Trip Start Nov 13, 2006
Trip End Oct 21, 2008

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Francine called me at 6am to check I was up for the early coach that was picking us up from the MKSH. I was going on a 2 day trip to Massada and the dead sea (organised for interns by the jewish agency.) She had insisted I borrow her friends battery charger rather than risk borrowing the camera from my long haired South African neighbour who had apparently recently bitten someone after breaking a broomstick over their head. (Unfortunately the deal was done and I had the camera in my bag!)

I got a coffee and pan au chocolat at the pick up point in Tel Aviv and the lady who worked there spent about 20 minuted telling me why I shouldn't live in Israel. We picked up more interns from Jerusalem, headed east for the Jordan Valley and then south to the Dead Sea.
Dead sea from the coach
The road was pretty much empty as we drove through the desert, and just like my previous trip north in the Jordan Valley, patches of green sprung up sporadically in the sand. Our activity for the day was a hike through the Judean desert - the area east of the Dead Sea. It was an easy hike along a beautiful clear stream with water falls and areas which on a slightly hotter day would have been great swimming. Our Israeli tour guide gave a very creative presentation on the geography of Israel by sticking landmarks on Shaina's body. She also explained how the stream was an outlet from the aquifer - rain water that collects under the mountains and then flows to the sea through weakpoints in the rock.  
aquifer riverjudean hike
Next was the dead sea - called the dead sea because its so salty that nothing (except algie) can live there. It's also shrinking due to overuse and abuse of the Jordan river which feeds it. The weather was warm but the sea was definitely nippy. I spent about 10 minutes visualising how nice it would be to be submerged before finally holding my breath and taking a plunge.  Ouch! Not only was it cold but I discovered the hard way that it stings if it gets in your face. (I must have looked like a gay Borat pansying about) We all floated about for a bit and took lots of pictures before heading back onto the coach.
We were staying at the Massada guest house. A nice enough place which put on a Friday night meal - that means that someone (not a woman) says hebrew blessings over wine and halla (jewish bread) while everyone stands around daydreaming before saying 'amen'. the meal was the typical Israeli style buffet I am getting accustomed to at all the conferences I've been going to - meats, veg, and lots of nice salad - hummous, tahina, beetroot, coleslaw, eggplant, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, etc.

After dinner was a getting to know you type activity session. It was good fun, the interns are  a good bunch from all round the world, and coming from the land of fat ankles,  I wasn't disapointed to see there were lots of pretty girls. Later on I played backgammon (known as sheeshbesh -6/5 - in some arabic countries) and hypnotised Carolina before going to bed.
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