Shabbat was over and Sunday, Oct. 24, we were leaving the Machtash. The Machtash is not a crater but a rare geological phenomenon. Of a half dozen or so Machtashim 3 are in Israel and Ramon is the largest. Consequently, this phenomenon in academic circles is known as a machtash just like we call a tsunami a tsunami instead of a very large tidal wave. A machtash is made when one side of 3 different layers of rocks with sand stone in the middle become eroded by water.
I rode my bike to the edge of the Machtash for we were having services outside and after services we had our group picture ( I swear the ride was so much like camp!) Let me tell you at 5:30 am it was freezing. The temp had to be in the low 50s with the windchill factor making it feel even colder. We were all shivering. Services were kind of renewalish. We didn't care for we were all so cold that we were looking forward to riding our bikes just to get warm. As the day worn out temps climbed to the 90s again. What a swing of temps!
We climbed out the Machtash Ramon and headed further south to Kibbutz Keturah. As I look at the map we entered Midbar Paran where Ishmael roamed after his exile from Abraham's camp and not earlier as I stated before. Leaving Midbar Paran we climbed steadily until the final descent into the Aravah valley where kibbutz Keturah lies. The desent down the mountain was scary. Only two bikers went down at a time this winding steep road so that we would bunch up and have an accident. I was riding with a nice woman from Cambridge who was going so slow that I was afraid I was going to hit her. I picked up enough speed just to pass her. She yelled out, "I'm sorry for going so slow." I yelled back, "Are you kidding me, I'm scared to death." I didn't realize that the next descent was even worse.
We made to kibbutz Ketura around 3pm. There were 3 tours available as well as a swimming pool for those who wanted to cool off. One tour was a tour of the kibbutz and the Aravah Institute. Another tour took the bikers to the date palm orchard. The final tour looked at the solar power station which has a Jordanian partner (an alum of the Arava Institute) working on the same project from the Jordanian border. I took the kibbutz tour, but all 3 sounded good. I guess I shall just have to take the bike ride again to hit the other tours.
We had an opportunity to meet the students in the program and learn about what they are doing. I spoke to a Jordanian young man and an American young woman after I went back to my room and showered first for the sake of all of humanity.
We ended the day with a lovely BBQ. I shamoozed with some old and new friends before I went to bed. Of course, I made a wrong turn and got totally lost and disoriented going back to my guest house room. Luckily, I saw a golf cart type of truck pull into a garage. I went over and asked in Hebrew how to get back to the guest house and the kid replied in English, "I don't speak Hebrew." He was an American volunteer who just came over a few months before. Thank God, English is my mother tongue. I told him of my predicament and he offered to drive me there. Was I lost. I would never have found my way back. Like Moses I would have been wandering in the desert for 40 years.