Israel is a place of surprising contrasts. Let’s take the desert, called the Negev. As we drove south from Jerusalem, compared to our last trip in that region 8 years ago, much more of it had been transformed into agricultural fields of wheat, vineyards, and groves of fruit and olive trees.
Along with the agriculture, new settlements of students who go to university in the desert are supported and then decide to make their lives there. This program, the Ayalim Foundation, is run, in part, by our new cousin-in-law, Yonatan Glicksberg, who this week, married our niece, Orianne Partem, an up-and-coming Israeli actress. The Greenfield family came from 3 continents to celebrate the event.
Adventures: We stayed at Kibbutz Meshabei Sade, just twenty minutes down the road from the kibbutz and winery where the wedding would take place. One hour away was the largest erosion crater in the world, called the Maktesh–Israel’s equivalent to the US Grand Canyon.
The night before the wedding, we drove deep into the canyon for a bonfire, late night barbecue and star gazing with the aid of a very powerful telescope. Grilled kebab and moon craters and Saturn with at least one of its planets, made the night surreal. The darkness surrounded by the steep canyon walls created a setting inspiring deep thoughts and intimate conversation sitting on the ground Bedouin style.
Misadventures: The day before the wedding, we woke up to a torrential downpour. Never does it rain in the desert this late in the year! Umbrellas over our heads, we ran to the Cheder Ohel (communal dining room) splashing in the puddles creating mud paintings on our legs. We worried that the weather would ruin tomorrow’s wedding.
But happily it didn’t. The sun came out shortly and the puddles began to dry up, so we planned a trip to another “crater” to hike. Cars in caravan, we headed down the road. Surprisingly, a flooded road was encountered, but passable, that is, if you stayed in the middle of the road and went slowly through the “puddle.”
Cautiously our car drove through the “unexpected river,” No problem. The next driver, also driving cautiously, decided to go around the side of the puddle to avoid the water, only to find himself stuck in the mud. Deep in the mud. So deep that the wheels just spun deeper and deeper until the car could not move. Oh, the dismay and embarrassment of the car’s driver! (Look closely though dirty windshield to see dismayed driver.)
We needed a tow. Triple A was not an option. But in true Israeli style, as we were waiting for help that the other car went to summon, a small pick up truck with two men stopped. Rigging up some straps, they pulled the car from behind. Slowly, slowly it moved as we cheered. It was released from its muddy prison. On to another adventure of hiking and incredible scenery.
Now we could laugh how only we could get stuck in the only mud puddle in in the middle of the desert in Israel! Halevi!