Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Taglit Mayanot Day 6: Masada and the Dead Sea

It's been a week since I left Israel after an amazing two weeks on Birthright. I am transcribing the journal from my trip day by day. To start at the beginning, click here!

January 2, 2013

Hebrew word of the day: Soreff (שרוף) = Burning
This morning our hostel was surrounded by gedi (mountain goats). We got to Masada around 10:30 AM and hiked up the snake path to the top. I am going to be sore tomorrow, but it was completely worth it! The desert is amazing. It stretches out in a mix of flat, rocky land and huge towering mountains. It is hot in the middle of winter and I can't imagine what it is like in the summer. Still, I want to come back in the summer and do the 4:00 AM Masada hike to be on the top for the sunrise. I bet the sunrise in the desert is gorgeous.

After Masada, we went to the Dead Sea. The mud was a lot of fun and, on our tour guide's recommendation, I let it mostly dry before going in the Dead Sea to wash it off. My skin was super smooth after. I was a little nervous about the Dead Sea, because everyone said it would burn (see the word of the day), but it didn't burn at all. One of the people in our group got splashed in the eye and it looks really bad, but apart from that, no one had any burning issues. Floating all on your own is the weirdest feeling.
View of the Negev from Masada
The hour and a half drive from the Dead Sea to the Bedouin tents turned into three hours, because our bus driver got lost. We did finally get there though and went straight to dinner. The food was delicious - hummus and pita and Israeli salad served family-style while sitting on mats in a tent. After dinner, we toasted marshmallows and sang songs around a camp fire. At midnight, a small group of us went into the desert for בּדד (aloneness). We walked away from each other and sat alone in the dark. A half moon dimly lit the land around us. I was surprised by how rocky the desert is. Sitting in the dark exhausted from Masada and smelly from the Dead Sea mud, I could only stare at the moon hanging just above a hill and think about distance. My concept of the desert before today was a stretch of sand going flat in all directions with maybe a sand dune or two. In reality, the desert is rocky and hilly. I imagined being able to see forever in all directions, but the hills get in the way of that. I sat there wondering what was on the other side of the hill and could easily imagine wandering for 40 years just looking for what was over the next hill. The desert is amazing; it's like life. If you climb a hill, you might just see more sand, rocks, and another hill, or it could be a valley, or you could see a wild animal (so be careful). We don't know what's over the next hill in life, but we should keep climbing to see, because it could be something really awesome.

Next stop: Jerusalem!