Desert and Water
10.09.2008 23 °C
After breakfast in our outdoor area we met up with the jeep driver for our tour of the desert. Luckily I had the opportunity to sit in the front right beside the driver/guide. This allowed me to ask questions and it minimized the impact of the bumps.
Seeing the mountains in the desert was a whole new experience. Somehow I don't think we were aware of all the colours and the variety of rocks and rock formations in the desert. Each turn we took brought us to whole new vistas. Who would have thought that the desert could provide so much variety!
Most of the trees we saw were acacia trees. They can stay green for a long time with a minimum amount of water. However, there is a parasitic "tree" that attaches to it, and kills both the tree and itself. This may be a paradigm for the peoples of the area.
Although there was very little vegetation in the desert since there had been no rain for 10 years, we did see a plant that appeared to be flowering. It turned out to be a caper plant. And I thought that capers were just found in jars pickled! It was fascinating to learn that the caper plants had multiple uses and protections to grow in the desert.
It would be great to come back to the desert after the next rain because apparently there are countless plants that remain dormant until it rains. Think about it. If we don't water our plants for a day or so at home, they die. These plants survive in a dormant state for long periods of time and flower at the first opportunity even if that is more than 10 years.
The last stop on our trip to the desert was to climb (in the jeep) to one of the highest points in the mountain range. From this vantage point, we were able to see Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and northern Israel. This really underlines how close Israel is to its neigbouring (often not so friendly) Arab states.
One of the wonderous things we saw as we rode in the jeep was a single rider on a road bike on the road surrounding the desert. Our guide informed us that this man did the 80 km circular route 2-3 times a week. This involved 40 km. of climbing grades up to 10% in temperatures around 35-40 degrees C. And the man was 78 years old!!
Our next stop was the Coral Beach. When we arrived at the beach we were struck by the beauty of the water. We had never seen such bright colours of water before. We were particularly awed by the fact that the water seemed to be of three distinct colours.
While snokling I was able to see a beautiful display of fish as I swam over the coral reef. I tried to retain the colours of the fish but there were such a great variety - blues, reds, green, yellow, orange, purple, black, white and striped fish. The combinations of colours and sizes of fish was awesome.
It was unfortunate that Rick could not join me but he was having trouble with using the snorkle.
After a brief break we had an outstanding dinner at a lovely restaurant called Eddie's Hideaway. One of the learnings we have, is that many of the meals are large enough for both of us to share. We had a piece of fish for dinner that covered a whole plate. I am not sure how one person could eat this. But of course after cycling we know that this would appear to be a small meal and sharing would not be a consideration.
As in Jerusalem, there are many, many cats wandering around the streets of Eilat!