Before we got our mystery WiFi (turns out our driver figured out how to set up a hot spot on our bus…Israelis are very ingenious) – we headed out of Jerusalem for Eilat, this time directly south instead of toward the east coast. The way is a little longer (about 5 hours instead of 3 1/2), but much more interesting. Drove through different check points through the West Bank heading around Bethlehem onto Rt. 60 toward Hevron and then Be’er Sheva. We passed the site of David’s slaying of Goliath. Stones litter the ground there as people driving by often throw symbolic stones toward Goliath’s grave.
The desert is a full half of Israel’s land mass…and is also starting to recede. The guess why is that because using diverted Galilee water to irrigate, and the more efficient desalinization process (producing cheaper irrigation water) is creating a new micro-climate in the area.
Stopped for lunch at little rest stop just before leaving the Negev for the Arava desert. We shared our tables with some Israeli Army regulars and reserves. It’s interesting that the Israeli Air Force (we see fighter jets maneuvering deafeningly nearby) is having trouble finding places to train since the country is so small.
Finally arrive in Eilat late in the afternoon. The view from our room looks north and east toward Aqaba in Jordan. We had passed the Eilat airport (Ben Gurion) and the Aqaba airport (King Hussein) almost touching each other. Combining them into one has been discussed.
We take a walk along the port’s promenade to check out restaurants and pass the usual honky-tonk of beach-front resorts. We stick our toes in the Red Sea to say we have. The beaches are gravelly and not very inviting. Hard to beat US east and west coast beaches.
We watch the sun set over Egypt, only a couple of miles away wondering how something looking so beautiful and peaceful can be in turmoil just beyond our view. Tomorrow a 5 am wake up to be able to spend the full day in spectacular Petra.