Israel, Part 3.

I’m going to cover the Southern part of Israel now, where it was hot. Like 112 Fahrenheit hot. In June. When I went outside, all the fluid on my eyeballs evaporated and my corneas sizzled. It was pretty awful, especially for a rare delicate flower such as m’self, who likes to be in temperature-controlled environments with cable television. I did, however, get this nifty tan from wearing the same style of sandals for the whole trip:


Anyone who’s ever seen me in person knows what a big deal a tan is. I am often mistaken for the Michelin Man, or a portly corpse, or that Pillsbury Dough Boy ghost in Ghostbusters. Squishy and white, that’s my M.O. So a tan is news.

There is a lovely kibbutz/arboretum in the middle of the desert called Ein Gedi. It was founded in the 1950s, so a great deal of the cactuses (that’s what they specialize in) are over fifty years old. They also have baobab trees (literary reference: The Little Prince).


I learned that baobab trees have weird fuzzy fist-sized pods hanging from their branches and that cream of tartar (a thickening agent used in meringues) comes from these pods.


They also had art there. I am a big supporter of art, but this big question mark made of stone…


… looked like a big curly turd. Anyone else see that? Anyone? Big poo? Anyone?

Right near Ein Gedi is the Dead Sea, also known as the lowest point on earth. I’d been a number of times, but Cricket needed to experience this, so we went. And it ended up being one of the worst experiences of my life. Allow me to explain.

The Dead Sea is a giant crack in the middle of mountains. When it rains at the top of the mountains, the water runs into the crack with all the minerals it has collected on the way. Once the water and minerals are in the crack, the water evaporates and you’re left with a great deal of crunchy minerals, mainly salt. The water that’s left in the Dead Sea is so salinated, if you drink a small glassful, you die. The other cool thing about the Dead Sea is that you float almost right on the surface. Cricket will now demonstrate.


Here is a picture of the shore with the salt crystals.


Not only does the Dead Sea have salt, it also has hot springs and mud that is supposed to be healthy. Cricket and I went over to the mud section, which is just a place in the middle of the desert with mud in large troughs. One thing I found strange was that they had pipes spewing out water, but also showers with a little chain that you pulled. I didn’t understand why they had both. I learned later. Picture of pipes spewing:


Cricket and I wandered over to the troughs and slathered ourselves with mud:


Mmm, mmm, don’t we look so pretty? Anyway, we then baked in the sun until we were dry and I walked over to the big pipes to wash myself off. I just stepped right under them. And then I learned the difference. The water coming out of the showers was fresh water. The water coming out of the pipes was HOT SULFURIC SALTY SPRING WATER. It tasted like someone had left some hard-boiled eggs in the sun for a week, then brewed a nice steaming cup of tea with it, put some salt in it, and then threw it in my face. I started shrieking for Cricket to bring me a towel. Then I wiped my eyes and zipped over to the fresh water shower and yanked that chain like sixty times trying to get the rotten-egg taste and smell off of me. Which I couldn’t. Apparently the sulfur stays in your hair follicles, so every so often I would catch a whiff of my hair and it would take me right back. I took a photo of the list of ingredients of the spring water so that you can appreciate how much it sucked (a lot).


After five days in the desert, we went to the Southernmost part of Israel, Eilat. It’s on the Red Sea. The Red Sea has lots and lots of beautiful tropical fish, including one my favorites. I think it’s called the Pearl Boxfish, I’m not sure, but it looks like this:


Isn’t he lovely? Here he is from another angle.


I went snorkeling for the first time and it was wonderful. I love fishies and there were many of them and they were nifty.

One of the days that we were in Eilat we went to Petra. Petra is in Jordan, so we had to do the whole Visa thing with the sitting around waiting to get stamped thing. No one knows how old Petra is, but we’re thinking real old, like Old Testament old. It’s a necropolis, or City of the Dead, or Big Fancy Cemetery. You walk for a third of a mile through this little corridor through the sandstone.


And the sandstone is all different shapes and colors. I think if Walt Disney saw he would say, “No, looks a little too fake”.


So you’re walking through this crevasse, walking walking walking, and then you start to see something:


And then a little more:


And then- Blam! You are faced with a giant ornate Greek-looking building that is totally out of place. It’s called The Treasury. The more important you were, the fancier your tomb was, so this guy who was buried here must have been very important.


See those little divots carved on either side of the facade? Because sandstone is so crumbly, they carved from the top down so as not to touch what they just carved, but sometimes you need a little additional carving so the little divots are steps for carvers to climb up and do changes to the top without touching the front. Very interesting.

There were a few other tombs, some for important people, some clearly for Bob the Stinky Homeless Bedouin (just a niche in the rock, no ornate nuthin’) but the Treasury is really the piece de resistance.

That’s my trip to Israel in a nutshell. If you have any questions or want to see any more pictures, I have 475 pictures that I would be happy to share with you.

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