Wednesday, 31 January 2007
Today we headed out on a 2 day field trip to the desert. We couldn’t get government clearance to go to Egypt and Mt. Sinai, so we’re going to experience the wandering in the desert in the Negev of Israel. We’re going to head all the way down to the southern most tip of Israel to the town of Eilat, located right on the Red Sea. Our first stop was a visit to the ancient city of Beer Sheva. This is was the southern extent of the promised land and it was here that Abraham swore his famous oath (Beer Sheva means the “Well of the Oath”. It was neat to think of what happened here and I took a picture of the famous well, but in the end it looked pretty much like all the other ruins we’ve seen.
From Beer Sheva we moved on to a site that didn’t really have any biblical connection but was nonetheless very pretty. In the middle of the desert there is a spring called En Avedat. It actually becomes a little river and we got to hike along it for a while. Eventually we came to a waterfall and the source of the water. The bleak desert cliffs towering on both sides of the canon made for some very beautiful scenery.
After a needed lunch break we visited the ruins of the city of Avdat. This is located high on a hill overlooking the valley. An ancient people known as the Naboteans built this city. They created a famous spice trail through the desert by strategically hiding water cisterns at set intervals. No one else knew where to find the water, so they controlled the trade route. Eventually some Byzantine monks built a church on top and it was there that we had Mass.
We were now well into the middle of the desert. Our next stop was our hotel for the night. This turned out to be the nicest place we’ve stayed. We had a pool for the first time, so most people took the opportunity to do some swimming. After a wonderful dinner I curled up with a book next to the real wood-burning fireplace in the lobby. It was actually set up so that the fireplace was in the middle of a seating area with cushions all around. It was a wonderful place to stay, even if only for a night.