If you are cycling through the Negev Desert, duly striving to “Beware of Camels Near Road” and avoiding the “Danger Firing Area” that exists on both sides of the road, where do you stop for lunch? Well, you peer into the distance and notice the glowing golden arches of McDonalds, and you realize that civilization really does exist. A gas station, a coffee shop, and a McDonalds. All of the modern conveniences, or Mod Cons as the hip travel guide calls them.

By the way, we did see camels today, probably a dozen or so all together. Mostly they were too far from the road for photography, but one trio was quietly munching on whatever it is camels munch on along the roadside, and we stopped to stare at each other for a few minutes, and take a couple of snapshots.

Somewhere along the way to Mitspe Ramon we were passed by a group of club cyclists, then a bit later we passed them as they were stopped on the side of the road. Finally, just as we were getting to Mitspe Ramon, another cyclist caught us up from behind and chatted us up a bit. He flattered us by saying he had raced a bit to catch up to us. He was cycling with several others who soon caught up from behind, and they invited us to join them at a cafe for a bit of refreshment and conversation, then showed us where the hostel is. A very pleasant introduction to the town.

It is about a quarter after 5 now, which is dusk, and we just went out to look at Maktesh Ramon — Ramon Crater — which is just out in front of the hostel. It is quite impressive, though it is quite hazy tonight. I don’t know where all the haze in Israel is from. It can’t be moisture in the air, as it is so dry here. Also just outside the security fence of the hostel there are three Ibex browsing on the foliage of some irrigated plantings.

Pretty much everything in Israel has a security fence, and an armed guard. Hostels, hotels, malls, restaurants, pretty much any public place. Some towns and villages even have gates coming into and leaving town, with armed security guards. We also get checked out by nearly every cop that goes by on the road. None have ever stopped to talk to us, but almost all of them slow down for a good look. Security is serious business here.

We are staying two nights here. I am not sure what we are going to do tomorrow; I’ve left that up to Jodi as she wasn’t feeling all that strong today. Hopefully she was just a bit dehydrated and will be back in form tomorrow.


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