Today was one of two big days in the Negev. This morning we got up at 5am and took a couple mile hike to the top of a nearby “mountain” for the sunrise. We came back down to the Bedouin camp for a very short camel ride, fun but short, and for breakfast. We drove to Masada where we climbed the Roman Ramp to the top of the plateau. We spent several hours touring Masada and hearing Dani tell its varied stories. The views were spectacular and the history intriguing (see the pictures in the gallery). There were several Bar Mitzvas occurring there while we toured around, including a couple of our own group. There’s even a Jewish scribe who maintains his workshop in the old synagogue up there.
Eventually we descended the Snake Path to the eastern access and our bus, and lunch. From there we headed to the Ein Geddi Spa on the Dead Sea for our dip in the lowest and saltiest body of water in the world. We didn’t spend much time in the water, me barely any, and as I was the only one not mudding up, I was the designated photographer for the “therapeutic” mud baths. Afterwords we hung out in the hot springs there before taking off for our night of actual camping in the desert. We drove literally to the middle of nowhere where we met our rappelling guides for the next day.
The guides had prepared Potjiekos for us, which is basically a stew made in a cast iron pot called a potjie. It was one of our best meals here. After eating and setting up tents, we had another fire and this time with a lot less drinking. I’m turning in a bit early and sleeping cowboy style (without a tent, under the stars). I’m fortunate I brought my own sleeping bag. I have a feeling everyone else will be cold tonight. We’ll see how they feel tomorrow morning.