Our alarms woke us up at 4am today and before the sun rose we were on the bus headed to Masada. With our water bottles filled we were off. Everyone was able to take the mountain at their own pace and we are happy to say that ALL of Bus 26 made it to the top! Masada meant different things to each of us but for nearly all of us it was a personal accomplishment. A great example is Julie Gottfried, she said, “Mt. Masada has been on my bucket list for a really long time, although a little over a year ago I never thought I would have been able to climb it. Eighteen months ago I had reconstructive hip surgery and could barely walk. To get to the top of Masada today was such a personal accomplishment and something I had been looking forward to for a long time. I couldn’t be happier getting to reach this goal with all of the amazing people on bus 26.”
When we made it back down from Masada we ate a very well-deserved breakfast and headed off to an Ahava factory where they produced Dead Sea products. We learned that the industry surrounding the Dead Sea has both pros and cons. On one hand it makes up about 25% of Israel’s economy, providing for the livelihoods of millions of Israelis. On the other hand, the industry has proven to be unsustainable. Every year the Dead Sea is receding and at this rate, we will see the disappearance of the Dead Sea within our lifetime.
By the time we got around to our third activity it felt like we had already accomplished so much that nothing could stop us. That wouldn’t stop the Dead Sea beach from trying! We took a bus to a popular beach and were on our way out to the water when the winds started to pick up. The water was colder than expected as it was but when the icy wind began to blow, most of us went running for cover/warmth. The sensation of floating effortlessly in a body of water at the world’s lowest point was amazing for the short while we were able to stay but the effect on our skin has lasted much longer! There was the expected initial discomfort but by now our skin has never felt softer and healthier!
We checked back into Jerusalem and still managed to grab a quick lunch despite the rain before hearing a lecture about Israel’s geopolitics. We were all exhausted with such an early day but the subject was so fascinating that we couldn’t help but hang on to every word said. We finished the day with dinner and a birthday party for Cara who turned 19. We had cake, balloons and lots of singing for our birthday girl before lighting the candles for the 4th night of Hanukkah and ending our day together.Julie