Kelsey in Cairo

Kelsey is majoring in English, with a minor in political science, in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. In Spring 2009, she is participating in SMU-in-Cairo in Egypt, where she will be taking courses in political science and Arabic. She hopes the experience will prepare her for a career in international relations or journalism, and she plans to volunteer with a nonprofit while in Egypt.

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Sunrise on Mount Sinai

n6417911_37546304_7515586.jpgOnce again, I neglected to bring my passport – or even a copy of my passport – on my trip to Mount Sinai. This proved to be a bit of an issue as there are multiple checkpoints where police officers come onto the bus and check everyone’s IDs.

It’s vitally important to always carry at least a copy of your passport in Egypt, as all the hotels will want to look at it upon check-in, and you never know when or where there will be a checkpoint.

It’s tradition to climb Mount Sinai, famous as the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments, in the middle of the night to make it to the top in time to watch the sun rise.

Despite having to wake up at 1 a.m., my merry band of travelers and I decided it would be best to try to sleep for a few hours after the long and tiring bus ride to the Sinai peninsula. Thus we ended up at Fox Camp, another fabulous institution run by Bedouins, where the rooms are cheap and the food and tea are delicious.

It took me a while to fall asleep as a certain one of my companions was speaking Arabic in his sleep, and it was especially difficult to leave the comfort of the camp when our guide came to wake us as it was freezing outside.

Once again, I ended up being ill prepared for this trip. As the moon was covered by clouds and no one had thought to bring a flashlight, the trek from the camp to the mountain was done in complete darkness.

Freezing, stumbling over rocks, and suffering from the strain of the high altitude, all the way to the mountain I thought I was going to wimp out and have to take a camel up the mountain. But a short break in the warmth of a hut, the sight of the lights of hundreds of pilgrims, and the well-worn trail on the mountain re-energized me enough to climb the mountain sans camel.

With just 750 more steps to the top, we had about 40 more minutes until sunrise and took shelter from the unbearable cold in a hut where we finally gave in and rented a blanket for about 20 pounds.

n6417911_37546279_4625474.jpgDespite the cold, the entire top of the mountain was covered with visitors. The sunrise, illuminating the stunning mountain scene below us, was well worth the hike and even the cold. Still, I’d recommend taking a coat, a hat, and a good pair of gloves!

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