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Desert Days : Camping in the Negev

– Written by Jordyn Myah: Winter 2014 RLI Participant
One of my favorite things about living in Israel has been all the hiking and camping I’ve been doing. Obviously I could do that at home, but it’s different being in a new place. I feel more motivated to go out and explore. Also, this was a group activity, so everything was planned for me, which helps a lot.
The last camping trip I went on was to the north. This time I went to the south, to the Negev Desert. If you’ve never been to a desert, I highly suggest going. Deserts are such incredible places, and it’s so easy there to disconnect from the rest of the world and just be in the moment. Sleeping in a tent and peeing behind a bush helps with that too. There’s nothing like the lack of a toilet to let you know that you’re on Mother Nature’s turf now.
After our hike we went to the grave and kibbutz home of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and badass visionary. His grave is up on a hill overlooking the canyon we hiked through, and it’s beautiful. It was also pretty awesome because a random Blackhawk was doing landing drills all over the place.
After that we went to Sderot, the most heavily fired-upon city in Israel. It gets the brunt of rocket attacks from Gaza, so much so that schools and playgrounds have bomb shelters meant to look like fun, kid-friendly places. We also went to a viewpoint overlooking the border with Gaza. It’s interesting to be so close to the border and know that the people living in Sderot simply don’t have the protection they need against rocket attacks.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it after this, but Israel is a complicated place. In two days I went from hiking in a beautiful canyon to looking at the remnants of Qassam rockets to standing in the home of a prime minister to watching a Blackhawk to drills. Israel is not made up of conflict alone but of a vast and varied amount of culture. There’s so much to see here, and I hope that in the future people will look past their anti-Semitism and their absurd standards for Israel and will see this place for what it is—beautiful and amazing and old and rich in so many things.
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