My name is Ramadan Musa Saalih Abu Ghalaba. I was born in 1985 and have already worked many years with tourists in the Monastery of St Catherine, in the teashops on Mount Sinai, with camels on mountain treks and as a guide in the High Mountains.
My grandfather worked as a baker in the monastery, preparing bread for the monks and the traditional bread that was handed out to the Bedouin.
My father, Musa, worked as a mountain guide, but before that he lived in his garden in Wadi Rumana in the High Mountains where he grazed goats, grew vegetables and tended fruit trees: pomegranates, figs, apples, almonds, grapes and olives.
In 1968, just after the Israeli occupation, heavy rain storms damaged the gardens and swept away the soil. It was then that he left the mountains and settled in the village of St Catherine. He found work in the monastery and the village restaurant, but every summer he would return to the High Mountains where he lived with my mother in Wadi Abwuleia.
The garden of Wadi Rumana is now a campsite for hikers and the house in Wadi Abwuleia is standing empty.
I belong to the Jabaleya tribe which has always worked with the monks of the monastery and assisted pilgrims. We have many different roots: some of us arrived from Rumania in the 6th century under instructions from the Emperor Justinian to serve the monks, others were sent from Alexandria as soldiers to protect the monastery from raiders, and yet others came from the Sudan. My clan is called Himeida but my family is Abu Higeezi, so we must have come from the Higez in Saudi Arabia. For six generations my immediate family has been nicknamed Abu Ghalaba (father of all chatterboxes) because of my ancestor who talked too much in the monastery.
I still feel my roots are in the mountains. I couldn’t live without them. And despite my talkative ancestor, I love the quiet of the mountains.
For the last few years I have been working for tourist companies as well as individuals. I have organized walking treks in the High Mountains, supported personal meditation in the mountain gardens and arranged jeep and camel safaris.