We’re getting better at packing up in the morning. Nava is convinced that she has a biological clock that wakes her up exactly when she sets herself to. She claims she wakes up right on time at 5:15, but then she falls back asleep until… Wednesday was a tough hiking day. There were intense ascents and descents climbing up, down, and all around boulders that look as if a giant came with a huge hammer and had a mental breakdown. We felt this contradicting parable standing on those high cliffs looking back at the challenging climbs behind us. On one hand, we felt so small in comparison to those gigantic mountains and yet we felt huge and powerful that we succeeded to climb them.
As the sun was setting on our backs, we were thinking of a place that we could fill up water for the next days hike. We recalled a lady who had picked us up in a hitchhike a few days ago. She was late for a meeting, so she mentioned while we were pulling our packs out of the car, “Just remember, if you need anything, My name is Tal Shani and I live at Dekel Dom 1.” For two days straight, we had been repeating, “Tal Shani, Dekel Dom 1.” We sang it, we hummed it, we shouted it, we whistled it (is that possible?), I even played it on my harmonica. Before we knew it, we were on her doorstep. Her husband, Itai answered the door and did not seem as surprised as we expected. First, they offered to fill up our water, then coffee and tea, then a shower, then wifi, and by seven o’clock, they already were pulling out their spare bed for us. By eight o’clock, Itai gave us money to go to the local store to buy milk and at nine o’clock Tal asked us if we could babysit her kids while she and Itai went out for their anniversary. We were happy to help.
Itai works in tracking birds migration patterns in the area and we really enjoyed talking and getting to know the whole family (their pets included). Itai keeps a birding blog which you should all check out! www.eilatbirding.blogspot.com We left before the sun was up, psyched for the intense climb of Timna Mountain. On the way there, we passed Park Timna. We asked a passing maintenance man for an explanation of the site and he offered us a free tour as he went around to collect the garbage. Park Timna is a tourist attraction displaying interesting rock formations caused by flash floods. We saw a boulders that they claimed looked like mushrooms, screws, and sphinxes. We were not so impressed, so we left our trashman friend and made our own exhibit. What do you think?
We ran into hikers while setting up our exhibit and they asked us for some of “What made us so happy.” Then they told us that rain was on its way and decided that maybe we shouldn’t sleep outside tonight. We pulled out our map made some calls and started hitch hiking to Kibbutz Ne’ot Smadar. Throughout our adventure, we had heard many things about Ne’ot Smadar. We heard that it’s a beautiful place, that the members are snobs, that they eat meals in silence, that they switch houses every two years, and many other strange things so we really did not know what to expect.
Literally the moment we passed the front gate, before talking to one soul, I felt as if time stopped. To my right was this huge, pink and blue colored tower with exquisite detail and a long winding gated pathway leading you there. We felt like we were dreaming. Dinner was an experience. The dining hall is set up in a “U” shape and members must sit starting from one end in the next available seat, this way they say you always sit with someone new, yet there is no talking. Very strange. You raise your hand when you want something refilled and the day’s waiters come to fill. All you hear is the clinking of silverware in a room filled with 200 people. In the morning we woke up at 5:45 to join with their morning ritual. Everyone meets up in the dining hall, pours a cup of tea, and sits down wherever they want. We then sit in silence, in the dark, for twenty minutes. Eventually, someone starts playing the flute. Then someone else says, “Good morning.” Then one by one everyone gets up and goes to work.
We volunteered in the gardens and did some landscaping. We were with about twenty workers and rarely talked the entire time. After breakfast, Nava and I had enough. We decided to go back to that gorgeous building for a last look and a few pictures and then to head to Kibbutz Ketura, where I have family friends to stay with for Shabbat.
The pink and blue building at Ne’ot Smadar is their Artist Workshop Studio where many artists come to work. The building took 13 years to build and was built and designed by members of the Kibbutz (they say that they are more of a school for searching the essence of man). Nava was really amazed and intrigued as was I, but I was far more hesitant than she was. I felt very uncomfortable the whole time there and was very relieved once we had left. Now I am happy to report we are at Kibbutz (yes, an actual kibbutz) Ketura. Weather is not so grand so we’ll see about Saturday night. Got to get ready for Shabbat now. Don’t stop at just reading our adventures, come to Israel and make your own!