22.09.2010 - 22.09.2010
I'm going camping! I’ll bet it’s just like summer camp in middle school. Only there are no camp counselors and it’s in the middle of a desert. The trip began as an idea from Steve’s friend Ranan. Initially, he was going with his girlfriend, her brother and the brother’s girlfriend. Their trip was already planned and eventually Ranan invited Steve and I.
When we take off from Tel Aviv and head out, I can hear the TV game show announcer describing our trip in his deep announcer voice.
“Congratulations! Your just won a four-day three-night stay in the desert. From Tel Aviv you will descend by car through the valley of the dead sea. You will arrive at you luxury accomidations where you will sleep on the ground and share a communal bathroom with 50 other people! This all could be yours if the price is right.”
OK, so it’s not luxurious, but it was quite an experience full of the unexpected. The first of the unexpected was finding out where we were sleeping at the first campsite. The other four traveling with us reseved a room with air conditioning and their own bathroom. However, since we did this last minute and it was the holiday of Sukkot, all rooms were all gone. There was a chance we could get a large, pre-built tent, but no guarantees. So we packed tents and sleeping bags just in case.
On the drive down to our campsite, we were more or less surrounded by sand. It was still a scenic drive.
On the way we made a stop for some food at a small town. We found a store that had the essentials.
There was also a general store with an interesting sign. Did I just have an Israeli Elvis sighting?
We bought our groceries, including the staples of bread and water. Throughout Israel the bread is always fresh.
To get to our campsite, we would drive past The Dead Sea. You know you’re getting close when you start seeing the altitude signs.
We drove right past the Dead Sea on our way to the campground, so we decided to stop for a quick look. This isn’t the beach area to hang out in. We would do that later.
It was both eerie and beautiful.
You can see the salt accumulations all over.
We finished exploring while the sun started to set. Better head to the campsite.
After some time in the car we finally make it. The campground told us there was a large tent available for us with sleeping matts. The tent was big enough for six, but we had it to ourselves. When we get there, it’s not exactly a tent. It’s a sukkah! A sukkah is a hut built for the holiday of Sukkot. One would build one to sleep in and make the roof semi see through so you can appreciate nature, the stars and the moon.
How cool is this! For the first two nights of Sukkot, we get to stay in a sukkah! For those not familiar with the holiday… acording to Wikipedia “Sukkot was regarded as a general thanksgiving for the bounty of harvest in the year that had passed.”
And “The sukkah is intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the ancient Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. Throughout the holiday the sukkah becomes the primary living area of one's home.“ Sukkot is considered a joyous occasion and staying in a sukkah was a great addition to the experience.
After our night in the sukkah, we will wake up earlt to get a head start on Masada.