A day into the trip and living on very little sleep, I was dozing off by the time we reached Ein Bokek. Best known as a resort district home to the Dead Sea, it was precisely what Austin and I needed to jolt us back into full attentiveness. As Melissa drove, Beth navigated, and Austin and I took in the sights of the desert. We cruised along the length of the sea for what felt like hours. The sunset reflecting on the mountain tops across the sea turned the Jordanian hills a calming pink or orange, and eventually purple. We fumbled our luggage over the threshold of the Tsell Harim Hotel, quickly changed into our bathing suits, and prepared to float for the first time. Being our Dead Sea experts, Beth and Melissa instructed us on proper technique for best floating results. Austin and Melissa ventured out the furthest, while Beth and I struggled with the cold and went as far as we could make it. Eventually I made it to floating stance, after much positive assurance from my travel-mates and the voices in my own head.
After being awake for so many hours, putting my head back and watching the dimly-blinking lights of the Jordan towns on one end of the sea and seeing the bright lights from my hotel, McDonald’s, and the delicious Aroma Espresso Bar on the Israeli side was so soothing. Not only could I appreciating a moment of rest while looking at the lights and stars against the black Middle Eastern sky, but I was literally floating while taking in this view… for the first time in a day full of slightly stressful travel and cramped spaces, this breathtaking moment was the much needed breath I needed to reflect on how I got to where I was and where I’ll be going the next 10 days.
Now, Melissa, Beth, Austin and I are sitting in the hotel lobby about to head to bed. We planned on having a calm night of internet and rest, but then they started blasting the music and pulled out a disco ball. I guess that’s Israel? Can’t wait for what tomorrow will bring. Talk to you all then!
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam shehecheyanu v’kiyimanu v’higi’anu laz’man hazeh.
Blessed are you, L-rd, our G-d, sovereign of the universe who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.
Forrest Yesnes, the NFTY North American President, is spending the next week at the Netzer Veida. He will be posting updates on the NFTY blog frequently, and you can follow him in real time on twitter at @NFTYPresident and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NFTYPresident