Saturday, April 26, 2003

Yesterday we drove through a fierce sandstorm to get to our little hideaway in Mitzpe Ramon.

At times we thought we would be swept clean of the road along with the sea of sand that raced across the asphalt. We stopped for refuge from the storm at a little cafe by Sdeh Boker, the kibbutz that used to be Ben Gurion's desert home. We weren't the only ones. It was one of those little places that usually get about three customers an hour. The kibbutzniks operating the place were rather overwhelmed, if not from the masses then from the mountains of sand that blew in with every person that fought his or her way in. Bish, the girls and I finished off the last of the Burekas. There was one group of depressed looking men. They'd come down to the Negev for a bicycle-riding holiday, but in this wind they couldn't keep a bicycle up for two meters to save their lives, not to mention the difficulty actually breathing when there was more sand than breathable air swirling furiously round. They sat in a circle with their coffees and discussed what they should do. We left before they reached a decision. Not that I was eavesdropping or anything.

Miraculously, we reached Mitzpe Ramon in one piece. This was no easy feat considering the wind, the sand, the non-existent visibility and the cars coming the other way that somehow kept appearing on our side of the road, racing straight at us (some without their headlights, despite the low visibility).

And suddenly it was over, with no sign it had ever happened, besides the plastic bags strewn everywhere. Today was a beautiful, sunny and windy day in Mitzpe Ramon, which we spent strolling along the cliff of the crater. We found a nice statue, in the Statue Garden and plonked ourselves down. I think I even dropped off in the cool sun. Don't let the name Statue Garden mislead you. This is a desert and these are desert statues. No lawn. No dinky little trees. The Statue Garden spreads along the rocky ground at the cliff edge of the crater. Eldest pointed out that it was peaceful in a wild way.

We thought this would be our last visit to our funny little place in Mitzpe Ramon. The lease is up and we weren't planning to renew it, but we are loath to part with our hideaway, simple and basic as it may be. For us it's pure heaven.