Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Final Taxi Ride

There is a joke that goes: How do you get to Mitzpe Ramon?
Drive to the end of the world and turn right...and that is just how you do get to Mitzpe Ramon.

This joke has probably been told about every place that is remote and seems unattractive. Mitzpe Ramon is certainly remote, and since most Israelis experience it through their military training, it probably feels unattractive to them. In any case, it does seem like you are driving forever to get there. It is over two hours from Ben Gurion airport, a long drive in Israel for most people, and the desert just magnifies the distance and isolation.

Our taxi soon gets onto Israel's only toll road, Highway 6, heading south. It passes one of my favorite sights, the giant concrete factory that is visible from miles away. The mass of tubes, chimneys and conveyors gives it an other-worldly appearance.

The concrete factory on Highway 6, south of the airport

It is winter in Israel, the time of the rainy season, and the vineyards and orchards are beginning to bloom.

Signs guide us off Highway 6 and onto Route 40, the only road to Mitzpe Ramon. We are familiar with this route, having driven it in the summer when we were last here helping our daughter move from Be'er Sheva to Mitzpe Ramon and doing our own apartment hunting.

We pass a peloton of bikers on an overpass, and later this lone biker on the road. This is more bikers than we have ever seen on Israeli roads so perhaps biking is on the increase. I am a big biking fan so I hope so. I have numerous friends in Englewood who are serious bikers and love to bike in the Mitzpe Ramon area.

Nabatean ruins are visible along the highway where the Spice Road used to run 20 centuries ago between Baghdad and Jaffa.

We pass by a new forest on the outskirts of Be'er Sheva, Israeli's fourth largest city and an hour from the airport. We still have over an hour of driving ahead of us to get to Mitzpe Ramon.

High cirrus clouds are the predominant cloud cover this time of year in the desert.

As we drive I become aware of a metronomic ticking that has accompanied us the whole way. It is so regular you could play a Mozart sonata to it. After a few minutes I realize it is Spot, panting in his kennel in the back of the car. He usually gets excited when in the car and begins panting, but I have never heard him like this.

As the maximum security Ramon Prison heaves into view, we realize we have only five more miles to our destination.

Just outside of Mitzpe, one of my favorite sights, the Wise Astronomical Observatory with new IDF trainig facilities on the plain below. I hope the base doesn't add too much light pollution to the pristine skies here.

After 2+ hours on the road, we finally reach the end of the world and turn right. Our apartment building greets us, but the moving boxes are packed so high and deep inside that as of this date, over a week later, we still haven't been able to move in.

We see our grandson, YaYa, after a five month absence.

And we move in next door with Chavie and Donny while the unpacking is done. Spot, exhausted but no worse for the wear, immediately falls asleep and will not be heard from for almost two days.

All's Well that Ends Well

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails