By Kyla Balkan '16 and Joanna Kamhi '15
Today was full of trials and tribulations, but don't worry Jewish mothers, we still managed to hike for less than 20 minutes. We started the day on a somber note, saying goodbye to the soldiers as well as the delicious breakfast buffet we had become accustomed to at kibbutz Ginnosar. But thanks to Facebook, we can continue to keep in touch and share selfies with them, although they still refuse to acknowledge twitter as a viable social media platform. Our count off will never be the same without their heavily accented pronunciation of #37-#44.
Our first stop was a bougie rest stop en route to the Negev where we ate "Mexican" flavored chips and saw our first camel parked nearby. Back on the bus, the all-knowing Shany continued to outline the Palestinian-Israeli conflict while some of us napped.
We arrived at the Dead Sea where we covered ourselves in globs of mineral enriched mud and took copious photos. Once it dried, we took a dip and almost drowned! (Just kidding, we floated by pure magic and the high salt concentration of the lowest point in the world.) Then we all complained about our splotchy dry skin and burning blisters and covered ourselves in samples from the tester lotions in the Ahava store. Personally I think the Dead Sea saps the minerals out of the unaware bathing humans and that's why it is so enriched and the rest of us were left so tired.
Next we headed to Ein Gedi where our hike was short, sweet, and full of ibex and other unidentified creatures (mongoose? Prairie dog? Either way it was really cute). We wanted to hike higher but Shany claimed to be too out of shape, a thinly veiled excuse as she is a fierce aerobic machine. We ate various fillings in a pita at "in-a-pita."
We then traveled to the Bedouin camp and back in time to ride on on their pet dinosaurs that they call "camels." They are regal creatures with haphazardly attached jaws and a tranquil nature. If we had asked the "camels" if we could ride on them instead of just excitedly jumping into their makeshift saddles, I imagine they would have responded, "Baduk." The ride itself was a roller coaster of gentle swaying and not so gentle double jointed camel knees.
We were introduced to Bedouin life by Mohammed, who has three wives and twenty-one children with two on the way. He considers both the Jews and the Jordanians "like cousins" but we couldn't help but wonder if this act was a little rehearsed. Also, a little mental math of our own revealed that while he looked 50, the ages he gave for when he started having kids and the age of his oldest child would make him 35. We ate a traditional "Hafla" dinner sans utensils or plates. Lamb meatballs were included so everyone was happy. Next, we braved the camel poop as we trekked into the desert for some individual nighttime reflection in silence. In true Taglit fashion, this was followed by a discussion where we learned about each other's spiritual experiences with reflection and introspection. We are about to go to sleep in a giant heated Bedouin tent aka snugglefest 2014.