Return to Ein Gedi

Posted: December 11, 2006 in Israel, jerusalem

We tried to get up early to catch the bus to Eilat, but basically missed it by a mere few minutes, so we decided to catch the next bus to Ein Gedi, spend the day there, then catch the last bus to Eilat and find a place to stay for the night. Rafa really wanted to go back to Ein Gedi and I wasn’t too jazzed about going, since I didn’t think there was much to do there, but I’m glad we did.

The plan was to go swimming in the Dead Sea, then go check out Nahal David or David’s Spring. This is the spring that David hid from Saul in when Saul was trying to kill him. We caught the bus and after about an hour or so, were back in the Dead Sea region. I hit the button for the driver to stop at the first Ein Gedi stop and as he did so I got up and looked back to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I guess I took too much time in turning my head because the driver hit the gas and took off, causing me to fall back into my seat. Rafa and I looked at each other like “What the hell?”. The driver then blew through the next stop and then finally stopped at the third one. I was annoyed and so was Rafa.

We got off the bus to find ourselves at some Dead Sea spa with lots of rich old snooty people that looked through us instead of at us. They were all getting onto a tour bus and Rafa wanted to ask the driver if they were going back towards the beach, but before he could get a single word out the driver waved him off. I was pissed already and didn’t want to ask for a ride and was already heading down the road for the 2 mile walk. Rafa then wanted to hitchhike but I said “No way, I don’t want a ride from these snooty bastards. Eff them, I’ll walk”. It was hot but I didn’t care. We walked along the desert highway and finally reached the beach.

We got changed and went down shoreside. It was rocky, not sandy, and hurt when you walked on it. What was worse though was when you stepped into the water and wade in to about knee high depth, the water being so dense actually moves you more so than normal water, so you are thrown off balance and stepping on sharp rocks trying to regain it. Being that the water is 33% mineral and salt it’s thicker than normal water, in fact it feels like baby oil. And the ripples don’t look like normal ripples, they look kind of alien or like computer generated. When you finally get about waist deep, you start to float and either you fall over and struggle trying to adjust to this new experience or you just lay back and roll with it. Because the water is so dense you literally float at or close to the surface, like a piece of wood or paper. You can lay flat and stiff as a board and you will still float. There is, however, a drawback to swimming in this water. If you have a cut or a rash anywhere on your body, you’re literally putting salt in your wound so it stings like a mother! Additionally you can drink the water or let it get in your eyes because it will burn your eyes and throat and possibly make you wretch. However it is pretty neat to float so buoyantly. I joked to Rafa that being the lifeguard here must be the most boring job ever, being that it seems impossible to drown here.

When we were done with the beach we rinsed off and made our way up to Nahal David. The only sign of a spring in the middle of this desert mountain range are a few palm trees by the road. As we walked up to the entrance we saw an Ibex a mere 40 or 50 feet from us. An Ibex is like a mountain goat with these long horns that arc back towards it’s back. It’s a majestic animal to see. We pay the park entrance fee and start the hike up the hill. As we go up the trail we notice in the trees some kind of desert rodent about the size of a cat. Kind of like a big fat squirrel without the tail. They are in the trees and on the ground. There’s a whole bunch of them scurrying around. As we continue to follow the path up the side of hte mountain, we turn a corner past a boulder and to our surprise find a pool of turquoise water being fed by a small waterfall, surrounded by lush green plants, in stark contrast to the dry desert terrain around it. we continue down the path and find more pools with waterfalls. We continue on up the path and find a larger pool with a 10 foot waterfall above it. We climb down off the path and go in the water. We had to climb down past this boulder that was partially concealing it, and the bottom of the boulder was either cut or eroded so as to allow one to duck down and pass underneath it and get to the pool. The water was cool and refreshing, feeling great on the skin. The waterfall felt great too. Here and at Ein Gedi beach were the only places I exposed my tattoos my whole trip, and I noticed a few looks from people at the beach.

While in the pool we noticed an Ibex sitting in the sahde of a boulder not 20 feet away. After getting dried off I climbed up the other side of the boulder to try and get good photo of it. I managed to get pretty close but I did hold back so as to not cause the animal to charge. We continued up the hill finidng more small falls until we came out into a larger crevice cut by a waterfall about 50-60 feet high. It’s cascading water fell into a large pool at the bottom where we were and what was really interesting was that 2/3rd’s the way up there was a large cave partially obscured by the falling water. I only noticed it because of the angle the sun was hitting it.

This spring was like a hidden oasis out here. You have no clue this is here from the highway below. We enjoyed the beauty of our surroundings a little longer and began the trek back down to catch the last bus Eilat. Eilat is still a few hours south so it’s not until about 10PM that we arrive.

The second we step off the bus we are assaulted by people with rooms to rent and this one crazy lady fully gets in our faces insistent we go to her house, causing a scene and ends up freaking Rafa out. We just jumped into a taxi to get away from her, and told the cabbie we wanted to go to the border to cross into Jordan. Unfortunately the border is closed already so we find the Shelter Hostel. The Shelter Hostel is cool in that it’s run by a Christian family and is open to travellers, pilgrims and I believe they give the homeless a place to sleep as well, and it’s not affiliated with any organization or church. It’s just a family doing what they feel God has called them to do.

There we met a guy from Southern California named Josh who has been in Israel for a month or so, basically doing the extended version of what we are doing. After talking to him and to some of the other guests and the family that runs the hostel I got this unusual feeling that I’ll attempt to put into words. Here we were, two Christian “Pilgrims” in the southern tip of Israel between Egypt and Jordan, where although our faith was born in this land, it is a great minority, particularly in the places not affiliated with the faith. We just so happen to stumble upon a place for travellers like us and meet other travellers doing the same thing we are doing, doing a spiritual journey. It just made me think that this is how it could have been in the old days, like the first century when the faith was spreading by people travelling, word of mouth etc., and it makes you feel like your’e a part of something much bigger than yourself. The image that keeps coming to mind is a grapevine growing slowly in the desert.

View today’s photos

Video of Rafa in the Dead Sea

Video of Nahal David by the Dead Sea

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