I'm so behind on the blogging of this trip that I don't even know where to start. In the last few days since I posted we left Jerusalem, we visited Beit Guvrin and did an archaeological dig and found 2,500 year old ceramics. We stayed and played at Kibbutz Ein Gedi, we watched the sunrise at Masada after waking up at 4.20am and climbing two km and 350m in altitude in the dark. We experienced a hamsin/dust storm in the Negev desert, we floated in the lowest and saltiest sea on earth, the Dead Sea. We walked Nachal David and swam in its desert waterfalls. We stopped by the side of the road and collected multi coloured sand to layer in our bottles and then we drove down to Mitzpe Ramon and checked into the most magnificent hotel on earth right on the edge of the crater. Since we've been here we've visited a soap factory, swam in the pool, eaten waaaaaay too much, and been on a jeep tour of Makhtesh Ramon.
So how on earth do I catch up? I guess I take my own advice and tell one story. Well that's what I told my girls who are behind in their journals too.
So this story is about a meal. Aren't most stories about meals when you're traveling?!
This story starts just after we left the archaeological dig last Sunday. We were hot and dusty and hungry and we were preparing for a big, long drive down south. Our tour guide and driver had a few suggestions for lunch stops along the way, but Bren's sister and family had other ideas. They wanted to go back to a small place they had eaten at once before and loved.
Somehow we wound our way through the narrow streets to Abu Gosh, an Arab town 10km outside Jerusalem. Somehow Bren's sister and family looked at all the other restaurants and cafes we passed by and found their way back to the right one. And somehow they convinced our tour guide and driver that it was OK for us all to eat there even though they were wary as they had never eaten there before.
And as we walked in the owner recognised them from their last visit. He recalled what they had eaten and where they had sat. And then he took our order and brought us back so many plates that they didn't all fit on the table at once.
So this is a story of big plates of hummus. Of pita and tahini and labena and felafel's and schug. This is a story of salads and pickles and olives and chips. This is a story of schnitzel and kebabs. And this is a story of limonana, the most delicious icy lemon, mint drink I have ever drunk.
This is the story of one of those meals that etches itself in your mind. This is a story that will become a memory that has smells and sounds and tastes attached. This is a story of meal shared with family. Of laughter and chatter and full bellies. This very meal may have been the conception of farmer Bren's humus baby.
This is a story of a place filled with hookahs/water pipes. Where the waiters bring sweet smelling tobacco to your table and light you up.
This is a story where the soundtrack is loud Arabic music and conversations in Hebrew and Arabic.
This was a wonderful story. A Middle Eastern Feast story. A story of stepping off the tourist trail for a while and finding a gem. This was a story where we were too full to even contemplate desert but the owner sent us off with a packet of baklava for later.
All journeys are filled with stories, but particularly these stories of life and culture on the other side of the planet feel important. Important for us to experience and to record. What a gift to be able to see these things for ourselves. The architecture, the language, the customs, the music, the clothing, the currency, the politics, the way of life and of course the food.
We're going on a camel ride this afternoon and then we're heading North for our last few days in the morning. It's all flying by so fast. I've been trying to convince my farmer boy to stay on here for another month. I'm so not ready to go home to the cold and the routine.
If you want to fill in some of the unblogged gaps in our trip you could check me out on instagram at foxslane. Otherwise hopefully I'll get to them here at some stage. Hopefully.
I think I might go for a walk now and take some photos of this amazing place in the middle of the desert. Or maybe I'll find my boy and get him to make me a Turkish coffee. Decisions, decisions...
I hope you guys are making happy memories and wonderful stories too.
And shalom x