Before I update you on all the wonderful things we’ve been doing, I just want everyone to know that we are safe. If you’ve seen the news there was a raid on some ships in Israel. Our tour company said they are keeping an eye on the situation and will change our plans if they think it us unsafe, but so far everything is still scheduled as planned.
It’s so interesting that the attack happened when it did because everyone in our group seems to feel safer and more comfortable here. Today when we stopped for lunch in the Negev Desert a group of young men and women who are in military training stopped for lunch also stopped for lunch. Here all military people carry weapons with them at all times. It’s pretty intimidating because they carry large machine guns. Some of the students and I interviewed some of the military people and it made us feel more at ease. I wrote a story on our experience that should appear in the print edition of the Hub.
But anyway, I found out some interesting things about the food we’ve been eating. Elias, Maha’s husband, has been stressed because he hasn’t been able to have coffee in the dining room with his meals. He asked around and found out it was because the buffet is kosher. Dairy and meat can’t be eaten together in the kosher diet. During dinner, no dairy products are seen on the buffet. At breakfast, the only meat is fish. Coffee isn’t served because coffee is often served with milk in it.
We started our day by traveling through the desert (It was 86 degrees at 8 a.m. when we left). We passed the Dead Sea factories used to extract minerals and salt from the sea water. We also drove by a military area that has a nuclear reactor. The area is a no-fly zone and there were signs everywhere that said no photographs were allowed. We also drove on a road that was two-way, but only had one lane. It was so scary because the area of the desert was very mountainous.
We traveled to Avdat, which is ruins that were once used as a weigh station for caravans that were carrying incense, perfume, spices and other goods. We then went to Makhtesh Ramon, which is a crater caused by erosion. It was really interesting to get such a view of the Israeli desert.
There weren’t many options for lunch in the desert, but we did happen to come upon a McDonald’s. I thought it was pretty hilarious that in the middle of nowhere in the desert the only restaurant is a McDonald’s. The whole menu was in Arabic and Hebrew so there was some confusion when ordering. But it’s McDonald’s, it was pretty much the same as in the U.S. Although they did have falafel on the menu. The prices, however, were not the same. A double cheeseburger was 38 shekels ($10), a happy meal was 24 shekels ($7) and the $1 menu was 10 shekels (about $3).
We came back to the hotel early today and some people went to the beach and others lounged by the pool. Our hotel has a spa with five pools, a Dead Sea salt water pool, two hot tubs, a tap water pool and a cold pool. We also have a beautiful outdoor pool. It was a wonderful relaxing afternoon. I needed it because I haven’t been feeling well the past two days. I don’t know if it’s the heat of the desert or what, but it’s really making me drag. I feel better now, so hopefully tomorrow will be better.
I have lots of wonderful photos to share, but Wordpress is still giving me trouble uploading photos. I will keep trying.