Yes, snow in the desert, each time it happens, about every 10 years, it still amazes me. We are at a height of only 600+ meters, but we do get snow every so often. These few pictures show what we look like when draped with snow and it is often the occassion to take a few hours off work to explore this new white world. It is "different" seeing palm trees and Yucca cacti covered in snow. They are NOT plants you usually associate with the white stuff.
Time to get out the scarves and knitted caps and go play in the snow.
Marijana made the trip all the way from Macedonia to Arad and it seems that during her entire visit she was smiling or laughing...I guess she enjoyed Arad and Israel and visiting us ^O^
Hope we can have her back for a longer visit soon and thanks Marijana for making our home a little bit MORE happier than it usually is.
The world famous Yoona (affectionatly known as "Hotsauce") has finally arrived here in Arad with Guy. They were here for far too short a time, but we do hope they will grace us with another, LONGER, visit soon. How we met is a funny story.....Yoona asked me to teach her a few words or phrases in Hebrew, the language of Israel. Now that in itself is passing strange since only about 8 million people speak this language, so I asked her "Why?". She told me that her boyfriend was from Israel...so I taught her a few essentials.
Yesh le kaev roash (I have a headache)
Lo akshav (not now)
Lo ba le (don't feel like it)
and others of course....this new vocabulary interested Guy and then I found out that he had actually lived in our town of Arad and we had friends in common. So for Guy, when they arrived it truly was like coming home !!! ^O^
The first photo shows, Michele who arrived to visit and said she wanted to see the desert, well the best place to see it is from the Arad Observation Point at the far southeastern corner of Arad...you can see behind us the Dead Sea (was a misty day but if you look you CAN see it just behind the white structure in the background.
Artists quarter is used to be Arad's old industrial zone, but now it is slowly taken over by creative people. There are numerous galleries, glass museum, some small restaurants, and even a place where you can buy real, homemade goat cheese. Some of these places are closed on Saturdays, but not all of them, so you can visit the area on any day. It still looks a bit undeveloped, but slowly it is getting its artistic shape and it's a nice place to spend an afternoon.
What to do in a desert? A desert can appear as a very exciting and colorful place if you pay attention to every detail. First, it's not only sand and an occasional camel on a flat landscape. Desert has some vegitation, which you'll be suprised to discover. Plants and bushes moving rocks and make their way out to the sun. Beautiful views on the relatively low, but still, mountains and birds that are rather gliding above them. Different rocks and stones that make the desert have so many colors. The beautiful Arad stone, that can be found only in this area and colors the tops of the hills. And if you fancy mountain biking then this place is a paradise!
Sometime in the late fall or early winter, maybe October or November...after the first cool nights and some slight rainfall, that is the time to take a visit to Nahal Lahat, only a few kilometers southeast of Arad. Just off of highway 31 from Arad, take the highway 258 south for about 1-2 kilometers. Nahal Lahat is marked with a sign on the road, but the singular flowers, the Helmonit is NOT mentioned. If you visit the canyon any other time of year you would never suspect that this is the scene of such spectacular blooms. But during the RIGHT time you will be treated to an unreal sight, in the middle of the dry desert you will suddenly see blooms that rival the sun in their brightness. The Helmonit is named after the color of the yolk of the egg (Helmon in Hebrew, hence Helmonit). They peek out at you from the bare ground around boulders where you would never suspect such color. Well worth a visit each and every year.
This is a recent archeological dig at a site called "Tel Kryiot" (Tel in Hebrew means "mound", where you can often find ancient building sites), the leading archeologist is our friend Steve who you can see in the forefront of the first picture.
The site is only a few kilometers west and north of Arad, about a 2 hour walk across the desert. Steve and his group found a great mosaic floor and also a lintel inscribed and having the name of the town "Kryiot". Now Steve has a supposition, that one of the disciples of Jesus came from this town. His theory goes like this.
The name of the disciple was Judas, whose surname was Ishkryiot. The word "Ish" in Hebrew means "man" or "person". Often in ancient times people did not have a family name so were often refered to by their place of birth, so IshKryiot, could mean "Man of Kryiot", so hence the name Judas IshKryiot.....what do you think.
Right by the Dead Sea, behind the Royal hotel you will find a path that will lead you to the dry river (Wadi) Ein Bokek. Hiking along this known Judean Desert's river is quite easy, although sometimes you will have to climb hills and even walk in mud. You'll come across some small water pulls and tiny waterfalls.
When I first saw the "waterfall" shown by our devoted desert guide Martin_S. I said "That's it?" Martin's answer made perfect sence: " Try to walk in the desert for several days and then find this "that's it" thing!"
Your hike in Ein Bokek will be accompanied by birds, butterflies, dragonflies. Small animals can be seen too, but rarely.
The total route would take about 30-40 minutes. If you stay to chill in the pools it will take longer. Remember to bring water, a hat, and sunscreen. Summer at the Dead Sea area is very hot and dry, therefore I'd suggest you to visit Ein Bokek in early morning, around 6-7am.
There wan't be a problem parking your car, just you can leave it along the road. Entrance is free.
I have probably shown other sunsets here in Arad and the desert surroundings more than once, but each time the skyscape seems to come up with a new configuration, almost as if the desert was putting on an ad campaign just for me so I could show YOU.
This series was from October 2004 and the fourth picture was for me the most amazing, it looked almost as if the lower part was over a large lake and the sun was glistening off its surface...what better scene for a nice glass of wine..
Not really....but the Sampsons have two very funny cats...I think the one in the picture is Nala. Anyways, we noticed that Nala kept approaching a basket that the Sampsons have next to their dining room table (by the way, the Sampsons have A LOT of interesting things next to their dining room table - and ON their dining room table, as you can see from the intro photo! Martin's wife Zohara is a fantastic chef!!!).
In that basket were a bunch of dried gourds. Nala seemed to be obsessed with this one gourd, as he would just lick it and lick it and lick it....we would take the gourd away and he seemed to be bereft; we'd put the gourd back in the basket, and sure enough - he'd be right back there again, licking and licking and licking that gourd all over....it was really the most peculiar feline behavior I've ever witnessed! According to Zohara, that was "the first time" they'd ever seen Nala exhibit such strange behavior - which they attributed to their guests (David and me!)
Thought that Michele would make a perfect desert nomad, she had so much patience to sit with me and just enoyed looking into the desert. There is a small table here at the observation point that I like to sit down and make a cup of Bedouin Desert Tea at...I guess you can understand why I like this spot...
This is Michele standing next to the "white object" you could see in the background of the previous picture...they tell me it is supposed to represent a plane in flight...sorry the only "flight" I see here is when I "fly away" from it...
This shows Evelyn and I on the south rim overlooking a section of a path that runs for 15 kilometers over some of the best sights in Israel. Sorry the pic is poor, but it will give you and idea. At this point we are riding very close to the edge and look downwards over 100 meters to the bottom.
You can find in some areas that were, or are being used for airforce or army target practice, leftover ruins of tanks. This on that Giora is climbing on is what is left of a Russian tank that the Syrian Army used to invade the north of Israel.