In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing about my recent adventures in Israel. From snorkeling in the Red Sea near the border of Egypt; to staying in a kibbutz in the middle of the Negev; to falling in love (in the purest sense of the word) with a Yemen chef/comedian (if only he were 20 years younger), a poet-philosopher Israeli tour guide (if only he was 20 years older), and the charming owner of an exquisite artisan co-op (if only I hadn’t spent so much money); there was never a dull moment in this volatile land that is destined to be pitted against the world.
My time there was both profoundly spiritual and visually enticing—a smorgasbord of worldly delights paired with inexplicable stirrings of the soul that came at the oddest times … forcing the tears to flow. Like the proverbial baby bird looking for its origins in the classic children’s story, I found myself wanting to ask of Israel, “Are you my mother?”
My coming two or three posts will be all about the Negev. I spent over a month there and elsewhere in Israel traveling with my friend who had recently made Aliyah. For the uninformed, Aliyah is the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the Land of Israel. Also defined as “the act of going up”—that is, towards Jerusalem—”making Aliyah” by moving to the Land of Israel is one of the basic tenets of Zionism.
.My friend Ronna and I had traveled together throughout Europe in the weeks before coming to Israel. How that happened is a pretty miraculous story. Upon deciding I was going to Israel, I had called my acquaintance—whom I barely knew—simply to ask if she could recommend a place for me to stay. Before our conversation was over, she relayed to me that she had “itchy feet” (can you relate?) and wanted to know if I would I mind if she joined me on my trip to Cornwall and Tuscany. (In a sense, beautiful Cornwall was my Aliyah, though no way could I ever live there. I would freeze my “arse” off while trying to stave off inevitable bouts of depression owing to the unrelenting gray skies.)
Needless to say, Ronna’s impromptu proposal took me aback. As anyone would be, I was a bit nervous about the prospect of traveling with someone I didn’t know all that well. Thankfully, it turned out to be the most providential decision I made all year—and given how many “wide doors of opportunity” opened for me in 2017, that’s saying a lot.
Ronna was a most excellent traveling companion—extemporaneous but level-headed (especially under pressure), easy-going but not a bore. Actually, she had a great sense of humor, which is pretty much an essential trait in traveling buddies. Moreover, and much to her credit, she was able to tolerate my quirky INFP personality.
But all that “What travel personality are you?” will come later. Here to whet your appetite for my upcoming posts about the stark and expansive Negev, where beauty is found in the most unexpected places, is a photo of just one of the many cliffs that make up the Ramon Crater. Note the mother Nubian ibex and her kid (a species of mountain goat found in parts of the Middle East and Africa) making their way down the cliff.
Better them than me. That’s one steep, rocky descent!
Coming next week – Journey into the Negev – Mitzpe Ramon and Timna Park