06 December 2018, The Tablet

Sara Maitland sets off on a 40-day solo, silent retreat to the Sinai desert

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Sara Maitland sets off on a 40-day solo, silent retreat to the Sinai desert
 

When you read this, I should be deep in the South Sinai desert, somewhere between St Katherine’s Monastery, which is at the foot of Mount Sinai, and Sharm El Sheik. I am planning to do a 40-day silent and solo retreat, or trek, or adventure, or all three. And before people start worrying that I am doing too much, “solo” is slightly untrue. I will have an excellent guide, a Bedouin whom I have known for over ten years, though as we have no shared language – and because he knows I am seeking silence – there won’t be much in the way of fireside chatter.

Purely by coincidence, my son Adam (in his mid-thirties) is also “out on the road” – walking with his donkey, called Martin, from Cape Wrath to Weymouth – “Lighthouse to Lighthouse”. (He has a great blog at adamwalks.wordpress.com if you are interested. Martin blogs, too, at the same address.) So, inevitably, we have been talking about the responses that we have been getting to these journeys.

They aren’t exactly parallel because he is meeting strangers – and a donkey with fabulously long ears and multi-coloured backpacks is a bit of a crowd-puller – whereas I have not set out yet, so am dealing with people who already know I’m going in advance.

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