Did you miss us? Sorry, we’ve been wandering around the desert with no human contact, food or shelter. Nava’s currently standing at the tip of the tallest sand dune with a metal clothes hanger to get reception while I type. Okay you caught us, we over exaggerated a little. Over the past three days, we’ve had the pleasure of connecting with amazing strangers who have opened up their homes, given us a ride, or loaded our pack with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Our first interesting encounter was the night before we started the Israel Hiking Trail. We found online that there is a hostel in Eilat that hosts “shvilistim” (the Hebrew word for hikers on the INT) Upon arrival, we were treated with warm coffee, sheets, towel, and a pocket-sized copy of the New Testament. The Dutch receptionist informed us of tomorrow’s schedule, “Reception will be only open at seven thirty after Bible study.” Nava asked which part of the Bible they would be studying. “John III” Nava was disappointed to find out the class was for staff only. So we went to sleep that night with a painting of Jesus Christ watching over us. If you are interested in learning about or sleeping at the Shelter Hostel, you can look them up on their website at http://www.shelterhostel.com
So far, the desert has been amazing. We finally got used to all the weight on our backs, especially difficult on the intense inclines. We trekked through the wide range of shapes and colors of the Eilat mountains. We started off in what we nicknamed “Bubble Gum Drop Mountain,” pink and purple mountains where the rocks had been rounded down by flash floods that storm through creating beautiful, smooth, swirly designs. We knew we left Candyland when we began to see razor sharp, charcoal black mountains shooting out of the ground. It reminded us of a Lord of the Rings style “Valley of Death.”
Yesterday, I might have gotten us a bit lost and we ended up by a main road instead of by our campsite. We made a rash decision to go out of our way and sleep by a family friend of mine at Kibbutz Lotan. We planned on leaving first thing in the morning to get back to the trail, but when we were offered to help milk goats at the break of dawn, we couldn’t resist. It was only lunchtime while Nava and I were stuffing our faces (third buffet plate anyone?) that we realized we had been brainwashed to help out in the eco-park all morning, detouring from our trail on measly day two. I guess it wasn’t all them, Nava and I were happy to lend a hand. Lotan is a Reform Kibbutz consisting of 150 unique individuals just North of Eilat. The Kibbutz is very innovative in alternative building and agriculture in order to withstand the harsh desert conditions. They are truly an example of pioneers who succeeded in making the barren desert bloom. They aspire to become a self-sustaining, permaculture based community. We slept in a mud house, played in a playground of recycled materials, and helped out in their organic gardens. As a thank you, they gave us some fresh, organic sweet potato and radish for the way. THAT WAS THE MOST DELICIOUS RADISH I EVER DID EAT! Kibbutz Lotan is a perfect example of why Israel is named The Start Up Nation. You should look them up on their website at http://www.kibbutzlotan.com.
Okay now we’re back on the path, hoping to trek through until Shabbat. Nava went on an intimate sunset walk with G-d while I set up the tent and made a nice, warm fire. For dinner we ate Sweet Potato Quinoa Dirt Soup… yum. Wonder what Nava will come up with next. Time to go to sleep. There are lots of stars out tonight, so it’s going to be chilly. How do I know that? Go to your local library and do some research! Whoever posts a comment with the right answer will win a free night stay at the Hostel in Eilat, “The Shelter,” on us. We’ll even throw in a free organic radish. Th-th-that’s all folks, good night!