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Camels and Carbs

bedouin1.jpgI honestly don’t know which I love more: carbs or animals. So it’s no wonder I fit right in with the Negev Bedouins who make the best bread (by burying it in dirt, mind you) that I have ever tasted in my life. Both Muhammad, whom I met in the desert, and Zarifi, whose acquaintance I made at her home in the village of Derig’at, showed me a few different ways to make bread. Sometimes soft, thick, and fluffy, other times more tortilla-like, let it suffice to say that whatever the style, I ate it like a wild animal who’d just emerged from hibernation. Muhammad also provided me with ample opportunities to fawn all over his camels, not to mention letting me take one of ‘em for a spin, so, you know, I can pretty much say with confidence that the funnest day of my life has come and gone. Oh, and then there’s this little gem, about which I have absolutely nothing to say. more»

The Crater That Isn’t

BeresheetBenni, a surly, stocky dude with a shaved head and an accent that’s part British, part Belgian, part American, and part local, was my guide through the behemoth 23-mile-wide Makhtesh Ramon. The giant hole in the Negev’s barren landscape looks so much like a crater that it’s virtually always called a crater. But if I were to dare call it such, as opposed to its, ahem, proper name—a makhtesh!—Benni informed me I’d be tossed out of his Jeep faster than a fat sand rat scurrying through the desert. Anyway, whether you care about the official nomenclature of this mammoth non-crater or not is moot—what really matters is the amazing Beresheet resort propped along its edge. Say what you will about the art at the entrance (is it a positive or negative comment on the burka?), this sweet little oasis in the middle of the desert is one hot potato in my book. more»

Here and There and Everywhere

deadsea1.jpgMy six-day Israeli cram session on virtually everything between Tel Aviv and Eilat felt at times like a surrealist experiment, in which my exploits included bobbing in the Dead Sea while my recently shaved legs begged for mercy, throwing rocks and screaming “Hello!” at the top of my lungs in the middle of the desert, swimming with dolphins at the apex of Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, encountering a level of devoutness that almost frightened me, hiking to the top of Masada in time to catch the sunrise, and cramming all of Tel Aviv into four measly hours. The result is a collection of photos that makes very little sense altogether. So enjoy this random catch-all—I promise a (hopefully) more structured set of posts featuring Bedouin bread-breaking, a sassy camel, and a 24-mile crater that isn’t a crater at all (and don’t you dare call it one) in the next few days! more»