Three Deserts, Two Nights, One Masa Lily Lerner

By: 
Maase Olam

Three Deserts, Two Nights, One Masa  Lily Lerner

Last week our group of teaching fellows traveled to the south of Israel for our first trip, or “tiyul” in Hebrew. We boarded the bus bright and early Monday morning and began our journey. Along with the fellows, a wonderful tour guide named Yinon, a bus driver named Joshua, and a medic named Dori joined our trip. Our madrich Nati accompanied us for the first day of the tiyul.

Our first destination was the beautiful nature reserve Ein Gedi in the Negev Desert. At Ein Gedi our tour guide lead us through the reserve for a short hike and we visited many picturesque waterfalls. Some of our fellows drank from the Fountain of Love and we even saw some of the ibex that live on the reserve. After we finished at Ein Gedi we continued on to the Dead Sea. We drove through the Judea Desert with sand dunes and mountains surrounding us. We continued down into the crater- one of very few found on our Earth. As we looked out the windows of the bus we gazed upon vacant land for miles. Finally arriving at the Dead Sea, everyone was excited to spend some quality time at the beach after a long day of traveling. For a few of our fellows it was their first experience floating in the salty waters of the sea. We scrubbed ourselves in the salt from the sea floor making our skin silky smooth… until the salt dried and made it sticky. After some time at the beach we packed up and headed to the small city of Arad. We enjoyed dinner at the charming youth hostel that we stayed at for the night. The next morning we ate a quick breakfast, packed our lunches and were off to our next destination!

On the second day we left Arad and made our way to Kibbutz Ketura. Here we met up with the father of one of our fellows, who is faculty and a researcher at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. He taught us about the institute and showed us around the kibbutz. We walked all the way to the boarder between Israel and Jordan passing through melon fields imagining the sweet juices in our desert-deprived mouths. Upon arrival to the boarder we discussed the positive relationship between the two countries yet many of our fellows questioned what might happen if they crossed the border. Upon council from our tour guide, we discovered that crossing the border would be in our best interest. After our time at Ketura we ate lunch and lots of tasty ice cream at a nearby stop known for their dairy products.

After lunch we traveled to the Eilat Mountain Desert. Here we became rock climbers and indulged in a sweet snack. After the hike, before we boarded the bus we had a short meditation period in the desert lead by our tour guide. Then we boarded the bus and drove to Eilat for the night. We checked in at a youth hostel and enjoyed a lovely dinner before going out to explore the nightlife of Eilat.

On the third day we left for the bird sanctuary in Eilat near the border of Israel and Jordan. We learned all about birds’ migration patterns and their reliance on the city of Eilat. Eilat provides rest and refuel for birds heading towards and from Africa. Many of the fellows were able to release some of the birds that had tagged or healed at the bird sanctuary.

Next came Timna Park where we learned about the copper mines, hiked, and climbed more rocks. Our final destination was the oasis at Timna Park where we ate lunch and enjoyed the views of the lake. We filled small bottles with colorful sand from the park before starting on our long journey back home. The fellows visited places that were new to some and familiar to others, experiencing these places with different perspectives amongst new people. 

 

Lily is a Fellow of Ma'ase Olam's Masa Israel Teaching Fellow program. For more information about her experience and the program email maaseolam@gmail.com.