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Published: October 24th 2013
It is half past midnight and a loud knock at the door tells us it's time to spring into action. We were given some type of beverage that was pretending to be coffee, hustled onto our bus....and proceeded to the base of the Mount. We were informed that it was a walk of approximately 12 km to the top...but there was an alternative....for the modest sum of $24, one could hire a camel...actually the 1-hump dromedary. These guys are WAY taller than a horse.....and I must admit the idea seemed preposterous and daunting..but I knew I would never forgive myself if I did not go for it. For the first 5 minutes I was...somewhere between tense and terrified. But these docile, sure-footed creatures know what they are doing. My friend Teresa was ahead of me on her beast, and let out little shrieks each time we came close to the edge of the cliff....and I just said to her, "Trust your camel"....making the Bedouins chuckle. A little Bedouin trotted along beside and nattered commands in Arabic and soon I just.....went with it. Imagine...a totally cloudless sky....far from civilization and zero light pollution....feeling the gentle sway of the camel....listening to the melodious
chant of the Bedouins....tilting your head back and seeing a sky of stars beyond anything you ever experienced before.....completely lost in the moment, then brought back to reality by another shriek from Teresa, followed by the Bedouins laughingly repeating, "Trust your camel". They seemed to like that. We did about 11 km on the camel...then the last km was so steep that we had to do it on foot. We finally made it to the top, legs aching, huffing and puffing, freezing cold....to wait....and then see the most spectacular sunrise imaginable. The photos don't even begin to capture the beauty and grandeur of this experience.
We then returned to our hotel for a much-needed breakfast, and a bit of a rest. There was a boutique of souvenirs and local crafts beside our hotel, where I spent a lovely hour making a few purchases, and drinking tea with the shop owners. One spoke a bit of English, and they tried to teach me a few words in Arabic. We sat on low couches in a small tent draped with exotic fabrics of every hue imaginable.
All too soon we were herded back onto our buses to return to Israel....to
Eilat, a beautiful resort city on the sea, known for the Eilat stone, a semi-precious gem. The necklace and earring set that I helped make, then purchased, is made of alternating lapiz lazuli stones, predominantly blue, and the more green Eilat stones. The combination is gorgeous and every time I wear them, I think how hard the shopkeeper worked for that sale.
We stayed at the Crown Plaza, where we enjoyed a nice hot shower (to remove the smell of camel), a delicious meal, and a good night's sleep.
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