Egyption History & Travel - 2010

Upon arriving at the gateway into the monastery, the four of us became aware that Kathy was not doing well. She was extremely short of breath, sweating heavily, and quite anxious. Up until now we had not been overly concerned that she had been sick with what appeared to be tourist's diarrhea and had been unable to eat or drink regularly. But now it was clear that she was severely dehydrated and had not tolerated the walk in the sand at all well. We were all fearful that she might be having symptoms of more serious problems, perhaps even heart-related. She got off the camel and went just inside the monastery precincts and Kay sat her down, poured water all over her, fanned her, and made her drink as much as she could get down. It took quite a length of time (the whole span of our tour of the monastery) before she felt any better at all. So Kay decided that she and Kathy would not continue the camel ride to the Nubian Village for hibiscus tea. That ride was another 45 minutes into the desert with no shade at all, just blinding sunshine and incandescent heat from the sun and the reflection off the sand. They would wait back at the boat so that she could watch Kathy and make sure she continued to drink copiously. St. Simeon's Monastery was fascinating to John and I but we certainly did not have our minds focused totally on the tour. Nor did Hany as he explained the facts about the monastery to everyone. We were all wondering how Kathy was faring and Hany kept taking breaks so he could go and check up on her, for which we were grateful. Every time we came to a place with a window or a door or a low wall, we would peer into the terraced where she and Kay were sitting to see for ourselves what was going on. But a word about the monastery is called for - since everything turned out all right in the end. This large monastery is about 4000 ft. from the Nile on a cliff which allowed it to be constructed as two natural terraces, an upper and a lower. The present name for the complex was assigned by archeologists and tourists. Its real name was Anba Hatre after an anchorite (hermit monk) who later rose to become an archbishop, presumably abandoning his cloistered existence. The complex dates from the 6 th century AD but much more construction went on in the 11 th century. At its busiest, there were 1000 monks residing here. The complex includes dormitories with cells containing 6 stone beds each, a church, kitchen and refectory, winery, latrines, a residential tower, kilns for making bricks and pottery, a cemetery with many tombstones, and watch towers on a thin wall which encompasses the whole. The wall


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