Last weekend we spent two days hiking in the Negev… though it was a bit of a marathon, and the soundtrack of our travels became the echo of the tour guide shouting “Mayim!,”¹ I found it to be an enjoyable journey.
We followed several trails and hiked 6 hours the first day, ending up at a Bedouin camp… there we rested our sore legs and nourished our bodies with 3 pots of Poyke. The following morning I was awake at 5:00, and cooking eggs for everyone by 6:00. We departed the camp around 7:30 and continued hiking for about 8 hours, then took a nice rest at a spring in the middle of the desert. I found the water gloriously refreshing and surprisingly cold for it’s location and the temperature outside.
During our hike we learned about the raptor echo system that existed in the Negev… sadly, however, we did not see any of the suspects mentioned in the carnivorous lineup. Despite this, it was really interesting for me to learn about how many birds roamed the desert we were wandering in, for at first glance it seemed so desolate.
This trip was not lacking in continuity, sharing one common theme the rest of my travels in Israel have had: unexpected and wonderful. Before I left to embark on my year-long stay in Israel, people would get confused when I’d talk about my excitement. “Isn’t it just one big desert there?” was the usual response. Unless someone had actually been, they seemed ignorantly unaware of the magic that was this beautiful place.
As we continued our hike towards the rendezvous point, where a bus would find us on the side of the road, my thoughts kept circling back to how many secret oases this desert held. Similar to the streets of Old Yafo or the alleyways in Jerusalem, at any moment you could stumble on a hidden treasure. Just when we thought we had reached the dryest of cracked ground, there would be some canyon with fresh, beautiful, cool water.
We hiked for another hour or so, stopping a couple of times to consume “mayim” at the orders of our guide (he was very militant about water consumption, warning us that he didn’t want to be dragging any passed out participants back to the bus).
By the time we reached the bus my legs and feet were sore, but the rest of me was energized. I am looking forward to see where we end up next.
1. “Mayim” (transliteration), “מים”, water.