Exploring the Desert

Everyone loves field trips and that was no exception for us! We started the week with a field trip for ecology learning about the ecology of the Arava desert and the ecology of the Red Sea. We started at a bird reserve just outside of Eilat, it’s a little late in the season so we didn’t end up seeing too many birds but we learned about all the different types of birds that migrate through Israel.

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One of the big touristy places in a Eilat is an Underwater Observatory Marine Park which I’ve been dying to see, but it’s a little expensive for my tastes. Luckily we went there for the field trip! It features indoor and outdoor exhibits with sharks, sea turtles, all sorts of fish that live around coral reef and an interactive koi fish pond where you can test your mettle and see how long you can keep your fingers in the water while giant koi come to nip at them.

One of the reasons this place is so famous, however, is because in addition to their above ground exhibits, they have a huge structure in the water where you are in the cage and there are windows looking out onto the coral and the fish are swimming all around you! That’s where I snapped a picture of this guy, who was, as you can see, delighted to see me.

After we finished learning about the different fish at the observatory we headed to a coral reef reserve and rented some snorkels and headed into the sea to see the fish and the corals for ourselves!

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On the ride home we stopped at some sewage ponds where flamingos tend to rest as they migrate through Israel down into Africa. Although it’s late in the season, we were lucky, and saw a huge flock of flamingos!

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Later in the week, after one of the first big storms of the season, I headed up into the mountains above the kibbutz to see the flooding in the canyon I’ve come to call “Purple Wadi.” It was well worth my effort and I found lots of pools of water, mud, and things were beginning to grow again.

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One of the guys on the kibbutz told me that it was a good thing I was going hiking to see the wadi because, “You never know which rain will be the last rain of the season, even this early in the year.”

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This weekend was a large indie music festival in the Negev Desert, aptly named InDNegev. It’s about a two and a half  hour drive away from the kibbutz to the north. The weather was astonishingly different with extremely hot days and extremely cold nights.

In addition to lots of excellent music there were a variety of art exhibits, including an area to create shadow puppets (as you can see by my fleece jacket and beanie, I was freezing).

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InDNegev was a three day, two night festival so we all spent a few nights camping in a tent city outside of the festival grounds.

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But all good things must come to an end, and so too did the festival.


#datkibbutzlyfe: There are two places to shop on the kibbutz: the Aspaca and the secondhand store. The secondhand store is a collection of secondhand items donated from people on the kibbutz and sold at the bargain price of two shekels (about 75 cents). The secondhand store has different hours every week (or every other week) as its opening depends on how many items it has to sell. It’s often open once a week, every other week for about an hour or two. There’s a sign in the dining room that will alert us to the opening of the second hand shop a few days before it happens so we have enough time to spread the word to all of the students.

There are a plethora of things in the secondhand store and some people have a knack for finding the best items in the store. I do not have that knack. Luckily, one of our PAs does, so when the secondhand store opened this week and I was cruising around for my third lap, glancing at all of the objects that I’d already seen, he pulled my attention to a tent in the corner of the room. With InDNegev a couple of days away this was exactly what I needed, I’d been telling the PA that we needed a tent just hours before this. So, I happily gathered up the tent and found a shirt and bought both for four shekels. Back at the institute, I put together the tent to check it was in working order and found it to be an excellent 3 person (4 if you squish) tent that came with us to InDNegev where we did, in fact, squish four people into the tent to stay warm at night.

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