Day 6: History and the End of the World
Trip Start May 19, 2009
30Trip End Jun 16, 2009
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An hour later, we arrived. Luckily, it's in hilly terrain, so it was comparatively cooler. We met our guide Mahmoud and headed into history... The ancient residents lived in caves, which dot the hills.
And then, in an instant, the Treasury appears through the giant vertical crack ahead. Its scale, like that of the Siq, is hard to describe. It's alive with activity: tourists, of course, and souvenir stands, and donkey and camel ride hawkers. Alas, the building is empty. Tearing ourselves away, we headed along the path past all the other sites mentioned, admiring the scale and colors and logistics of the whole thing
At the end, we elected to make the climb high up the mountain (we were told it was 950 steps, but I counted 770 very exhausting, often treacherous steps) to the so-called Monastery (apparently, a number of famous sites are actually misnomers). Again, it was a stunning site to behold, also on a massive scale, also cut into the mountain face. There we had a quick bite, and pushed on yet further to one of several viewpoints even higher up. The one we chose was called "The End of the World," and it afforded a stunning view of the mountain range we were in, and the Arava Valley below, beyond which lay Israel. To our side were several other spots, some higher, affording views, and a few mountains away, one was topped by what is said to be (Biblical) Aaron's tomb.
But just next to us was...a gift shop, of course. We bought some things at the End of the World, and headed back down, past a dozen or more Bedouin women vendors, each with her own set of jewelry and wares, each with a come-on as you either hiked up or headed down. It was mind-blowing to think that they come on such a grueling journey each day, never mind climbing hundreds of steps (not all of them smooth or evenly hewn) with all their inventory. We succumbed to Sara, the very first vendor who approached us (step 135, was it?) to "make [her] day" on the way up, and who remembered us well on the way down
Lunch in the shade then a long walk back all the way through the city and the long, winding Siq. A breezy, sleepy, hot cab ride for 1.5 hours, and we were back at the border crossing. X-rays, paperwork, no-man's-land, more x-rays, money changing, and a bumpy ride back to our hotel. A nice open-air dinner, and blogging while watching "Israel Idol" (auditions), and here we are. Tomorrow: rental car and a long drive through the desert to Ein Gedi, a kibbutz guest house on the Dead Sea. I am hoping my scratches will heal enough before taking a dip in the salty water on Tuesday.