9 is 'ayin, a pharyngeal voiced fricative!
We woke up a lot later on friday than we intended. Eli called and asked if we were taking the 10:30 bus. We weren't both awake till 11:30 we missed the 1:30 bus to Be'er Sheva and caught the 2:20, we missed the 3:30 bus in Be'er Sheva and caught the 4:20. We got to the Ben Gurion Institute for Desert Studies at around 5:30, managing to leave my sleepingbag on the bus.
Eli and Mia were nowhere to be found. We hung out at a building with triangles and pyramids in, and put on sunscreen. Lucky for us we had neither cell phone, nor cell phone number for Eli. Neither did we have Eli.
After asking around for the residence of the new american girl we found Mia's appartment, but not Mia, we left a note.
It was looking more and more like we would be on our own in Be'er Sheva for shabbat.
Wait! what if we were to knock on an appartment door and ask to use the internet! we can look up Eli's number!
so we did,
but Benj didn't have Eli's number in his mail.
not a problem, call a friend, get the number from a friend, use that phone, now call Eli!
What?!? you've already left? but just fifteen minutes ago! we'll be right down.
its remarkable how much more pep in the step when the going includes a plan.
We started down the snake path and hitched a ride to the bottom.
Hot Damn, the negev is breathtaking, I Love That Desert.
Huge elevation differences, Vast expanses of yellow sand, Lots of sun, Lots of hills to climb, Dunes at the foot of mountains that look soft as pillows but are made of rock.
We hiked a bit, found the campsite and set to work finding firewood.
I climbed the nearest highest hill and looked about. I was right where I wanted to be.
we sang a little bit, my niggun and also Rosh Hodesh Sivan, because we had missed it on wednesday.
built a fire with twigs toilet paper and matches.
passed around the food we'd brought, hummus pita beans cheese tomato.
I noticed something moving in the gloom, a small fox had been attracted by our food smells.
we pack up quickly, left our bags away from where we were sleeping, and settled down.
The stars in the desert are the clearest, the night in the desert is cold, the morning in the desert involves dew.
I didn't sleep particularly well, I was too cold, and kept waking up to the russling of the fox trying to get in the backpacks. At one point I lay awake looking at the stars for maybe an hour.
The last time I woke up I could see the outline of dawn, and decided to not try sleeping any longer.
My rising woke benj but not the other two and we climbed the hill I had topped the previous evening.
Davening Shacharit on that hill in that desert with that sunrise was the best davening i've had in a long long time.
We watched the fox trot past along the path, much cuter in the daylight. We finished aleinu in time for the sun to crest the hills and wake Mia and Eli.
It turned out to be the same hike I had done four years ago on Ramah Seminar, up a tall cliff, up a tall mountain on the tall cliff, down the other side. It is amazing how quickly you can change altitude in the Negev.
Coming down the mountain landed us in an oasis. Ein Ekev, a gorgeous swimming hole lush with vegetation in the middle of the arid region. we got there as a small crowd was just leaving and swam about for a half hour till lunch, when we ate and went to camp out durring the hottest hours of the day.
We had beaten the rush, a horde of kids and parents showed up halfway through our siesta. It was hot and noisy, but nice in the shade.
We shared coffee with some other hikers, gathered our things, filled one water bottle, were warned against drinking it, and set out.
I had aquired a nice sunburn about the shoulders.
The way back was glorious. We stopped and sat and talked of gender on the edge of a cliff looking down into a canyon, resting on rocks that looked to be made from melted marshmellow.
We decided to take a trail up rather than the paved serpentine road, and set of near nightfall to the east of the road.
The green trail it turns out does not go up the cliff, rather it goes into a cull desac with some things that look at first glance to be paths, including features such as ladders and ropes, but end rather abruptly in steep and crumbly limestone cliffs.
We walked back to the serpentine trail in the late dusk and made it up under the star light.
That shower was one of the nicest I've ever taken. we forced fluids and salts and ate a wonderful meal, and woke up early to catch the bus back to Jerusalem. Because after all, benj had a NGO to go work for.