Friday, August 25, 2006

Where I've Been

Don't worry, I'm not sick or even particularly stressed out. I have not been travelling (much). It's just that I've been working really really hard (thank God, I have the work!). I did a story this week on almost no notice, and picked up a new client -- an Israeli business for whom I'll be writing a website, so I had to go over there and learn all about their business -- and yesterday I spent a day in Mitzpeh Ramon, for a travel article I'll be doing. Plus there were revisions to do, clients to chase for payments, etc etc. Lots going on. Thank God!

Mitzpeh Ramon was amazing. It's a desert town about an hour south of Be'er Sheva, in the Negev Desert. The town has a population of about 6,000, and is situated at the edge of a large crater called a Machtesh. A machtesh looks like a canyon, but was formed by different geological forces than a canyon is. Macheteshim are unique to Israel, and are known around the world by their Hebrew names.

Things I saw/ did yesterday:
*Picked up two policemen at a checkpoint; they needed a ride south. They were very nice guys. Only in Israel do the policemen hitch rides with citizens passing through a checkpoint!
*Enjoyed stunning views of the Machtesh
*Watched some kids learn to rappel down the side of the cliff.
*Took a 2-hour jeep ride through the crater
*learned about the Nabotean spice route (which was fascinating. History is cool, man.)
*saw a fancy sundial on the roof of the Visitor's Center at the machtesh, one of two of its kind in the world. Science is cool, man.
*Fed some llamas and alpacas at The Alpaca Farm - so cute!
*Learned some basic archery at a campsite that also offers "Archery Golf."
* Checked out a bed-and-breakfast that also offers jeep tours and spa treatments.
*Had lunch at one of the four kosher food-service places in the whole town. Most of the town is all "the ingredients are kosher, but we're open on Shabbat and do not have kashrut supervision." Uh, thanks anyway.
*Had a scrumptious dinner at the Ramon Inn hotel, known not much for its rooms, but famous for its food, which was indeed unusual and delicious.
*Saw a natural rock formation in the middle of the desert that looks just like a camel. It was spooky, how much it looks like a camel.
* Visited the "desert sculpture garden," which spoke to me not at all and seemed a little weird.
*Saw a lot of wild Ibex, who wander around the town of Mitzpeh Ramon in herds.
*Breathed very fresh air; Mitzpeh Ramon has the best air quality of any place in Israel
*Stopped at the side of the highway on the way home, after dark, and gazed at the stars. The visibility was incredible. Stars are cool, man.

I'm exhausted, but it was a good day. Thanks very much to my guide, from Keshet: The Center for Educational Tourism in Israel.

OK, on a different note, I am a little stressed. Partly because I have so much work. I am drowning. Thank God!

And partly because I am having a hard time balancing my work schedule with three other needs in my life: healthy food, exercise, and a clean apartment. Time management is hard, man!

And partly because of the whole "situation" between Israel and its neighbors. My stress has found a focal point in Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. I actually had nightmares last night -- tossing and turning, nightmares! -- about Amnesty International. I woke up more exhausted than when I went to sleep. What a complete waste of emotional energy.

Have a good weekend.

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