i'm back in TLV (just can't quit it!) for the last few days of my stay in this part of the world.. i'm staying with a beautiful half Japanese, half Israeli American chica, May, whose a friend of a friend from back home (HI HILARY!!!) She's been living in TLV for a little over 2 years after spending a semester in BeerSheeba & decided to come back after she finished school.. It's been a fun few days bumming on the beach, drinking wine, eating vegan and laughing at European men trying to hit on us (mostly her!) we had dinner with a group of her friends who also studied abroad with her and have since immigrated to Israel aka doing aliyah.. UM HOW DO I SIGN UP??! coincidentally, her friends and i had mutual friends from back home (small world.. right?!) LOOK HOW HAPPY (and tan) I LOOK!!
While the most memorable parts of this trip will have more to do with people I've met than the landmarks I've seen, I got a chance to visit Petra, Wadi Rum and Ramon Crater this week, which were absolutely stunning. The pictures below don't really do the places justice... but it's better than nothing riiight?
After getting back to Jerusalem from the West Bank, I took a night bus down south to cross the border into Jordan. Little did I know that the city I was heading to, Eilat, is essentially the Cancun on Israel and so instead of a having a peaceful, silent nap on the bus, I was kept awake by heavy bass and EDM for the five hour rideee.... FUN TIMES. I arrived at to the city at 4AM and since the border crossing didn't open till 6:30AM, I took a nap in front of the checkpoint like a homeless person (ahhh.. the traveling hobo life!)
When I finally made it across the border, i met a nice Italian couple who wanted to split a cab to Petra.. so there was a few more hours of napping (in AC at least).. plus a confusing few minutes trying to figure out the conversion rate since none of us actually had Jordanian dinars.. only Euros and Israeli shekels.
Jordan was definitely NOT cheap (for a tourist at least!) The dinar is stronger than the dollar (One dinar is about $.75USD) and visiting Petra for the day is about $120 ($75 if you stay overnight) i was admittedly a little frustrated with the pushiness and aggressiveness of some of the locals I encountered... i totally felt like everyone was trying to rip me off and that i was essentially a walking dollar sign... which is never a pleasant feeling (and also not true.. i’m on a backpackers budget yo!) at the end of the day though, i get it's how they make their living.. AND Petra and Wadi Rum were worth every dinar...
Petra was almost completely empty due to fears about ISIS and the civil war in Syria.. plus it was pretty damn hot.. i didn't mind though since how cool is it to have one of the world’s wonders essentially all to yourself... i was able to watch the sunset without any disturbances.. climb to the top of a hill and journal without being interrupted... and sit right in front of the monastery for an hour without hordes of people disrupting my view.
Wadi Rum was also deserted (PUN intended).. it was just me, my Bedouin guide, plus a German couple driving around the desert for a few hours, hiking up sand dunes and sleeping underneath the stars :)
I crossed back over to Israel the next morning, and headed to Mitzpe Ramon... it's a small town in the south with an incredible crater on the outskirts of the town called Makhtesh Ramon. I hiked around the edge of the crater and it was glorious.... Geology lesson coming up!
Unlike other craters, its neither an impact crater nor was it formed by a volcanic eruption... it was made from an ocean that receded and left a hump-shaped hill that was later flattened by water. when the arava rift valley was formed, the rivers started to carve the inside of the crater, which was a softer rock than that overlying... the crater bottom deepened at a much faster rate than the surrounding walls, which increased in height..
in conclusion MANkind makes structures, but MOTHER nature creates beauty (women>men)!!
i spent the night at a commune after making a last minute couchsurfing request to a wonderful, kind guy named Yariel. It was a really cool experience: i got to make pizzas and listen to people sing songs in Hebrew... plus we ventured out to the Negev desert at night to gaze at the stars :) Yariel was a very sincere person, which was really nice especially afterJordan where it seemed like everyone is trying to rip me off! He grew up in a kibbutz and now lives in the commune, where they pool their money together and take care of one another.. so he's never had his "own money" per say, which is a weird concept to grasp for an American where capitalism and individualism reign.. it ws definitely a memorable experience.. one that i enjoyed but was not expecting at allllll.. but that's the beauty of traveling!
i can't believe my time here is almost over.. i'm flying to Portugal todayyyy... I'm super excited.. but I haven't even thought about my plans.. but i guess i'll wing it :) it's worked well so far :D