Thursday morning began our tiyul throughout the Negev which would end next week on kibbutz. So Thursday despite hail and a minute of snow falling we started the drive down to Ein Gedi for hiking. However when we got there, our staff told us that do to flash floods and unstable ground warnings we would not be hiking but had the option to either hike Masada or go to the Ein Gedi spa and I chose the latter. I chose not go into the sea because it was cold and I had cuts, but it was relaxing and I got some reading and napping done. When we were done we headed to the Bedouin tents but on the way we saw something that you do not see every day in Israel; roads being covered but loads of water and the rivers gushing with water. We were also told that with all this rain Israel has had lately some of the places we walked on dessert survival were covered with water. When we arrived at the tents we put our stuff down and then took camel and donkey rides which was a lot of fun despite my legs hurting the next day. We then enjoyed the traditional Bedouin hospitality drinking coffee and tea and learning about the Bedouin lifestyle which is very interesting. Afterwards we enjoyed a delicious dinner with rice, meatballs, salads, pita and more. Since it was cold and we were also very tired we layered up, had a nice bonfire and then headed to bed early to the sound of rain. On a side note, this was probably one of the best ways to spend my birthday.
Friday morning after a very restful night we woke up to a rainbow which you do not see every day in southern Israel. After tiffilot and a great breakfast, despite the heavy rain we started on our way. Throughout this tiyul we got to choose which hike we wanted to do as well as some of the other activities, so I chose to go to the colored sands in the Machtesh Ha-gadol. When we got there it was quite cold and due to the rain it was more like colored mud then sand but it was still beautiful. It was then onto Kibbutz Ketura where we were staying for Shabbat and Sunday. After we got ready for Shabbat we took a tour of the kibbutz and learned a bit about Ketura. Kibbutz Ketura is one of the few kibbutzim left that are not privatized as well one of the only kibbutzim which does not have a religious affiliation which was interesting to see. Afterwards we had tiffilot, a delicious dinner and a tisch before heading to bed early.
Shabbat morning after tiffilot which were the usual and before lunch we has 3 different options of activities and I chose "Kibbutz Values in Practice". Throughout this activity we learned about the democratic governing system at Ketura and then split into groups and got a case that was brought before the Kibbutz council and had to come up with an answer about what we would do in the situation. Throughout this session and the tour the previous day it made me really think about Kibbutzim and their values and beliefs. After lunch, rest time and the conclusion of Shabbat we had 2 choices of evening activities and I went to one of the neighboring Kibbutz’s, Kibbutz Lotan to participate in some holistic exercises. Over the course of the evening we learned Shiatsu and a form of Tai Chi. It was a very relaxing evening and I learned some techniques that I might be able to use in the future.
Sunday instead of taking a hike in the mountains behind the Kibbutz, I chose to participate in a Desert Art Workshop looking at poetry. We started by looking at various poets and their poems and the various styles that they used. Then we had time to sit where ever we wanted to around the kibbutz and write. If you would like to see my poem, contact me. After the other art groups presented and we had lunch we had free time before heading to have some of the most fun we have had on Nativ. After a 10 minute hike we arrived at the Kasui Sand Dunes where for the afternoon we frolicked and rolled around in the dunes which had the softest sand I've ever felt. When we got back to the kibbutz we had more free time before enjoying a great BBQ dinner. That evening/early morning we had the option at 1:30 AM to watch the Superbowl but I decided to get sleep.
Monday morning we left Ketura, and I chose to go to Park Timna. Timna used to be a site that the Egyptians and Midianites mined copper at many years ago. We started off with a short movie about Timna and then started our drive through the park. We saw most of it from the bus but we did get off at one point at walked around for a bit and even walked through some of the ancient mining shafts which was cool. In the afternoon we headed to Eilat and were supposed to go on a boat ride but due to a possible storm that was brewing in the sea it got canceled but we got other options and I chose to go to Kings City which is a biblical amusement park. It is a very small with only 4 'rides' but it was still a fun afternoon. When we got back to the hotel we got our rooms and then got money to get dinner on our own. Josh, Becca and I went to Big Apple Pizza which was quite delicious and then walked around the boardwalk for a bit before heading to bed early.
Tuesday was our last true day of tiyul and we started the morning with hikes and I chose a hike through the Red Canyon. It was great to finally be hiking after the previous days of not really hiking. The hike was pretty easy with a few hard parts; as well the scenery was great and the weather was perfect for hiking. After going back to the hotel to change and rest we went to the Haleluyah restaurant for lunch and we were supposed to head to the beach for some optional water activities but it got cancelled due to the winds again. So instead we just hung out with each other before dinner at the hotel. After dinner we had the night off so I went back to the boardwalk and mall to do some last minute shopping before heading back to the hotel to pack and get a good night of sleep.
Wednesday was a day that I could not believe had finally arrived-it was the day we were moving to kibbutz. After saying goodbye to all my friends heading to Yerchaum we started our drive with a stop in Be'er Sheva for a mumps booster shot due to the recent outbreak. When we arrived at kibbutz we unpacked and had dinner which was very good which was a sign that hopefully all our other meals would as be just as great, before heading to bed early.