01 October 2007 – 11:29
Route for Day Four
If hills suck, mountains are even worse.
Anyhow, the moshav was nice. The guest place was way at the back – almost at the Jordanian border, actually – so this morning I had to bike ten kilometers just to get back to the highway, through fields of tomatoes and other plants, which had been carefully covered so as to maximize moisture retention.
They fed me very well last night – pita and hummus and rice, beef and turkey (yes, they do have it here! Now I just have to figure out how to get my hands on some for Thanksgiving), and three kinds of chopped salad. I was originally going to sleep outside, but the hostess took pity on me and let me sleep on a mattress – more of a pad, really (that’s what mattresses here are) – in their big Bedouin-style tent, which was awesome. The guest place was full of families there to camp for Sukkot and whatnot.
As I biked out at five this morning, I passed tractors full of people heading in to work.
Climbing out of the Dead Sea area was murder. I had gotten to about one or two hundred meters above sea level and was absolutely shot, when an older man in a little Toyota pickup pulled over, He was going to Be’er Sheva, so he brought me as far as Dimona and the Yeruham road, which was really nice. We managed to have some sort of conversation on the way – he didn’t speak English, so it was slightly challenging for me.
On the way to Yeruham I was passed by a group of ten cyclists, wearing jerseys that read “Motorola Cycling Team”. I was definitely envious – they had road bikes and clips and bike shorts and nothing to carry. I talked to a few of them – they were going to Mitzpe Ramon, also, and they had a car waiting for them in Yeruham. Grrr.
I’m in Yeruham right now, at a tiny gas station, hoping that I’ll be able to get lunch here. It has kind of a frontier feeling about it – most people are just passing through on the way to Mitzpe Ramon or Sde Boker or Be’er Sheva. A trio of dirt bike riders stopped over for half an hour, with some extremely scratched up dirt bikes and wearing what was essentially plastic armor. Earlier, a little Bedouin boy, swathed in robes and a headscarf, drove his sheep across the road. He had a tiny donkey that was barely bigger than himself.
…. Well, the food options are not as substantial as I’d hoped – either a chocolate croissant or chips – (I don’t know what chips are in Hebrew, as “tzips” are fries). I’m passing on the chips – I don’t need anything to make me thirstier. But I had a big dinner last night, and I have plenty of energy bars, thanks to Aunt G.
The climate is great, compared to the Dead Sea region. It’s higher, so even at midday the air is cool, and there’s a good breeze. And very few flies, which is excellent.
I want to see if the Mitzpe Ramon observatory is open to the public. I think it’s administered by Tel Aviv University.
Looking down on the Dead Sea region, with its absolute – well – deadness, aside from the eleven types of bacteria that can survive in the water – one wonders what Lot saw in that region. Maybe further north (he liked the Jordan plain), but not around Sdom. There’s at least things growing in the Negev, and the Bedouin keep sheep there, but I guess fire and brimstone can mess up a place pretty bad.