When a border crossing forces you one kilometer north of the Red Sea, you’d better take advantage.
When a bus ride takes you along the coast of the Dead Sea, you’d better take advantage.
When both happen on the same journey, you’d better put on your swimsuit and shades, and get ready for some busy beach days!

A taxi from Petra dropped us off at the border in Aqaba Jordan and we patiently waited while Ben endured heavy questioning crossing back into Israel.
Why did an American living in France want to cross from Jordan to Israel? How is religion playing a part in this trip? What religion are you? What religion is your sister? How long have you two known each other?
Ben justified his presence and answered each question honestly. Except the last, that was a tough one.. ummm, 28 years?? 29? I don’t know.. how old are you? He asked me jokingly.
While Ben dealt with more serious matters, I was left justifying my adult coloring book. Intricate mandala patterns to color in as a form of relaxation, Mom had sent it to me through Ben’s address for Christmas. A border patrol agent unpacked my bag and stopped when she came to the book. She nearly smiled at the site of it, then wiped the smile away. Just as I began to turn fifty shades of red, she looked at me and said, “It’s okay. I have one too.”

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We crossed on a Saturday, which means the vast majority of Israelites are observing Shabbat. Buses weren’t to run from Eilat to Jerusalem until late afternoon, so we decided instead to stay in town for the day and take a bus north the next morning.

After sharing two taxi rides and meeting twice within Petra’s boundaries, we parted ways with our fellow Minnesota traveler at the Jordan-Israel border. Avoiding a five-minute 120NIS ($40usd) taxi ride to city center, we walked through a nature preserve and desalination complex. Dodging electric fences and strange lanes mechanically pulsing in order to create potable water, we hiked over an hour. The desert’s winter sun beat down upon us, met with a sign of satisfaction when we reached our final destination.

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We dropped off our bags, amazed at the huge room we’d somehow secured, complete with two doubles and a single bed, fridge, television, and plenty of tables. The best living twenty euro could buy.

During a trip to rejuvenate with hot water and instant coffee near the front desk, the cleaner shared with me an immense love for her city. Visitors are always happy, locals are always happy, and being far from the rest of Israel’s major cities leads to a feeling of secluded paradise, palm trees and ocean sprays blowing in the breeze all year long. As she put it, “Everyone wants to visit, no one wants to leave… and for those of us who do stay… we’re trapped by desert and sea and choose not to find a way out.”

After a few minutes of walking past seaside restaurants and white plastic beach chairs filled with sunbathers and flirting couples, her words became truth. Why would anyone want to leave here? The Red Sea’s warm air stays isolated thanks to Jordan’s eastward mountains, and relaxation was key to enjoyment in Eilat. Once you’re there, you’d better plan on kicking up your feet and staying awhile.

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That is, unless you’ve got another sea calling your name. After just one night in Eilat, Israel, we reluctantly escaped the tropical kingdom and wound north to Ein Gedi. An early morning bus took us once again past the salty shores of the Dead Sea and past date trees getting ready to produce fruits in the new season. Last year, I’d found a beach in Jordan on the Dead Sea which charged an arm and a leg for a two minute photo op and the use of a locker room with no running water to wash the slick salt from my skin. This time, I’d managed to find a free beach directly on the bus route with outdoor showers, changing stations, and restaurants nearby if we grew hungry from all the splish-splashing around.

It was the perfect place for a swim. Once our bodies got used to the bone chilling waters, we were able to relax for so long that I began to wonder if we’d absorbed enough salt to permanently become our own flotation devices.

We floated, photographed, and found ourselves in true holiday mode. After rinsing of two, three, four times, we dressed back up in our winter coats and boots and boarded another bus to Tel Aviv for our final night in Israel. Tomorrow, we’d be flying away over the Mediterranean to an island country split in half by two controlling parties. It sounds much like Israel, but would bring with it new experiences for our final few days together. And you bet we once again took advantage!


  1. This is great. Feel like we were there too. Grandma and Larry. Love u On Jan 21, 2016 7:05 AM, “Miss Maps and Marvels” wrote:

    > Miss Maps posted: “When a border crossing forces you one kilometer north > of the Red Sea, you’d better take advantage. When a bus ride takes you > along the coast of the Dead Sea, you’d better take advantage. When both > happen on the same journey, you’d better put on your swims” >


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