Our first stop was the Dead Sea. Understandably, it was very hot and we had time to go in the water and relax with the rest of the delegation. I’m not a huge fan of the Dead Sea. In fact, I find it pretty gross – not because of the salt content (the fact that you can float at will is pretty amazing) but the water has a greasy, grimy feel to it. As per Meryl’s request, I dipped my toes in (actually, I walked in to about my calves, true story) and then decided I had my fill of greasy, salty water and worked on my tan. I call that a pretty good afternoon.
We then ascended Masada. Fortunately, we had a great tour guide (if anyone needs a guide, let me know; I’m happy to make a recommendation), who gave us great insight into the various rooms and spaces of King Herod’s fortress atop the mountain. One of the team photographers was with our group and took a photo of me and Jared in this long room that had been used for storage but could easily have been a bowling lane. So we threw a few metaphorical shots down the lane; now I’m just waiting for the photos to get posted (they looked really great … I’ll include a link as soon as I see it).
Finally, we made our way down the mountain and headed to dinner at the Bedouin experience. At this point, we’d sweated gallons in the heat at both the Dead Sea and Masada; we were tired, our clothes were sticking to our backs, and we probably didn’t smell too fresh. And on top of that, the heat tires you out. We were just happy to sit and have a fairly relaxing dinner (and very tasty too) with some of the people from our bus. Incidentally, not only did we have a great tour guide but our bus-mates were wonderful as well. Hats off to the Open Karate and Open Tae Kwon Do teams – we had some great times.
Leading up to the games, a big question was what to do in observance of Tisha B’Av, when we mark various tragedies that have happened in Jewish history (the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem, the Crusades, etc.). Sometimes the Jewish calendar doesn’t always fall out in the most ideal way, and all you can do is make the best of the options available. Sadly, some did not get to participate at the Bedouin tent because they headed back north for a more traditional pre-fast seudah (meal) and the reading of Eicha, the Book of Lamentations. I hope each group had a chance to spend a little time discussing Tisha B’Av, especially as we went through Jerusalem and walked through the Temple excavations.