I have to admit the knee is in a bad way, but there was nothing for it but to walk out of the wadi ( about 7 km) and head for a road to Arad. Surprising what you can do when there is no alternative. We climbed boulders, ascended gradually up narrow trails only to find ourselves back in the wadi, confronted with piles of rock, or skirting deep pools of water. The weather was cool and overcast, which was actually a blessing. The sun came out as we were reaching the final ascent out of the wadi. We met a small group of day hikers who suggested getting to the top and following the transmission lines to a road where we might be lucky enough to catch a ride.
I had said, when we left Sapir, that I wanted to walk out if the desert into Arad . I got my wish. On reaching the mountain top, we kind of stumbled through several Bedouin camps with their tin and tarry looking papered shacks, mangy half feral dogs, and roaming kids. The views were spectacular but the ground so rough and full of sharp rock. It seemed an unpleasant surface to live on! I’ve learned since that the Bedouin men can have several wives, that they get government welfare to support their nomadic lifestyle, but the kids are expected to go to school, especially the boys. They speak Arabic and have their own school s scattered about the settlements. After crossing through their property ( though who’s to know the boundaries?) we came to the road. A green trail sign! This was the shortcut given in the trail guide.
But on a sore knee, this was no shortcut. We ate our last cans of tuna just before making the descent into Arad. It was a slow and painful walk. And no cars except for ones driven by shifty looking characters – sorry for seeming guilty of racial profiling, but I did not see anyone who changed my impression of Bedouins. Perhaps this is the persona they choose to put forward??
We walked into Arad and when we realized that Arad was much larger than we anticipated and that the simple directions to the youth hostel were hopelessly wrong, we were delivered once again. Arlene has a knack for stopping just the right cars. ( there were very few, this being Shabbat ) a young couple immediately took us into the car, drove us around to look for camp fuel, took us to the hostel, which was full. So they found us another spot- a guest house called the Desert Bird, run by another Israeli angel. A lovely big house, four bedrooms upstairs, large kitchen downstairs and huge sitting room with fireplace, pool table, a yard full of flowers and hammocks. Idyllic really and she charges only 100 shekels per person ( around 35-40).
When we arrived, four families who had met up in Arad for the weekend were just finishing their gathering with a bbq . We were invited to join this eclectic group of people and nine kids, so we ate and chatted and ate some more. The day before when it had been so hot I had told Arlene I felt like an ice cold Coke (something I have not had in probably 30 years) and she agreed but it had to be diet. And lo and behold, did they not offer her cold Diet Coke?? This is what I mean about the little things that make us feel protected and cared for.
That said, there has been no miracle for my knee, which has decided to quit. I can’t put any weight on it at all and have to drag myself upstairs. But how lovely to be fed and showered, clothes washed etc… Michaela took me to a medical clinic and for 130$ I got a diagnosis of tendinitis and given a prescription for anti inflammatory pills ( though I was warned a side effect was sudden heart attack or stroke) rest and ice. How inopportune. I never have had knee trouble and would have thought if I was prone to it, it would have happened back in those early mountain climbs near Eilat.
We will have to come up with a plan and see how the knee recovers. Fortunately the weather has turned cold and rainy so we are content to stay put here for at least a couple more days, but after that? Hard to say. Stay tuned.
There are angels among us. I have been reminded that I too can be an angel,that I can go out of my way for others, that compassion helps keep the world in check.
PS I have a lot of pictures I want to post but have to figure out how to get more than one feature picture up per blog.
Shalom for now.