. Our next activity is a bike ride in the desert, completely different scenery than our first bike ride in the mountains. Its like a vast nothing, but has a lot of little bumps that put my awesome BMX skills to the test. Maybe biking was my calling as I am sure you can imagine I tore it up, or maybe I got in to a wreck and ate it hard…either way it was awesome. The area we were biking in is apart of the silk road that runs from this area through the Middle East to India and then eventually China. This road that you can still hike, bike, or drive along has been used for thousands of years to transport goods around the world. The history in this part of the world is incredible, its so old and makes the US history I love so much seem like yesterday. This bike ride builds our appetite and we stop at a truck stop for what else but Mcdonalds, I just can’t do it. I travel halfway around the world to eat the same crappy burgers I can get in America, oh well this is a free trip and I have no business complaining. Because the next thing I get to do is ride a camel in the desert. Camels are pretty funky looking and not necessarily the most friendly animal. It is very similar to riding a horse and we are linked to each other so as I am riding in the back the camel behind me is very close. So naturally I reach out to pet him on the head and for a few strokes he is fine then as I reach for another I hear a noise and he attempts to bite my hand. Ok no more petting the camel and I stick to leaving my hands on the saddle
. I can’t blame him, if my job was to let people sit on me all day while I walk them in a circle I would not really want them touching me either. Now that my but is sore and the inside of my legs are chaffed its time to move to our next site. We stop at the grave site of the first Prime Minister Ben Gurion in the middle of the desert. He wanted the Israeli people to see the importance of the desert and claim this land so that no one else would come and take it from them. it’s a beautiful peaceful area surrounded by desert mountains. Now that everyone is extremely exhausted we drive up to a city just outside Tel-Aviv, Netanya. This is our last night out together and although we our tired, we dig deep, clean the two days worth of dirt and grime off us, and make the 35 minute bus ride into Tel Aviv. Its about 9:30pm and no clubs or bars are really that happening as I have been told many people don’t go out until midnight here. But to our delightful surprise, the soldiers from our trip have come out to see us again and have a few drinks. We go to a club that is specially opened for our birthright group, which means it is just us. I will have time to immerse myself more in the Israeli culture after the trip, so now I am just happy to be out. What a whirlwind day from waking up in a tent in the desert to going out to a club in the biggest city in Israel, the country maybe small but there is a lot to do and see.
While I really enjoy camping and waking up outdoors to the sun heating up your tent, I did not enjoy our 5:30am wake up from the neighboring camp. A large Israeli teen tour was camping next to us and their counselors used the tactic of extremely loud Israeli music as a way to wake up their kids. And it was not good enough to blare for a few minutes so that everyone heard, it was an ongoing thing until about 8:30am when they decided to turn it down. I thought you go camping to hear the sounds of nature and experience the serenity, not the club thumping hits of Israel. So now I am awake with the rest of my group and everyone feels great after very little very cold sleep, except for me who was toasty warm. We set out on our first hike of the day in the desert overlooking the heart shaped Ramon crater. Again I am a kid at play running around and climbing on rocks in my own little heaven. A girl on the group who does yoga, Jackie, is kind enough to lead in meditation on top of the mountain. It feels amazing to have peace and quiet in my life and my body feels reenergized, which is very necessary for the rest of our day