Monday, June 13, 2011

On the road to nowhere

2 minutes before sinking in the sand
The car made a bizarre "woosh" sound and stopped. We were stuck. All the attempts to step on the gas pedal resulted in sinking deeper in the sand, and raising clouds of dust. The temperature outside was hitting 40 centigrade. After frantic digging in the scorching sand, we had to admit: we're going nowhere. Were we to 
spend the rest of Shavuot Holiday stranded a few meters from the Jordanian border?

It all began when we decided that we don't want to spend Shavuot holiday at home when our eldest daughter is away in Paris with her grandma. We wanted the younger kids not to be too jealous and have fun while their sister will ride rollercoasters in Euro Disney. Though Israeli summer is already here and the heat is on we decided we'll head south to the desert. I've already confessed here my affection and deep connection to the wilderness so it seemed natural to me, instead of Paris, The Arava region.
Lovely view of the desert and ibexes

We booked a guest room in Moshav Hatzeva. Hatzeva is an agricultural community not far from the Jordanian border. The settlers in the area found earning a living solely out of crop growing difficult so they turned to tourism and many have guest rooms for hire. The place we booked was lovely, a cute rustic styled room with comfortable beds and a kitchenette. There was a big yard that was arranged like a Bedouin tent with colorful rugs and cushions, a bit tacky but picturesque. We all found ourselves relaxing, slowing down to the pace of the desert. It was too hot to do anything.
Guest rooms complex "Shvilim Bamidbar" in Hatzeva

Once the air started to cool we went to some hiking in the area. We walked a short walk to Ein-Yorkeam, a wadi where naturally occurring water cisterns create a pretty oasis. The cisterns were still full of water though it's already the height of summer.
Tristram's grackle 
 From there we continued to fill bottles with colored sand and ended the day at the view point watching The Small Crater (Maktesh Katan). Going back to the room we stopped in the middle of road (it was very empty) and watched a herd of ibexes climbing the cliffs above the motorway.My kids reminded me of the notion that my name assign me a mystical connection to these animals (ibex in Hebrew is Yael) because whenever I travel to the desert I'll always see an ibex. We ended the day with a great meal cooked by my Dear Husband and went to sleep like farmers at nine pm.
Lessons in composition on The Peace Road

We woke leisurely the next day and since the heat outside kept rising our solution was the Moshav's swimming pool. The water slide provided a most satisfying substitute to Disneyland's rides.  After lunch we headed back home but we decided not to drive on the main road but rather take a scenic route called the Peace Road.  The Peace Road is actually a service road the farmers of the area use which passes through the hothouses and fields. Since the peace treaty with Jordan it was renovated by the JNF and was added with viewpoints and scenic hiking routes. Like in the famous poem we took the road less traveled by and drove north on the Peace Road. There was really nice desert scenery, and in one of the turns we decided to get off the paved route and drive what seemed to be a fine dirt road. At first all was great, the views were exciting, I shot some pretty pictures, the kids were asleep at the back, and suddenly "whoosh" and we stopped. 
After 15 minutes of futile attempts to rescue us, my Dear Husband spotted a tractor in the distance driving towards the fields. He run and yelled to them like a madman, but it worked. The blue tractor driven by a Thai worker and a Landcruiser driven by his boss pulled us out to safe ground. All this time the kids sat in the air-coned car munching crisps, amused by all the occurrences.  They had something interesting to tell in class.
The voyage home was very conventional, no more adventures off the beaten track with a company car.
Views of the Dead Sea


  1. It looks absolutely beautiful! We have a desert in Australia too and quite a few people get stuck out there with some poor souls perishing. If you go out there again you might need to take some emergency supplies in case you break down again. Water, fold up shovel, tent etc. Lucky there was a farmer passing.

  2. Beatufully written post! The desert is my most favorite part of the country and I'm going to look into that guest house in Hatzeva, you made it sound both relaxing and fun at the same time.

  3. your accommodations looks so much better than what we had to deal with on our trip- aka sunflower seed trail hotel. Great photos and writing

  4. Dear Simcha, Miriyam and Sarah
    Thank you so much for all your comments!
    I must admit the situation was not that dramatic because we had plenty of water and if necessary the settlements were not that far.