roland@equalpartners.ca
http://EqualPartners.ca/

Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCXCIX. A Return Visit (14 of 19)

Eilat

It was late when we arrived at Eilat; therefore, we went straight to our hotel, the Caesar; a luxurious hotel with a stunning marble lobby and a verandah.  My room was large and tastefully furnished.  A basket of fruits and wine awaited me; the fruits proved great as a snack, but the wine was returned while making sure to express my appreciation for their thoughtful gesture.

Supper and breakfast were included.  Supper was a beautiful buffet which included a large variety of dishes; but as usual I settled for something simple:  Spaghetti with meat sauce and a green salad.  The breakfast spread was heartwarming; but I only had cheese, a toast with jam, and orange juice.  Mind you it was 6:30 AM, and at that time of day I am barely sentient, never mind hungry!

Eilat is the nation southernmost city, and its only port on the Red Sea.  It relies mainly on tourism.  For thousands of Israelis, Europeans, and North American tourists, this is a secular and trendy city whose only religion is to enjoy the sun and the sea during the day and the nightlife after 11:00 PM.  For those of us that hunger for infinite horizons that can only be satisfied by desert treks, the desert beckons.

Eilat can get very hot especially in the summer; thus siestas are not an option; indeed the heat brings the city to a virtual standstill.

The Arab Neighbors are Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia; the political heat is therefore part of Eilat`s equation.  The other side of the coin, is that Eilat`s proximity to Egypt and Jordan (two nations that are less hostile towards Israel, now that a peace agreement has been concluded) makes it a convenient passageway to these two nations.

Tourists do not come to Eilat for its long history, but it does have one.  In Deuteronomy 2:8 Eilat is cited along with the town of Ezion-geber.  King Solomon used Eilat as a shipyard and port.  The Romans had a port named Aila or Aelana.  After them came the Crusaders, Saladin, the Crusaders again, the Mamelukes, and the Ottomans.  After WWI, Eilat came under the British Mandate, and in 1949 it became a part of Israel.

In addition to a quick tour of the city, we visited Coral World and the Marine Aquarium.  Coral World is an excellent introduction into the complex ecosystem of the coral reef; it allows you to view the fish without going under water; put another way, it`s akin to scuba diving while keeping dry!

The Marine Aquarium includes an aquarium, and pools for sharks and turtles.  As well, there is a below sea level underwater glass observatory where one can view the marine life.  Here again you`re enjoying an experience equivalent to scuba diving without having to go under water.

Finally there is a so called Yellow Submarine which takes you 60 meters down for a unique view of the Red Sea; it`s expensive and was not part of the tour.

Really all of the above accomplish more or less the same thing:  getting up close and personal with marine life.  It`s the attractions you’d expect for you`re in Eilat after all.

Our next destination after Eilat was Timna Park.

Timna Park

This is the location of the so-called King Solomon’s copper mines; how the name of that King became associated with these mines is not clear; archeological evidence indicates that the mines were exploited long before his reign, and long after; indeed the mines closed only in 1976, when the yield no longer justified the cost and effort.  But a different use was found; the ore, which sometimes occurs in the form of semi-precious green malachite, is still in demand, and is referred to as the Eilat Stone.

Timna Valley, which spreads over 60 Square Kilometers, offers, in addition to the mines, a lot to its visitors.  It’s full of colorful sandstones formation resembling mushrooms and arches.

King Solomon’s Pillars are two natural sandstone columns standing side by side, they are 165 feet high.

An Egyptian temple from the late bronze ages stands beside the columns, and wall painting of animals from earlier ages.

The area has campground facilities and a restaurant on the man-made Timna Lake.

On the way back, we went all along the Dead Sea and stopped at Sodom (the lowest place on earth).

Sodom

78 kilometers southeast of Beersheva is Sodom, the very city which due to the unspeakable sins of its inhabitants has incurred God’s fire and brimstone wrath. The bible tells us that only Lot and his family were allowed to escape before the city and its inhabitants were destroyed.  Once the destruction started they were instructed not to look back, but Lot’s wife did and was turned into a pillar of salt.  This area is rich in salt, and the biblical tale should therefore be taken with a grain of salt!

We visited the Sodom Mountain which is 98% salt.  There are beautiful caves formed by water dissolving the salt, but we saw it at a distance since the danger of avalanches is very real.  The Dead Sea Works (see below) used to have a camp (now deserted) to house its workers, and near the camp is a salt rock formation that in jest was dubbed by the workers as “Lot’s Wife.”

A while back it was suggested to turn Sodom into a casino/night club/strip joint establishment; the idea was to promote tourism; but the Chief Rabbinate quickly vetoed this foolish idea on the ground that there was nothing to prevent God from wrecking the city a second time!

The Dead Sea Works is a large industrial complex that extracts from the existing elements salt, potash, chlorine, and bromide for profitable exports.

Kikar Sodom or Sodom Plains (which was just pointed out by our guide) are full of salt marshes, springs, and lush vegetation.  Its beauty calls for a special visit if time permits.

Before driving back home, we stopped at a kibbutz for a late lunch; since we were close to the Dead Sea, we were given the option to go for a dip; some of us took the guide up on his offer, as for me, I have had my dip when I first visited the Dead Sea, and therefore stayed on the bus to catch a nap.

Coming back, I was told by Aunt Angéle that Michael had returned and simply stolen the show.  With the exception of aunt Angéle, he had never met my family, and they simply fell in love with him.  The feeling was mutual, and Michael still talks about that encounter.

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