovillage experience and the expertise of the bedouin.
Another very interesting aspect of the region are numerous holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, The area is dedicated as Unesco World Heritage and all three religions can be practiced here side by side. My feeling is that something can be found here that goes beyond the different religions and a sense that searching for it, is part of my life mission. Many people who are visiting the region are deeply touched. On one of my walks I had the impression that the mountains are holding the light and love of hundreds of thousands of years of sunshine. I was so mesmarized by my visit this time that I stayed in a kind of trance for about a week afterwards. And still I am feeling back to Sinai with love.