By Kim Soderberg
“Journey to the wilderness…”, is how our itinerary description for this day begins. We wake up in an oasis. You know, like the ones you see in the cartoons amid the desolation of the desert. This green, lush beautiful place full of wildlife. An oasis. The Kibbutz Ein Gedi. We have one day here. Only one. Our group has been so amazing along this journey through Israel about appreciating the specialness of every opportunity and for that reason, of course, we wake up in the dark to meet at the perfect place to enjoy the sunrise.
Twenty one of our group are there before the sun to marvel at this extraordinary place. She didn’t disappoint. We sang to her to coax her over the mountain in the desert and she finally graced us with her presence, reflecting her light off of the Dead Sea. I always appreciate a sunrise, but this one was particularly spectacular.
Spectacular. Can that word be overused? It seems the more you use a word, the less weight it holds. Here, in Israel, I find myself using these kinds of grand adjectives to describe EVERYTHING!
Again today, as I anticipate what I assume will be the highlight of this trip, I find myself using the word once again.
We are traveling to the Dead Sea. Why is it dead? What is the specialness of this place? Will it be truly spectacular? All questions I had in York before we left. I researched those first two questions to find my answers before departure, but the third must be experienced firsthand. Today, I finally had the chance to find out for myself. I was nervous and excited. Would I fall? Would I really float!? Would the salt burn?
After the long walk down to the retreating coastline, I began to see it. The salt. Mounds of salt. Loose salt that looked like chunky sand on the beach. Salt crystals formed on railings. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. As I walked in with my teammates; the bottom crusted with salt, I had to take care not to fall on the jagged bottom. “Just lay back and float,” Dani says.
Sure it can’t be that easy. Carefully, I do as he says and sure enough just like a bobber at the end of a fishing line, that’s exactly what we all did. We let the salt do its magic as we floated, laughed and relaxed together, enjoying this journey to the wilderness. I did not fall. It did not burn. This place is one-of-a-kind.
It was everything I had imagined it would be. It was spectacular! Truly. A highlight, but not THE highlight. I’m having a difficult time narrowing it down to just one.
The wilderness has been spectacular. This day has been spectacular. This journey has been spectacular. These people are spectacular. To me, this word I’ve used so much in the past 9 days holds just as much weight today as it did when I used it day 1 to describe this life changing experience.
Israeli is SPECTACULAR!