Alan has ridden away and I'm getting ready to head out as well. He'll ride from a nearby junction (doing a bit of back tracking) all the way down to Eilat. My group will be bused to Timna -the site of some ancient copper mines-- to do some touring on mountain bikes. Then we'll meet up with the rest of the riders for lunch and all head down into Eilat together.
One blessing of this trip has been the daily davening/praying. An irony of living in Jerusalem this year has been the marked absence of a daily prayer community for me. But both Alan and I have made it to morning prayers every day of the ride and it's been nice to have our little traveling group praying together. This morning, looking at the mountains over in Jordan, coming to the prayer that
focuses on gratitude, I felt particularly grateful for all the people who have supported us on this ride --the staff here, but also all the friends and family members and colleagues who gave the donations that made this journey possible.
Here at Ketura, we've gotten to meet students of the Arava Institute and hear about the work they are doing. One theme that many students expressed --Israeli, American, Palestinian and Jordanian-- was that they came primarily for the environmental studies, but have been most transformed by the social aspect: building a learning community based on co-existence. Being able to meet the people who benefit from the funds we raised makes a big difference!
I've also very much enjoyed the touring I've been able to do by only riding half-days. On Thursday (which seems like a year ago), we met a man named Haji Ibrahim. He is a communal leader in an unrecognized Bedouin village. The village doesn't receive any support from the government and is placed dangerously close to a number of toxic sites. He is very concerned aboout the health impacts on his community and had a number of very sad stories to share. He welcomed us warmly to the village and shared coffee he had ground himself and tea whose every herb he picked and described in detail.
Yesterday, I visited Kibbutz Lotan, a community associated with the Reform movement. This trip has definitely re-ignited long-dormant fantasies of kibbutz life. Much more to tell, but the bus is leaving soon.
God willing, this afternoon, we'll be swimming in the Red Sea!