A Free Day and a Hike in the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Saturday, November 2-
Pastor Nabors (comments in regular type): A few of us are recovered enough to rise early and take a hike in a National Park Reserve. I don’t know where this energy has come from, but I thank the Lord for it. We board a van early and travel about twenty minutes to the reserve. We have an amazing tour guide who just celebrated his 53rd wedding anniversary. He is a Yemenite Jew, as dark as me and about 75. As soon as we enter we are met by a herd of Ibex who walk across our path at this early hour, munching on leaves and bushes. The animals are able to climb steep hills, which provides them refuge from predators. They were an amazing site!
The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is located near the eastern edge of the Judean Desert on the shore of the Dead Sea. Two valleys run through the reserve. We go through the northern valley called the Wadi David. It is very dry, but our guide tells us during rainy season (soon to come) the rains fill the valley and there is flash flooding. He says many children have disappeared because they do not heed warnings. This ancient water source has been an attraction to people for millennia. A traditional story is told that this is where David escaped from Saul after being threatened in Jerusalem, when the King was intent on killing him. He came to one of the caves located in the mountains of the Ein Gedi. With a fresh water supply and beautiful waterfalls, he remained here for a short period of time. We hike to three water falls with shrubbery and greenery everywhere, this in the middle of the desert. It is astonishingly beautiful. One person said, “If you have to die, this is as good as any place on earth.” Of course I was thinking, “If one wants to live in the desert, this is as good as any place on earth.” We ascend about 200 feet, and find the largest waterfall. Some of our group jump in the water. Not me. I had my share yesterday! We hike back to the base and then take the van back to the resort. The rest of the day is “free time” and I am behind my computer, taking it to these keys and writing these words. Blessed beyond description.
Rabbi London: I love this hike (and I go into the waterfall!). I agree with Michael about how spectacularly beautiful it is. Daniel brings his frisbee which has gone everywhere with us o the trip. I catch a picture of the two of them tossing the frisbee. They are not just amazing colleagues—brilliant and committed to pursuing justice—but also just plain fun to be with.
After a couple of hours I go out with about an hour of daylight left. The sun sets at 4:45 PM today. I casually walk all over the resort- taking in cinematography that is mind boggling. The jutting mountain peaks are to the north and east of the Resort while the Dead Sea and its gentle waters are due west. Turn one way and there is nothing but desert and rocky terrain, strewn with mountains. Turn the other way, and there is nothing but the Dead Sea and on the other side, the country of Jordan. I am surprised but pleased that Wi-Fi is connected all the way here at the lowest place on earth.
We have a brief service ending Sabbath (Havdalah) in the courtyard under a Baobab tree. Rabbi Andrea has an impossible, difficult time making sure the candle is lit, as the winds pick up speed. After, we walk up the hill to the restaurant for dinner. Back down to Room 31 to pack and get a good night’s rest for our final day in Israel.