I spent this past weekend on the last OSP (Overseas Student Program) trip of the semester. We spent the time in the Negev and learning about the Negev.
We started the morning on Friday at Sde Boker, the place where David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister lived a good part of his life. It is the location of a lot of research into him and into the Negev. We learned about some of the decisions David Ben-Gurion made and watched a new movie they had made. We also discussed Israeli perceptions of the Negev and how the have (or haven't) changed through film. I saw David Ben-Gurion's grave (coming full circle from the first weekend I was in Israel and our visit to Ben-Gurion's home and grave then). Last Wednesday was David Ben-Gurion Day and there were a number of wreaths still on his grave.
We did a hike in the maktesh - the large crater - next to Mitzpe Ramon. The beginning was a bit steep/difficult but it was mostly a nice walk. It was a good time. At the end, we realized that the area we were walking in was a firing zone for the military, so I'm assuming we had permission to be there, but who knows. My friend Josh and I pretended to hitchhike in the desert for a picture, but the first car that came by actually stopped. hehe.
The place we stayed in Mitzpe Ramon, whose name I don't remember, was in a wharehouse that is now a dance studio/hippie hangout. They had low couches around tables for eating and we slept in sort of "mud huts" on mattresses on the ground in a large room in the wharehouse. They were a vegetarian place and the food was really good.
After dinner, we did an acrobatics class. We did different stretches and crazy stuff on ropes attached to the ceiling and cloth ropes attached to the ceiling.
Saturday, we did a meditation like thing and walked for an hour or so in the desert without speaking. We then buried each other with rocks. One person laid down and the other covered him with rocks in a premeditated order and then took them off and placed them in a circle around him, a stack, etc. Then we switched. After that we sat in a circle and passed rocks around and all kinds of craziness.
After the meditation part, we walked to a lookout over the crater where we ate a late lunch. We were going to hike into the crater, but instead walked around the top of the crater in a few directions and hung out, looking out over the crater and the desert.
Later, a few of us went to see the sunset in the desert. It was pretty, but disturbed with a lot of clouds in the sky.
See pictures here.