Forest and vineyards in the mist. Desert no more.
19 day, 3-15-19, Har Amasa to Meitar, 14 miles
Flowers are everywhere
The wind howled all night long, but by morning seemed to have blown itself out. It was foggy, the wet clinging to the entire landscape, but there was not a breath of air stirring, such a difference from yesterday. We all three headed out of DeDe’s nightclub at the same time, but those two young Amitai’s left me like a trail of smoke. I’d see them several times over the morning and early afternoon, when they stopped for breaks, as I just walk. I find my sustainable pace and just keep on. After 20,000 miles, that’s what’s comfortable.
The fog gave way to a low overcast, but a vapor hung in the air that subdued the vistas and gave a mystical hue to the forests of pine and cedar, such a shocking change from the rock fastness of the desert I’ve been living in for weeks. But the calm of morning was pure bliss, the only sounds being the rhythm of my poles and the coo, cooing of doves in the trees. I walked tall on the mud that clung to my shoes, till its own weight sent it flying off in great clods, like a horse throwing a shoe. I’d walk a bit lopsided then till the other shoe droped. It’s the mud of creation, fit to throw a pot, or a human. And I walked through grass, wet with last night’s rain, dotted with flowers, tiny irises, and blood red poppies.
Two in tall iris. Gorgeous, tiny things.
Blood red poppies
Storm battered but still beautiful.
I heard dogs barking ahead and came upon a Bedouin camp with a covered corral full of sheep. Although the dogs kept barking, they never approached or got aggressive, just doing their job. But it was behind the encampment that I noticed cut stone and low arches on the rocky hillside. It was the remains of a Byzantine church and other structures. The arches and vaults probably supported the floor of the buildings at one time. Now that I’m hiking in the more habitable parts, history leaps at you around every twist and turn.
The hillside is covered in ruins.
Ruins of Byzantine church.
Don’t know what it is, but it is glorious!
The trail wound up through the ruin, and then across ridge after ridge with views in all directions. Far in the distance I could see the high rise of Be’er Sheba and many smaller towns and Kibbutzim.
This little guy was on his way to town too.
When I got to the little town of Meitar, the first person I met offered to give me a ride to the trail angel I was to stay with, as it was on the other side of the town. I was met at the door by Viti, and the wonderful aroma of a Shabbat dinner on the make. Originally of Toronto, Viti is quite an accomplished artist, as attested to by the beautiful canvasses all around the house, and her son, Yizchak, who was folding t shirts for BMX riders, that were so cool, I bought one on the spot.
And then he showed me what a BMX bike was all about. Popping it into the air, he could spin the handlebars completely around and bounce off the rear tire. It’s a trick bike that is way beyond me even thinking of having a go at it.
Viti’s daughter Raz, their eldest child, was helping in the kitchen, as Shabbat was only a few hours away. She’s quite the traveler herself, having lived in South America for extensive periods. I even got to chop it up in the kitchen for a bit, doing a stir fry of spinach and kale.
Viti’s husband, Matti, came in a little later, and is a fascinating guy, an architecture professor in Be’er Sheva who’d lectured at Berkeley, not far from home for me, as well as many other places. He’s Greek, so we shared ouzo and nosh and sat down to a wonderful Shabbat meal when Moshe, their eldest son arrived. He’s running a hotel, but has plans to hike the Shvil as soon as he can get out of the job.
Food, prayers, great conversation and family, is what Shabbat dinner is always about. And what a gift for a dusty hiker to be invited in for all this.
I slept like a log.