Thursday, January 24, 2013

On the Road to Ein Gedi

Jodie and I drove south this week, on our way to a three-day vacation at the Dead Sea. We headed east, bypassing Jerusalem to the north, and entered the desert. The barren hills were tinted green, a souvenir of the recent rains. Herds of goats and sheep were making their way from one Bedouin encampment to the next.

We drove along the Dead Sea shore. According to the media, the level of the sea rose by 10 centimeters this winter, but still the shoreline continues to recede into the distance. The evaporating sea and the eroding land around it is a man-made tragedy that can still be prevented.

Just as we approached Kibbutz Ein Gedi, where we decided to have lunch, we came across an unusual sight. The car ahead of us on the highway stopped, and we stopped as well. Jodie hurried out of the car, carefully crossed the highway, and took out her i-Phone. A beautiful female ibex was standing among the rocks overlooking the sea, but by the time Jodie was ready to take a photograph, it had disappeared down the cliff.

A few minutes later I need to slam the brakes as another female ibex darted across the highway.

On our return journey north, I told Jodie to have our digital camera ready. Sure enough, in the high passes just north of Ein Gedi, we again came across a number of ibexes. Thankfully, they gathered at a spot where it was easy for me to pull off the road. As Jodie took pictures from the car window, one young ibex stared at her, unafraid of its human visitor.

I don't know if the appearance of ibexes on the highway is a good sign (due to an abundance of food after the heavy rains); a bad sign (because their normal habitat has been disturbed); or if it's completely normal. We've driven on the Dead Sea highway many times in the past, but this is the first time we've come across the beautiful ibexes that roam the desert.

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