It’s cold and rainy in Arad. The town only gets a few rain days a year and these are two of them. Arlene and I both stayed at the guest house Saturday and Sunday night as it’s impossible for me to hike at the moment and who wants to walk in cold rain? We blogged, chatted, talked to Michaela. I called Fraser. (I’m used to sharing my personal tragedies with him and he can certainly empathize with knee issues). So nice to have Arlene here for the extra day. I think the plan is she will push off tomorrow northwards to Jerusalem ( a 7 day hike to the Jerusalem Trail if you follow the guide’s timetable.) I have no choice but to stay here and see what happens to the knee. I’ve been icing religiously, taking Advil- tonight I will take the big guns and hope they do their job without killing me). Arlene took a trip out tonight to get me groceries and some cash. Of course Michaela fed us and drove her around. Always helpful. The name of her guest house is The Desert Bird. She has a website and is also a member of ILH which is the Israeli hostel network. Highly recommend this place for anyone – families, backpackers , anyone really.
I forgot to mention all the Orthodox Jews we saw on Saturday. I assume they dress that way all the time, not just on Shabbat – hopefully I can get a picture of the men in their black gowns and these huge round black fur hats. We were told it was some relic from Russian days when the weather was cold, but it is not really a hat to keep your ears warm as it sits too high. Sort of like the top of a spherical sewer grate perched on their heads. Apparently they wear this even in summer when it is 40c. Another version is more like a black cowboy hat. The men walk like they have a board up their spine ( or something somewhere else), looking fairly unnatural. Orthodox women work outside the home, raise the kids, do all the housework, while the men “study”. Archaic. The kids go to their own school, just as the Bedouins do. This is certainly a very mixed, but tolerant society.
MONDAY Day 15
Arlene decided to leave around noon and go partway to Amasa, a kibbutz in the mountains. She ended up taking a bus to Tel Arad and then walking back to find the trail. While she was checking the map, a car drove up and the occupants told her it wasn’t safe to hike up the mountain where the rain would likely become snow. How fortunate for her! They gave her a ride to the Kibbutz, which reserves a small room with a mat on the floor for hikers. We talked to each other on the phone, both feeling a little lonely and lost- uncertain about what might happen next, missing each other’s company. We wondered if we should go back south where it’s warm but I think the weather will improve here in a couple days. Nights remain cold! We could take a bus to Cairo and see the pyramids. But I need to be able to walk freely- maybe not hike, but at least walk. We still have to get to Masada and spend a couple days at the Dead Sea, so that’s on the agenda, and of course I still plan on meeting her closer to the Jerusalem Trail and walk the 40 km into the city. Perhaps a shot of cortisone in the knee might help. I’ve suggested it to the insurance and if they agree I’ll pursue that option.
Rachel is going to Nome, Alaska for a year. Home of the Ididerod, Balto the dog and apparently of alien abductions. How exciting- a community without roads in or out and 24 hour winter days (or nights, depending on your perspective). We had a nice long FaceTime chat which was great!!
Sent off the answers for the Malahat Review’s interview, which will be published in their March issue, so for anyone who is interested, you can check that out on their website next month.
Michaela trains post army students to go into schools and do tourist things- history etc… She had a group of 4 girls over this afternoon for lunch and training. This morning apparently they went flood chasing. Since it rained last night the wadi was flooded ( the one we would have walked up today) so they were all excited and went to check it out and take pictures. I joined them later for food, but can’t help feeling a bit lost without the discipline of the trail – of not being able to walk freely, of missing any action Arlene is experiencing, of just missing my hiking buddy.
So today, TUESDAY day 16, the feelings are heightened because I’m all alone in this big house. Even the dog goes to work with Michaela. I’m assuming Arlene is on the trail heading north, so she will be fairly occupied. It will be a long day to Meiter and hopefully the trail will not be too slick. I’m sure I’ll get a text or call when she’s done for the day.
So I sit here, admittedly feeling sorry for myself, knowing that when the sun returns tomorrow I will be itching to get out on the trail. I hope our cache of miracles hasn’t been depleted because I’m counting on another one for this wretched knee.
Oh no, the sun is beginning to shine and it’s only early afternoon. I have never NOT been on the move when the sun is shining in Israel. 😒