Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bedouin Blues

I enjoyed this clip of an article about snow in the Sinai mountains and Bedouin culture:

It is getting cool during the day and downright freezing at night. The mountains are at an altitude of over 2,400m (over 7,500 ft) and the tops receive snow during the winter season. Snow is good because it means water for the Bedouin gardens, but it also means fewer customers because nobody wants to spend a chilly night on a mountain and wake up to frozen pools of water. South Sinai is in Egypt and as every Westerner knows, Egypt is where the pyramids are and therefore it must be hot. Always. All the time.

Snowy SinaiExplaining to visiting Westerners that actually no, the pyramids are not next door and yes, that is real snow, takes some time. We have endless tales of visitors arriving from the coast, wanting to climb Jebel Mousa (Mt Sinai) and arriving in their best beach clothes only to find that the top of Jebel Mousa at 4am in the morning during winter with a high wind, is, shall we say, somewhat cold.

Click here for more.

Buen camino,


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pilgrimage Destination: Ein Gedi, Israel

Wonderful story about the oasis of Ein Gedi in Israel from the

Ein Gedi is a place whose burnt-red crags and incongruous pockets of greenery can make you feel as if you’ve landed, Charlton Heston-like, on some highly cinematic planet. In fact, you have. Ein Gedi is the planet of the epic Biblical past. The niches in the cliffs are where David hid from his enemy King Saul, and the rocky paths are where Saul hunted for him. The vineyards of Ein Gedi produced glorious henna flowers that the singer of the Song of Songs compares to his beloved.

Our plan was to spend two days exploring the Ein Gedi oasis with a guide who had once been the director of the field school there, which is run by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, and one night camping in the desert nearby. It was June, and the guide had assured me that we’d cope with the desert’s incandescence by hiking in water and hiking by moonlight. Friends raised their eyebrows. I hoped he was right.

The drive to Ein Gedi from Jerusalem took us past the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on earth, which has a bright and slightly creepy turquoise cast. This is partly because the water is framed in red by the surrounding mountains, partly because it is supercharged with salt and other minerals.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Theologians on Pilgrimage: Karl Barth

Looking at other theologians and their take on pilgrimage.

This is Karl Barth:

Such men and women (like Abraham and Sarah) are pilgrims, prepared always for surrender and dissolution, decrease in honor, ever tireless in descending the ladder of renunciation and death. To be pilgrims means that we constantly return to a starting point of that naked humanity which is absolute poverty and utter insecurity...god is not found on the throne, but on the plain where men and women suffer and sin.

(From Barth's Commentary on Romans 3:22, 23)



Monday, September 6, 2010

Pilgrimage...East Coast Style

From the today, this article on the seven highest peaks on the East Coast:

THE world’s Seven Summits — the highest mountain on each continent — were in the news this year when the Alaskan climber Vern Tejas set a record by ascending them all in just 134 days. Inspired by him, I set out to climb a few peaks of my own. My challenge would be to hike what I call the Six Summits — the highest point in each New England state. I required no pack animals, porters or supplemental oxygen. Armed instead with a map, compass, hiking boots and a blue Honda, my journey lasted six days and brought me to six unique places. Below is a guide to my quest, presented in order from the point with the highest elevation to that with the lowest.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

East London: Great Place for a Pilgrimage

Found this in the about a part of London I love:

his is East London, a sprawling area known for its artists, anarchists and immigrants. Neighborhoods like Shoreditch, Bethnal Green and Hackney Wick have long been where a creative class could afford to live and work. Now it’s also where they play, shop and eat.

Though the main arteries are often choked by traffic, the side streets of East London can be as tranquil and pleasant as parks. The area feels light years away from central London, and totally self-sufficient, thanks to a host of enticing restaurants, shops, markets and hotels.

As Clarise Faria, the curator of the Loft Project, a private club that invites acclaimed chefs to cook meals in an airy apartment for select guests, said: “There’s no reason to go to the rest of London.”

There’s certainly no reason to go elsewhere to eat. In 2005, a shed behind a former school that now contains an artists’ studio, where Rochelle Street meets the leafy traffic circle Arnold Circus, became Rochelle Canteen, a restaurant open only for lunch. The food is bright, direct and unapologetically English: fare includes dishes like a salad of fresh peas, favas and pea shoots, and a whole sole sautéed in butter and served with cucumber and fennel. The spot has a casual elegance, and it’s easy to linger over a midweek lunch, with dogs napping in the restaurant’s walled garden and neighbors catching up with one another.

On the other side of Arnold Circus is Leila’s Shop, a small specialty store with raw wood shelves, drying sausages and nougat imported from Isfahan, Iran. On a recent visit, I was browsing the shelves of house-made jams with the cookbook author Anissa Helou, who sometimes holds cooking classes in her nearby loft, and after we stepped outside, a perfectly silent electric car whipped around the corner. The driver and Ms. Helou knew each other, and as they said their hellos under a bank of trees four stories tall, I felt that I was looking into the future, to a time when cities are gentle and everybody is friendly.

Things are busier a few blocks to the south on Redchurch Street. There are boutiques like Caravan (tasteful bric-a-brac) and Hostem (sartorial concept designs for men), and there’s Boundary, a hotel and restaurant that the designer and hotelier Terence Conran opened last year. Shoreditch House, a branch of Soho House that opened as a hotel this spring, is nearby. So is Dirty House, a soot-gray private artists’ residence designed by the conceptual architect David Adjaye; the building’s cantilevered roof seems to hover at night, as the interior lights below give it a luminescent glow.

And then there’s Columbia Road, home to an open-air flower market on Sundays since the 19th century. More recently, it has welcomed dozens of tiny shops that bustle during the week.