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It was dark. Very dark. So dark in fact, that I couldn’t even make out the dim lines on my own hand, pressed against my warm face. The loud blast of noise that woke me, still resonated around my ears, giving me a tingly feeling near the back of my head. I looked at the clock, and in jeering red numbers it showed me the time: 4:00. AM. Aggravated that my precious hours of sleep had been robbed out from under my nose, I strode outside of the small chamber I had been sleeping in with my brother and my Dad, and walked outside to see the blood red sunrise opening up the glory of a new day. Oh! I nearly forgot what I was here to do, the noise! Where was it? Or more exactly what was it? Slowly, using the opening sun as a vivid, and still vague source of light, I began to search for the culprit.
At the time, I was in a camp, full of Egyptian, Arab Bedouins. Why was I here? The answer to that was simple. We had decided, not so long ago, that we were going to visit Israel, a place of the holy, and there we would travel across the whole country. But what fun would that be? How about some action, I thought to myself. But little did I know, that I was going to get more action then I bargained for. Believe it or not, I had spoken too soon, and right away, I got what I was hoping for, some action. “Denik, (as that was the Russian name he called me by)” my dad explained to me, ”we will be going into the middle of the desert, and we will spend 4 days out in the open wild, hiking over the vast plain.”
Feeling swelled up in my chest, and I was practically bouncing with excitement. I couldn’t believe it! I had got what I was secretly hoping for. The action was a large hike, a hike over the Egyptian desert of Sinai, with a guide and some Bedouins. At the time I couldn’t wait, but some thing constantly bugged my conscience at the back of my head. How, in the world, was I possibly going to do that? A week of serious hiking and, at the time, I was not fit enough to do it! I was in sixth grade, and I struggled to do even two easy pull ups. So how, in all the possibilities was I going to hike?
I shook my self out of my small moment of thought, and I brought my self crashing back to reality. I stood in a courtyard, with a dirt floor, and mud brick houses surrounding my small room, in which I had slept. Looking around at my “hotel” I observed that they had ran out of running water, and both “toilets” had filled up, but that was not the issue for me to solve. In the distance, I could make out the faint outline of the beautiful, and majestic mountain range behind us, soaring up into the Arabian skies, standing there, and not wavering in the wind like we did.
Out on the plateau, I saw the dim image of residential mud brick houses, with their brown house hold camels still having their dreamy eyelids closed. Typical families lay huddled for warmth, as the cold of the rocky red desert couldn’t go away, leaving occasional stings of wind on my face. The sun had escaped from behind it’s mountainous hiding place, and had flew back to its rightful place. The sky.
Slowly, I began to walk, and I looked around, nobody was in sight, not even the silent and strong Bedouins. I looked around once more, and stared into the bluish-gray tarp slung over a bunch of sticks to create a makeshift sun block. That’s when it happened.
I was nearly thrown off my feet as the giant sound echoed through the peaceful village once more. To me, it sounded violent, cutting into the peaceful lives of the residents. It was a razor shock to my ears, and it sliced through my peaceful thoughts and brain waves like a knife through butter. My hands traveled to my head and closed up the openings for sound reception, and clutching my head like a maddened lunatic, every thing seemed to get a bit calmer, and yet I wasn’t so sure.
I expected the violent noise to stop, like the previous one, in a short burst, but instead, the sound fluently moved on, in a soft and melodious kind of way. I feverishly darted my eyes around, and slowly, the grating sound adjusted to my brain, and it no longer was as harsh as it sounded before, and slowly my brain began to register it and I finally understood what the sharp melodious noise was. Of all things, that I may have thought it was, never had I thought, that this head jerking sound was that it was a language.
I ran as fast as my legs could carry my, jumping over stones and boulders, and running across small ledges and benches, I ran down through the entrance to our quarter, dodging through small shrouds of cloth and through small stone arches, up many flights of steps, and with the small bursts of adrenaline pumping through my veins, I busted through the entrance to our small and humble abode, gasped greedily for a breath, panting like an alienated dog, and that’s when my eyes slowly looked up, and on total accident, flew into a run of their own. My eyes ran straight into a wondrous and slightly baffling sight.
It was hundreds of people, all doubled down in prayer over to an unseen god. Each person in the large crowd was unique, and each wore a variety of splashing colors, and had on matching beautiful turbans and clothed heads to add to the flowing bodies, and to protect their necks from the merciless red sun, that forcefully governed their lives. The living chorus of singing people flowed as one solid mass, opening up their solid concerns to their wonderful god, praying, in a chorus of beautiful voices.
Slowly focusing my eyes, I centered them upon yet another breath defying sight, and that was where I found the true origin of the now faithful noise. A magnificent maroon red and sand beige tower stood constructed by metal wiring and solid brick at least 100 feet tall, aged by many sand storms and silent weathering. The tower took my breath away. At the top, I could see a small silhouette, a black outline against the dim inside of the tower. I made out the shadow, and I saw, a Bedouin, dressed in pure white garb, praying out loud into a megafone, and at the same time as he spoke, the sound carried through out the entire camp, and I saw, hooked up to a giant speaker system, enormous sound all over the campus.
Hypnotically gazing at the sight, a shadow stooped over me, and I gazed up to see that it was my Dad. accompanied by my brother, joined me, to absorb the beauty of what I was witnessing.
I was wrong. I did not wake up to an annoying sound. I had woken up to the sound of prayer. Daily prayer. And that was when I realized how stupid I was. I saw, and in that moment, I understood all the differences that cultures can provide. In my mind, a new thought had registered, that I never thought about before, or maybe that I was just not ready t absorb the fact, but I realized, that every culture has its own customs, and with every rising culture, came a religion. For me, it was a nuisance, and a complete pain to wake up in the morning from a descript sound, but to living families in another part of the world it was a living blessing to start the day, in pure glory and prayer.
I will never forget that day. We continued on in our glamorous quest to cross the desert, and succeeded, visiting many religious places, and mountain tops villages, as well as sleeping under the stars in sleeping bags. We lived with the Bedouins, and our minds became like theirs for a small amount of time. After what had seemed an eternity I had finally got my action. In the end, after leaving the desert, I was sad to leave, but all in all, I always remembered that incident, the one that gave me an different view on certain things in life. And for sure, I will never forget it.