Well we made it! Long flights but uneventful, at least for me. Arlene was interrogated in Toronto by Israeli officials regarding the purpose of her visit, her bags were gone through. She was the last to board the plane. Interestingly enough, she met the original founders of the Shelter Hostel in Eilat (where we will start our trek) who were coming back to Israel for a holiday. We will be flying to Eilat this afternoon – on this cool stormy day in Tel Aviv. The beach is just across the road from the hostel. The surf is rough, the wind gusty but there are lots of joggers running along the street and sand. The hostel, which unfortunately smells a bit like an outhouse (bad plumbing??) is very comfy. There’s a kitchen on the roof. At the moment we’re perched on our beds looking out on the Mediterranean, writing and drinking tea. We’ve examined the contents of eachother’s packs and Arlene wins the award for most spare packer. I couldn’t find a single superfluous item which is impressive for even the most fastidious packer caves in for some sort of luxury item, even if it is only an extra Chapstick.
Because there is no public transportation after about 3pm on the eve of the Sabbath (Friday night) we had to take a cab from the airport to the hostel. the driver was a congenial fellow who complained about the price of everything in Israel. Basic apartments can be as high as a million dollars, food is expensive. I’m assuming people have average salaries but are taxed heavily, as he also complained about all the money being poured into he military. He had found himself a nice demure Polish wife because, in his opinion, Israeli women, after serving their obligatory 2 year stint in the army, were too aggressive for his liking. And Polish women get that way after being exposed to females in Israel! But would he like to move? Never. Israel is the best , the sun always shines….well not today.
After getting settled into our digs for the night we went out to check out the neighbourhood. We bought some kind of pastry thing filled with cheese, olives, potatoes, and were given a free sample of Turkish baklava by the shopkeeper, which we ate on the beach. Got myself an Israeli phone number – a good deal from the hostel – (it is recommended not to change money or buy cell phone plans or other paraphernalia from the airport kiosks). We kicked back and read and chatted, mainly about our good fortune to be here, to be able to pursue this adventure and all the positive things we hope to get out of this experience. It would be nice if my pack was 20 pounds lighter, if I could read Hebrew, and if Israeli power sockets used a quarter of the power they do (really, power mysteriously drains from newly charged devices – like some form of technological blood-letting. )We are hoping this is a quirk of this particular hostel and not a feature of Israel’s electrical system. We are also hoping that the solar charger, currently untested, lives up to its reputation. Other than that, all is well.Till next time….