Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea 12/30/09

We had a lovely day at one of the loveliest parts of our planet, the Ein Gedi nature reserve. Located immediately opposite the Dead Sea, about half way north/south, Ein Gedi is a true oasis. I’m a wimp, so we took only the mostly easy Wadi David Trail. Pictures to be uploaded when I have more time and a better connection.

Ein Gedi has numerous ibexes roaming about who are not very skittish around people (kind of like the cats in Tel Aviv). We also caught a view of some rock hyraxes and many small birds. Terri threw a crumb to the birds while we were sitting there and we were soon completely surrounded by at least two kinds of birds demanding more.

After a snack, we headed for an archaeological dig just a few steps away that has uncovered a marvelous ancient synagogue. You know it’s a synagogue because some of the features included two sunken pits clearly usable as ritual baths (mikvaot), a mosaic floor with an Aramaic inscription acknowledging donors who all have Jewish names, and structures that resemble today’s podium (bimah) with a large stone seat for the congregational dignitary (president-type, most likely). The mosaic floor is remarkably well preserved.

From the synagogue we continued along a path which led us to the highway but degraded continuously as we went until finally it was just a mudway. We had to climb over the barrier onto the highway, but then it was a short walk to the public beach. Terri wanted to put her hands into the Dead Sea, but as we approached the shore, she noted two folks both with bleeding feet (cut on the rocks on the beach) and decided discretion was the better part of valor. So we got close, but did not put any part of our bodies in the water.

We caught the bus back to Arad and arrived with about 5 minutes to spare before the direct-to-Tel Aviv bus was scheduled to leave. Unfortunately, we needed to go back to the hotel to retrieve our backpacks. Fortunately, the bus driver decided to let us in even though he had already left the station when I pounded on the door. Getting that bus cut about 45 minutes off the trip back to Tel Aviv. We arrived at our home away from home about 4 hours after leaving Ein Gedi. We dined at Hurkanus (our local cafe). All in all a successful and very satisfying day!

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