Adventures at home, abroad, and online

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Day 6 – Jerusalem


I dig her

Today we went on an archaeology dig and fully embraced our Indiana Jones l participated in a real dig, excavating 2,000 year old trash piles. I found bits of animal bone, pottery and charred remains of cooking fires. Exciting stuff, and everyone (male and female) fell in love with the young guide.


Our soldiers

We were joined at lunch by six young soldiers, each younger than I am. They’re all predictably beautiful, toned by their service to their country. We broached political discussions carefully, but they were willing to talk about their experience. While I appreciate the democratic effect of universal conscription, I’m not sure it helps toward building a lasting peace. Each soldier we met was convinced that the enemy want to destroy us; which makes sense given their experience, but is not representative of the broader truth.


Challah back

We shopped both at a mall, and also at a real market in the city. Roughly half the group each enjoyed one experience and found the other intolerable. I loved the crowd at the market, surrounded by language and culture we didn’t get while driving on the bus, isolated from the community. And clicheed pictures abound.

Then we had a Shabbat service, which was inclusive of everyone’s level of Jewish knowledge. Oneg Shabbat was on the roof, celebrating the view and fresh air until the wee hours. Thank the Lord we don’t have to wake up tomorrow at 6.

Day 7- Shabbat

Slept until noon, mercifully. Spent most of the day lounging around, as it was too hot to take a tour of the Hasidic community. Then we drove through the Negev to Masada, where it was 45C at night. To bed at 11, knowing we have to wake up at 4.

Day 8 – Bedouin Camp


Masada sunrise

Climbed Masada for sunrise, which was useful both for the kitsch factor and to preempt the blazing sun. Jared and I hiked quickly to beat the crowd to the top and enjoy the silence, interrupted only by our heaving breath. The climb was maybe a mile, but almost 500 vertical meters. Sunrise was gorgeous, and I got some excellent pictures. I toured the site alone, and then again with the rest of the group.


Dead Sexy at the Dead Sea

We hiked down, and then drove to the fresh springs at Ein Gedi. The cool water counted both as my bath of the day, and the washing of my clothes. There was a good natured algae fight, with only a few civilian casualties. Then to the Dead Sea, where we bought the healing black mud and slathered it on. Jared and I did swamp monster impressions, and we floated superman style in the warm saline sea. Despite warnings that the brine would sting any open wounds, my cuts didn’t hurt too much.


Then to the Bedouin tenting experience, which was as much minstrel show as cultural interaction. We discussed various military ethical situations with our soldiers, which upset Jared and Kali. Then we were thrown into a boot camp simulation, where we learned the joys of doing pushups on brokn glass and performing manual labor. We decompressed by drinking wine from the bottle under the stars and throwing rocks at the darkness.

Day 9 – Tel Aviv


Desert Rose

Woke up in the tent, unmolested by spiders, despite Kali’s worst fears. Then we rode camels off into the desert, which was less fun that it might seem. The ride was pretty bumpy, and I actually walked back, letting someone else get jostled for ten minutes. The camel toe jokes flowed freely.

Then we stopped at a crater and Ben Gurion’s grave before we drove to Tel Aviv. Once there we went to the beach, where we ambushed Craig with squirt guns, and defended our women from the advances of speedo-clad Israelis.

Day 10/11 – Eilat

Today was the end of the group part of the journey, and the mood was somber. We did one last Kumbaya group meeting, and then went to Independence Hall for a final dose of propaganda. Then to the airport, where we were finally set free. We flew to Eilat, which was expensive but so much better than yet another long bus ride.


Really big Jordanian flag

Eilat is approximately 47C, which feels like being inside an oven. The town, which my mother described as quaint 30 years ago, is now a resort and strip mall, devoid of any real character. We might as well have been in Miami. However, the mall is air-conditioned and serves good shwarma. We went out to buy beer, but got fooled by Nesher Malty, which is non-alcoholic and tastes like motor oil. Despite the badass eagle label, it appears to just be for small men and pregnant women.

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