We have survived a long, cold night in the Bedouin tents! It was worth it for our morning experience:
camel riding. Well, camel and donkey
riding. We got up early in the morning,
had breakfast, and then saddled up. On
the first leg of the trip, I rode a donkey.
In my humble opinion, he was the cutest donkey, but he was also,
unfortunately, the tallest donkey, and my 5-foot-2 self had to use a chair to
get onto the saddle. After that little
mishap, though, we had a 15-minute ride through the desert on donkeyback. The ride went fairly smoothly, and when we
turned around, we switched to camel riding.
Liana and I shared a camel (also the cutest camel), which was a
significantly…taller experience. It was
well worth it, though, for the view; you can see the entire desert from that
vantage point. It might seem like the
Negev is just sand and rocks, but there’s something incredibly beautiful, and
humbling, about seeing it stretch out forever around you, unobstructed.
We also look pretty flippin’ cool on camelback:
After our camel ride, we left for Masada, the ancient
fortress on top of a cliff. The story of
Masada is an interesting one: it was first a fortress for King Herod who built
it around 37 BCE, and later it was the last stronghold of a small group of Jews
who were fighting the Romans in 66 CE. After they were outnumbered and siege was laid to the fortress, they decided that they would rather burn the fortress and die than be captured.
If you’re interested, you can read the whole story here: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Masada1.html
While the tale of Masada is pretty depressing, the hike was
spectacular. We took the steep way up;
it’s about a 20-minute walk up a steep stair path (but there is a
railing). At the top, there is, of
course, another breathtaking view. More
powerful for me, though, was the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony we had for the
students who had not yet had them.
Traditionally a Bar Mitzvah (for guys) and Bat Mitzvah (for girls) takes
place at age 13, where the student officially becomes and adult and a member of
the Jewish community. A Bar/Bat Mitzvah
can happen at any age, though, so about 7 students decided to have theirs today
at the old synagogue on top of Masada.
It was a short ceremony (and unfortunately no candy-throwing, a typical
Bar/Bat Mitzvah tradition), but it was pretty cool to realize how this
trip has affected people: these seven students decided to have
this ceremony, traditionally done before close friends and family, with a
group of people they didn’t even know seven days ago, in Israel, far away from
After the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony, we all received letters
from our parents that they had written for us before the trip. My mother’s letter included pictures from
when she was at the top of Masada 34 years ago.
I know my mother is reading this, so Hi Mom, thanks for the letter.
In the spirit of family competition, I tried to
take a picture in the same place my mother did.
Here’s the result:
And here’s another view from the top:
That’s the path we climbed up.
This post is getting long, so I’ll cut it off here. In part 2, I’ll talk about Ein Geidi and the
Now, based on the title you may be wondering what kind of story this will be. As you will soon find out, it’s a story of adventure born out of the pure, dark chaos that fills the minds of sleep deprived Caltech undergrads.
I’m starting a new miniseries on the blog – Film Club! Each episode, I’ll share a short clip from a popular piece of media, and then completely dissect and overanalyze it, because let’s face it, I’m doing it in my head already anyway. You say “buzzkill.” I say “science.” We’ll kick things off with a clip from Gravity Falls I discussed a bit in my previous post: Season 2 Episode 12, A Tale of Two Stans. If somehow you haven’t watched this show yet (?!)… spoilers incoming!
It’s crazy to think that I began applying to college almost three years ago. I still remember spending hours looking at college websites, admissions blogs and reddit pages to try to get a sense of what college is ACTUALLY like. To help you get through these stressful times, here are a few tips that I wish I had listened to. Hopefully, these will ease your worries and maybe even make the process more enjoyable!?