I love adventures. To be clear, I do not love Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom adventures where my success depends on eating monkey brains and putting my hand through a hole where spine-sized centipedes are crawling out from. I’ll pass on undersea adventures, and anything where I may end up dangling from a precipice. I like simpler adventures. I like getting in the car and driving, paying attention to roadside signs and pulling over when the fancy strikes. Adventures where I don’t feel like my life is at stake, nor do I need to conquer any lifetime fears.
Dragging my husband on a day trip to Beer Sheva was a bit of a difficult task because there really isn’t anything to do in Beer Sheva and he made that point eloquently in defense of his position that we should go to Haifa. Beer Sheva is one of the four largest cities in Israel and can boast home to one of Israel’s four prestigious universities. There is also a so-called “unmatched” ice cream shop there. I’m no ice cream officianado, but I can tell you that it wasn’t any better than Cold Stone Creamery, so I didn’t have much on my side in the way of convincing Ben to go there. But I found an archaeological site there and the last time I suggested an out of town trip, we did what he wanted so he was pretty much forced into going to Beer Sheva instead of Haifa.
The ride there was beautiful. We borrowed someone’s car so we had access to an air conditioner and a heater, as well as a radio station that played a variety of channels. It sounds relatively simple and I imagine you Americans all expect that in a car, but it’s not so in Israel. Cars are all imported and expensive to fix, so we just suffer through the summer in a hot car and freeze in the winter while listening to one station that plays Israeli soft hits. Not this time! The station alternates between Israeli and American hits so one minute, we were listening to Shlomi Shabbat and the next minute Maroon 5 came on. Happy medium: reached!
The museum was a terrible disappointment. It was dedicated to (at this point I had to look up what the theme of the museum was because the mannequins really distracted me from the content) the history of Beer Sheva starting during the Ottoman Empire and continued through present day.
I learned a bit about General Edmund Allenby, for whom many streets in Israel are named, including a very prominent one in Tel Aviv where a number of shady establishments call home. By shady, I mean strip clubs and opium dens. Oh yeah. I also learned the Samuel Herbert, an early leader in Israeli history, was a British Jew and the people had high hopes for him as a leader. He generally disappointed them as he lacked a robust Zionist spirit, at least according to the museum. We spent about 20 minutes inside and I felt relatively cheated out of my $3 entry fee.
I had really wanted to visit the Beduoin market and Old Town Turkish Quarter, but both were closed as it was Shabbat. We continued to the ruins on Tel Beer Sheva. I love ancient ruins, the idea of archaeology and the adventure.
I guess I do have a little Indian Jones in my heart.
There was a large underground cistern which we were able to walk through and several sections of a recreated township. The mayor’s residence wasn’t much to look at now, but compared to other living quarters, must have been quite roomy.
We left having spent about 30 minutes poking around, taking pictures. I suggested stopping in Ashdod for something to eat. I’d never been there and it’s a biblical city so we thought, why not? It’s also the landing cite of many rockets from Gaza and I thought it might be interesting to see some damage and take pictures.
We got sidetracked by a sign that read: Pita!
Sometimes you just have to go with it.
We exited the freeway and drove through a small tunnel emerging onto a green landscape. We saw many cars, which is a good sign; it means we aren’t driving towards an unwelcome harvesting of our vital organs. We pulled up and parked near the man with the camel. Children were riding atop the poor beast and I couldn’t wait to take pictures of him. Camels are interesting creatures. By interesting, I mean disgusting. They snort, spit and are very unfriendly.
We approached the tent and saw it was a simple hut dedicated to simple food. Pita with labaneh, zatar and olive oil, and other varieties of pita. This pita, however, isn’t the pocket pita, it’s the size of a pizza crush, but flat like a tortilla. They squeeze labaneh, an Arabic cheese, onto the pita, sprinkle some zatar seasoning, squirt some olive oil and dab hot chili sauce onto it before folding it up into a bag for me to enjoy. We also ordered salad, hummus and olives. The hummus was ambitious as we weren’t hungry enough to eat it. Ben ordered hot tea and we sat on traditional Bedouin rugs and cushions while we ate.
Then, we returned to the camel. Ben tried to pet him, but his squirrel whispering skills do not translate to camels. I sweet talked the bugger into giving me a nice smile, snapped a pic and went on my way.
Not one of our better adventures, but the pita and labaneh pretty much made the entire trip worthwhile. How many roadside signs have you passed, missing out on the key ingredient to a great day? Pull over sometime….who knows what camels await you?