Today is the day scheduled for going into Egypt in order to go to the traditional spot for Mt. Sinai (there is a debate as to exactly which mountain it is.) I opted out and stayed at the hotel for a day of rest. Yesterday I started feeling weary, so we decided I'd recharge my batteries by NOT climbing the 2000+ ft to the top of the mountain! They were driven to a monastery at about 5000ft elevation and from there will be climbing 3700 stairs to the top. Elevation is 7000+ft.
I've had a slow morning in Eilat. This is a tourist city geared for both Israelis and Europeans seeking sunny beaches. A lot of water sports etc go on here too. It is the middle of winter, but right here the weather is just right. I just got back from a walk along the boardwalk in short-sleeves - there are people swimming and sunbathing. The boardwalk is like a upscale Venice Beach without all the crazy people!
There is also a mall which I went into and had a freshly squeezed orange juice. In order to go into all malls in Israel you have to go through security - a metal detector and police who look into all bags. It is worse than Colombia - but understandable since malls are where suicide bombers like to go.
I am using a computer in the hotel lobby - it is all in hebrew, so everything is right to left and there are error messages which pop up and I just guess which of the options to click!!!
Another interesting non-biblical observation is that there are a lot of Russian jewish immigrants in Israel. I've seen the Russian flag a lot down in this South part of the country. It was also one of the languages which had simultaneous translation going on at the church we visited last Sunday.
Today is Friday, so everything will be closing early this afternoon in preparation for the Sabbath. Although I don't know how much Eilat will slow down - it is very "western" and touristy.
Yesterday we drove down here from Beer-Sheva where we had spent the night in a youth hostel. We saw the more recent well of Beer Sheva (=well of the treaty) dating to 12th century BC. Also saw some amazing ruins from Canaanite, Israelite and Nabateans eras. Probably most impacting was our "wanderings" in the wilderness. It is so barren and desolate out there. Dry with canyons and other amazing landscapes. We spent a few minutes out there in the wilderness of Paran where Ishmael became a great nation and where later Moses brought the Israelites through on their way to the promised land. We read Deut. 8 where God tells them about the prosperity they will have in their new home and talks about them remaining faithful when they have plenty. They had to learn to trust God to provide when it seemed impossible in the barren wilderness - and then in times of wealth they forgot Him and were unfaithful. Challenging for us to think about who or what we are depending upon - both in times of barren wanderings and plentiful comfort.
Well... I am off to have a sandwich with the rest of my orange juice on the balcony of our hotel room overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba (or Gulf of Eilat).