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Climbing Mt Sinai – Final Days in New Egypt

After a hectic couple of days in and around Luxor, we drove up to the former Bedouin fishing village of Dahab on the Sinai Peninsula. I wish I could say that Dahab is full of colourful scenes but I have actually been hard pressed finding suitable subject matter for drawings (at least that don’t involve me being harassed by locals trying to sell me belly dancing outfits or genji pants). Even the beach front esplanade looking towards Saudi Arabia is rather uninspiring. Missy has done a bit of snorkelling but has said it isn’t any better than you would expect to see at the Great Barrier Reef. I have been chilling out inside our backpacker resort catching up on sleep and eating copious amounts of good food. Cornetto-style ice creams are about 80 cents Australian; need I say more. It is nice to have some time to do nothing. 
The summit of Mt Sinai at dawn
The only major site I have tackled in the area is the majestic Mt Sinai. Missy and I had an epic climb in the dark, beginning at about 10pm to avoid the midday heat, and slept in our sleeping bags in subzero temperatures on a series of cold stone tiers fifty metres from the summit. Watching shooting stars dash overhead was something I will never forget. The sunrise in the morning was a yellow ball burning through a thick blanket of fog, but it was the wash of warm colours on the mountainside and the valley below which really stole the show. We walked down the steep Steps of Repentance past cameleer stations and abandoned churches, every turn in the track bringing a new vista. I wish I had time to sit and sketch; we tried to beat the rising heat of morning, reaching Saint Catherine’s monastery at the base of the mountain by about 9am. I will try to do some drawings off the photographs – truly, it was too beautiful to ever capture on the page. At the monastery gift shop I skirted all the religious paraphernalia and picked up some beautiful lithographs by Scotsman David Roberts, who travelled the Holy Land (including Sinai) in 1839.
Today is our last day in Egypt and I feel guilty that I haven’t done more sketching. I popped out of couple of pen drawings this afternoon; they are inspired by a water bottle label, the entrance ticket to the Cairo Archaeological Museum and a hieroglyphic mural in Karnak Temple (Luxor). Nothing special really, but I think the little dancer is cute. The use of black and red ballpoint pen is a nod to designer Adrian Feint, whose illustrations recently featured in the Ballet Ruses exhibition in Canberra.
We will take the ferry to Aqaba in Jordan tomorrow. I hope to do some drawing in our bush camp in Wadi Rum, the old tramping ground of Lawrence of Arabia.



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