"Okay, here’s the plan." Aaron started to explain, finally laying his cards out on the table for all to see. This was of great relief to Sydney, as she had been having doubts about the trip since their midnight escape into the night. "I've got all the camping gear and climbing equipment we need stashed about a quarter of the way up Judi. And how are we getting there, you ask? Simple, from here we’re going to fly."
"You know a pilot that can take us the rest of the way?" Nigel asked, his voice riddled with scepticism. "I would much rather drive, if it’s all the same to you."
Aaron stopped what he was doing and hunkered down to the Englishman’s eye level, sarcasm the order of the day. "Well, FYI, it is not all the same to me, mate. You’re either flying with us, or you’re staying here. The choice is entirely yours. This is an extremely dangerous thing we’re attempting to do here, and if you don’t think you can keep up with Sydney and me, hell, maybe you should just stay behind."
Nigel defiantly crossed his arms over his chest and gave Aaron a defeated look. He knew the man was baiting him, and staying behind was really NOT an option. His silence over the matter signalled to Aaron that this discussion was now at a close.
"Good, then it’s settled." Aaron turned to Sydney and winked. "I knew he’d be reasonable Syd. You just gotta know what buttons to push."
Sydney could feel the tension between the men, and immediately felt bad for her friend. As much as she knew it wasn't Aaron's intent to belittle Nigel, sadly, that was the result. "Come on Nigel, just forget about it ok?" Her fingers circled about his wrist and she pulled him after her.
The farmer’s field he had arranged to meet this so-called pilot at was approximately ten miles out of town, a tobacco farm. Not too far, Nigel thought, compared to their seemingly endless odyssey the other night. They approached from the east, following the direction of the setting sun. In the distance he could see the silhouette of some sort of circa 1930’s flying machine and quietly steeled himself for what lay ahead.
The flight lasted a little over two hours without incident, darkness had fallen, and again Nigel and Sydney felt as if they were running blind. Aaron sat in the back with them until the final leg of the flight, and once again went into his spin on how Mount Judi was indeed, the resting-place of the Ark.
"But Aaron, the Bible says Ararat." She argued, still not completely convinced they were going to the right mountain.
"If you look closely, the Bible doesn’t specifically name Mount Ararat." He plucked a pocket Bible from his backpack and opened the book to the spot. "You see, Ararat lends itself to become the Biblical location, an area of intense searches by many Christians and non-Christians alike. The Bible states here in Genesis 8:4, then the ark rested...on the mountains of Ararat... Being the highest mountain and easiest to find, everyone just takes for granted that it’s the right one. Sydney, if you bothered look at the map already, you would know that Cudi Dagh, or Judi, is still within the bounds of the Biblical regions of Ararat, or Agri Dagh."
"Syd," Nigel took the map into his hands and studied it a second time, "if this is true, then maybe Aaron really does have something in Mount Judi. Cudi Dagh overlooks the Mesopotamian plain and is quite notable for its archaeological ruins therein. Many references have been made to it in history." He started getting positively excitable, and instinctively turned to his trusted partner for her concurrence and most respected opinion. "Sennacherib, that was what, 700 B.C. Syd?"
"I think so Nigel, yes." She was riveted to the direction he was taking this, and placed her hand on his shoulder in earnest. "Please, keep going."
"All right then, I’m on the right track! The Assyrian king carved architectural ornamentations of himself on the side of the mountain. The Nestorians, another sect of Christianity, built their monasteries around the mountain including one on the summit called ‘The Cloister of the Ark’. I believe it was destroyed by lightning in 766 A.D."
"And the Muslims later built a mosque on the site! There's a stone structure still at the summit with the shape of a ship. The locals call it ‘Sefinet Nebi Nuh’." Sydney added.
"The Ship of Noah." Aaron finished.
"Yes!" Nigel’s face lit up like a starburst.
Aaron folded the map up and tucked it in his breast pocket. "Now all we have to do is navigate our way to the site, and you’ll both see for yourselves that I was right all along."
Go to Part Twelve.