Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Liza – Queen of the Desert

"Welcome to Jordan and thank you for using UMNIAH GSM network. We wish you
a pleasant stay in Jordan. For customer care inquiries please dial XXXX"
This was the SMS text message that I received on Saturday morning as we drove along a trail known as the Peace Road, running parallel to the Jordanian border, deep in the Arava Desert between Moshav Idan and Moshav Ein Yahav.

As you may have surmised from the cacti photo in the blog header (taken on our porch), we are big fans of the desert. Without fail, whenever we head down south to either the Negev or the Arava, my mind immediately kicks into high gear as I try to come up with a feasible plan for relocating. Such was the case this past weekend, as we made our way through the Arava with various members of Husband's family, stopping here and there to see the sights and to hear absolutely nothing aside from the sounds of our own voices.

The desert in Israel is simply magnificent. While I've never been much of a hiker, there are few sights that I enjoy more than the stark desert landscape, with its ragged-edged mountains and snaking wadis, and as we delve in deeper and deeper, I feel more and more at peace with myself. Suddenly, nothing else matters, and my stress is gone. In fact, here's the text message that I sent to nrg after we arrived at our desert accommodations (with a few minor modifications):

"We're down in the desert. I'm sitting on a sofa outside of our little cottage, drinking coffee and watching the stars come out. It's absolutely incredible. Wish you could see it. Just had to tell someone how amazing it is here. We're right on the border with Jordan, and Husband's cell phone has even switched to a Jordanian network (as mine did the next morning). So incredible here. I don't want to leave."

And it truly was that incredible. We stayed at a little place on Moshav Hatzeva called La Siesta, and as you can see from the pictures, it was absolutely idyllic. We relaxed, we barbecued, we relaxed some more (especially after I downed my own mini-bottle of white wine at breakneck speed), and for the first time in a long time, I almost felt like me again. And, needless to say, I miss that feeling. Exhausted by the rat race and growing increasingly wary of hi-tech, my soul is in dire need of rejuvenation, which will hopefully happen before it's sucked away completely.


Anyway, back to the desert. We left mid-morning on Friday, stopping to drop off the dog with family and pick up one of the nephews, who would act as a playmate for the Little One during the long drive south. Following a brief detour through the bowels of Beersheva, in a fruitless search for a long-closed yet fondly remembered ice cream parlor, we left the world behind us, watching as the buildings were replaced by Bedouin communities and the cars were replaced with camels. Husband had put together an itinerary that ensured we would have a journey of never-ending vistas, and as usual when it comes to all things desert, he did not disappoint. We ooohed at lookout points over the big and small craters, we aaahed over the rock formation that somehow resembles a frog. We held on tight as we wound our way around the hairpin turns along the narrow road that hugs the crater wall, and we dragged the children on foot to admire the views and the solitude of the desert.


Upon arrival at our cottage, I gently placed the napping Little One in the middle of our big bed, and woke him up when dinner was ready. I spent the interim leaning back on the pillows on our patio, looking up at the stars and wishing that I could stay in that position forever. There is no sky like the desert sky at night, with its velvety blackness peppered by millions of sharp pinpoints of light. The desert and the sky seemingly go on forever, and without realizing it, you have become an integral part of this magnificent, awesome setting. The feelings of oneness with the surroundings are total and undeniably soothing, and suddenly, you feel complete and at peace in ways that you have forgotten are even possible. And this is how I felt.



Of course, it certainly helped that the weather was perfect, and unusually warm for this time of year. Winter nights in the desert are quite cold, and somehow, we'd lucked out. Our luck would continue into Saturday, as we saw the desert sights while wearing short-sleeves, and sometimes no sleeves, as Little One felt the need to remove his shirt whenever it got wet, which happened with greater frequency than one might expect. After making our way from one end of the Peace Road to the other (periodically thinking about my Jordanian friend Rami, knowing how much he misses the desert in his native country, and knowing that he would have enjoyed these views just as I did) and stopping briefly to view desert sculptures, we ended up at Park Sapir, where some of the adults prepared lunch while others chased a certain small, topless child over bridges, around a lake and through trees and bushes (who'd have guessed that such little legs could move so fast?! Pant pant...).

Following lunch and a tad more chasing, we packed up, collected all children, and headed for home, accompanied for most of the journey by an all-encompassing dust storm that turned the skies and the air a dull shade of brownish gray and making everything look hazy and blurred. The Little One slept, and I daydreamed about moving to the desert. As we say in this neck of the desert, life is something something...

13 comments:

rami said...

What a lovely post to read in the morning. I've been dreaming about the desert, now the whole of sweden is covered in Snow.

Last weekend we drove about 220 north, and as I was driving, the wind carried snowfalkes across the street in a twirling way that reminded me of how the wind carries sand back in Jordan. Also the long stretches of white empty fields, reminded me of those in jordan, sand instead of snow.

Really lovely that you've remembered me, it means alot to me that you said that! I didn't know you had a cottage in the desert, I got excited inviting myself to go to it next time I am in the neighbourhood! hehe

The pictures were great too, you should post more pictures!

Have a nice day, you made mine.

rami said...

One more thing.

A few years back, I was in a journalists workshop on the Jordanian side of the dead sea. Following the workshop, I went down for a dip with some of the Iraqi participants.

Once we were at the sea, one of the iraqis asked me, what's that land on the other side. I said, well, over there you can see jericho, jeruslaem is just up those hills..etc

They were like, but where are all the tanks and soldiers?

I said, there's no tanks or soldiers anymore. This is what its like to be at peace.

Nicole said...

Looked at the Tzimmer site - it looks lovely. Can you share prices please?

tafka PP said...

Nothing like the desert sky at night: I've even written a song about it!

as said...

lush

Beth said...

Your post just made me feel so relaxed! I love the pictures. I now have more destinations for my Israel trip! ;)

lisoosh said...

What a lovely post. The desert is fantastic - the earth bared down to essentials and naked, it provides a unique sensation of solitude.
The zimmer looked good too, glad you had such a relaxing time.

Rami, liked your Iraqi journalist story.

Life Out East said...

Great pictures. I really want to go to Israel. Closest I've been is Egypt and I really enjoyed that. Maybe later in the year. I've come close to going so many times and then something happens.

nrg said...

as: that is actually a rather lush-like quantity of wine for our dearest Liza!!

And the reasons for me to get my butt to Israel are just starting to pile up, here...it was beautiful! Maybe you can put on my norwegian winter wonderland photos next! :-)

BagelUndertheCouch said...

wonderful, wonderful. can't say i share the appreciation...deserts tend to freak me out and whenever i think of the arava, i think of winding roads and carsickness...but the pics really are beautiful, thanks for sharing.

david santos said...

Hello!
This work is very good, thank you

Tololy said...

Hey Liza,

I think we get a similar message down in the south of Jordan when we're driving sort of parallel to the Israelian border. What network was that, Orange? I don't remember exactly.

Great post, love the cacti. I am a huge fan of cacti.

Liza said...

Hi Tololy,

It definitely could have been Orange, though there are also a few other providers in Israel - Cellcom, Pelephone...