484 Route 10. WADI FIRAN. From Suez
places, while in other parts the valley expands to a considerable
width. The grey primitive rock, veined with reddish-bTowu por¬
phyry and black diorite, rises in picturesque forms ; these veins
run almost invariably from N. to S. The picturesqueness of the
scene is greatly enhanced by the imposing summits of the barren
mountains towering above the slopes of the valley to the south.
At the entrance of the valley, where at the foot of the Jebel Nesrtn
the small wadi of that name opens on the left, are several round
heaps of stones belonging to ancient tombs. On our right next
diverges the Wddi Nedtyeh, on the left the Wddi er-Remmdneh and
the Wddi Mokheres, and to the right again the Wddi el-Feshtheh,
the two last being commanded by peaks of the same names. The
next valleys on the right are the Wadis ed-Der, Nehbdn, Et-Tarr,
and Abu Gerraydt; and opposite the latter opens the Wddi Koser, a
valley of greater extent. A little before reaching the oasis, we pass
a rock called the Hesi el-Khattdtin, which is entirely covered with
small stones. Capt. Palmer was the first traveller who was told
by the Beduins that this rock was the one which yielded water
when struck by Moses.
The plants of the desert now occur more frequently, and are of
more vigorous growth; bushes of tamarisk, the nebk, the seyal, and
palm-trees, make their appearance, and the scene is enlivened by
the notes of birds of grey and dark plumage. We now quit the
desert, and with feelings of unmitigated delight, after a hot jour¬
ney of more than 5 hrs. in the Wadi Firan, we enter the Oasis of
Firan, the 'Pearl of Sinai', and by far the most fertile tract in the
whole peninsula. We first reach the dale of El-Hesweh, a few
hundred, paces only in length, watered by an inexhaustible brook
which is suddenly swallowed up by the earth here, after having
converted the whole of the valley above this point into a luxuriant
garden in the midst of the desert. The gardens are watered by
means of Shadufs or buckets; the dates grown here are celebrated.
Every tree has its proprietor, who obtains the whole of its produce,
even when he lives at a distance, his property being protected by
the honest Beduins of the oasis and the inmates of the monastery.
On the road-side, and on the left slope of the valley, are Beduin
huts, gardens, and the ruins of stone houses, dating from the time
of the ancient Firan. In 1/4 hr. more we reach a second small
group of palms, and for a few minutes we obtain a view of the W.
side of Mount Serbal. In 20 min. more we reach a wider part of the
valley, in which the rocky and isolated hill of El-Meharret rises to
a height of about 100 ft., bearing on its summit the traces of an
early Christian monastery and church. Exactly opposite the ruin
of the monastery the traveller should notice a very curious geolo¬
gical formation, consisting of a vein of green diorite in flesh-col¬
oured porphyry, which is in its turn imbedded in green mica-slate.
The largest fragment of the ruins, called Hererdt el-Keblr, stands