For the second night we stayed in the town of Arad about 50 K. from the Dead Sea in a one bedroom apartment. The next morning we drove to Be’er Sheva in the middle of the Sinai Desert. Both the Sinai and the Negev, which border each other in southern Israel, are much more arid than the desert around Grand Junction. The higher portions of the desert have some vegitation.
We had a female soldier guide us through the Israeli Air Force Museum which had about 150 planes/helicopters on display dating from before the War of Independence in 1948 until the present. We sat in the plane (in the actual seats!) in which Menachem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat sat in at the time of the peace accords in 1979. We watched a brief film about the history of the airforce from inside the 707 that carried the hostages from Entebbe, Uganda, back to Israel after the successful rescue by Israeli forces.
From there we moved on to the Bedouin Museum north of Be’er Sheva. The Bedouins have been wandering in the desert for centuries. The museum explained the culture and practices of the Bedouins and how they are being moved from tents to concrete houses by the government. Despite the changes, the landscape is dotted with Bedoin tents and flocks of camels, goats and sheep.
From there we drove back to Tel Aviv, which is a fairly large cosmopolitan city and to the hostel that we had stayed at last week. We renewed our lease of the vehicle and began the hunt for a parking space. We parked in the street next to the hostel and met Roberta Yares (Ed’s brother’s ex-wife’s sister) for dinner and talk. Upon returning to the car we were awarded with a parking ticket (100 Shekels – $25) and put the car in a lot until the next morning.
Please send reinforcements…ha
The Peace Plane
The next morning we checked out of the hostel and wrestled with the what to do with the car. Decided to drive north about 50 K. to Caesaria, a Roman city built by King Herod in the first century. It was not so easy finding our way out of town on the crowded Tel Aviv roads and traffic. Caesaria is a large site with little of the originall buildings except the foundations remaining. Exceptions are the theater and the chariot racing/gladiator fighting area. It sits right on the Mediteranean Sea in a beautiful spot.
We returned to Tel Aviv late in the afternoon and hooked up with fellow Warmshowers host Melanie. She lives in a poor section of Tel Aviv where parking was not a problem. Not many people there can afford autos. Melanie made dinner and told us of her extensive travels as an international journalist. She recently returned from a trip to Nepal to cover the damage from the earthquakes. Since it was Friday, we had less trouble finding parking as it does not appear that the authorities enforce parking regulations. In Israel, the weekend consists of Friday and Saturday with school, work, shopping, etc. resuming on Sunday. Before leaving we contacted a very close friend of a friend who lives in Haifa. Eli and Yael invited us to stay with them and have Shabbat dinner that night. What a good feeling to connect with such kind people.
We detoured on our way out of Tel Aviv and spent about 4 hours wandering around the ancient Roman port of Jaffa. In a small shop we met the shop owner and a friend of his who were taking bets on which country we were from. The shop owner guessed Germany while his friend, Ronni, guessed correctly. We continued our conversation with Ronni for more than an hour over coffee before she gave us a guided tour of the area. She is a licensed guide, but would not take any money form us.
At 3 pm we left Tel Aviv and again drove north 100 K. to Haifa. We connected with Eli Levy who escorted us to his home for Shabbat dinner with his family, mother and his in-laws. He and his wife Yael have 6 children three of which still live at home and go to school. Everyone comes home Fri night for Shabbat dinner and celebration. It was a heatwarming expperience to see the genuine love and affection all around. Most of them are of a liberal bent and despise Netanyahu, except for Yael’s father who at 84 is sharp as a tack and a confirmed conservative.