Saturday – the sixth day on the trail. We woke up inside the visitor center to discover the parking lot was full . I assume this was the back way into Timna park and people had come here to hike – after all it is their weekend. We hastily gathered up our stuff and found a sunny wall out back to recline against , have breakfast and chat.
We decided not to get back on the Park Loop( having seen the geological formations of Timna up close and personal the day before). So we took the narrow road out of the park that led to Highway 90. There is a 27 km stretch about 15 K further north that runs alongside the highway. You can rent a bicycle and ride that section but it seems most people just bus it. However being Shebat the buses would not start until mid afternoon
Arlene should’ve been an archaeologist. All along the way she’s found stuff we’ve made use of : four tomatoes, a can of tuna, half an apple Along the highway she found a sun hat a bottle of water , a half eaten package of Mento’s, rubber cord ,a keychain a zipper pull. Some things we kept or ate (meaning the Mentos).
A lovely older man in a beat up van offered us a ride about 10 km up the highway and dropped us off at a bus stop saying he expected the bus to show up within 30 minutes. And so it did. The bus was packed and we were obstructing the aisles with our humongous packs. People were so nice . some held the poles, others just made room at their feet for the packs . They all seem pleased we were hiking the Shvil . About 3 o’clock the driver let us off at the junction to Highway 13 which would eventually hook us up to the trail once again.
Across the road was a small mini mart with benches under an awning where you could eat a sandwich. Chickens and roosters were running around in some kind of petting zoo. We refilled our water bottles from the tap and bought some dates from a young Ethiopian sales guy who let us sample different kinds of dates from various packages which he then put back on the shelf . Happy with the dates and water we shuffled off under our heavier loads. Highway 13 was deserted and we had anywhere from 10 to 17 km to walk . no one seemed to know exactly how far. It was about 4 PM and we figured we would just have to camp by the side of the road despite the signs that warned “firing zone.”Only one car went by in about three quarters of an hour so we were resigned to keep walking till dark . The countryside was lovely – brown rolling hills ,mountains in the background – totally peaceful.
Then things took a sudden turn. A car was coming but it was going in the opposite direction. We decided to get the drivers attention and ask if he knew how far it was to the trailhead. (By the way almost everyone speaks English around here some very fluent; others struggle a bit but seem happy to practice on foreigners. ) Anyway to shorten the story they insisted we come back to their house for the night and they would drive us to the trailhead in the morning. We could leave our packs and they would bring them and water to the camp we would end up at after that after the days hike. So generous. First they served tea and cookies then gave us the run of a tiny house joining their own that they built for their son who is off in Colorado grooming ski trails. We showered , washed our clothes and as if that wasn’t enough they took us out to the community café that serves pizza and yogurt. Svia bought us an olive pizza and two yogurt parfait’s covered in pomegranate seeds and some tart berries and Chocolate. Such a treat. We met a bunch of her friends , gave them our blog addresses then went “home ” for the night . Svia and Yoel -trail angels – though not on the official list and that is not the end of their hospitality.
Such a lesson in kindness – many we’ve seen since being in Israel. Part of it is the national character , part sensitivity to being sort of homeless/isolated for so many centuries. Also they believe in the overall goodness of people and that good deeds are karmic – in other words it comes back to you. Plus I think many israelis travel and many of these “angels ” have received or their kids of been the recipients of the generosity and kindness of others.
I am writing this on Wednesday and much has transpired since this account of Saturday but Arlene and I are becoming completely enamored with the people and landscape of Israel.