The Snake Path

Snake Path

The blazing noon sun beat down on us as we ascended the daunting Snake Path slithering up the side of Masada. After hiking a third of the way up the exhausting trail, we spotted a covered picnic table and sat down under its shade for a water break.  I took off my ball cap and let the wind whip through my sticky hair and cool my damp forehead.

The view before me was captivating. The remains of a Roman garrison marked the desert below. The Dead Sea, which looked more like a river, lined the horizon before me, and the Jordanian hills loomed in the distance. To my right were the sulphuric remains of the destroyed cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. After catching our breath, we tore ourselves away from the view and continued our trek.

We weren’t the only hikers on the trail that day. People from all over the world–Germany, England, and France– traversed the infamous Snake Path with us. Some of the passersby spoke English, enabling Dad to strike up a conversation with them.

Near the end, the trail changed from an inclined path to full-fledged steps. My legs were burning from fatigue and my clothes were sticking to my perspiring body. We indulged in a short break, took a few sips of water, and continued prodding up the dusty steps terracing the side of Masada. We could see the end, yet the stairs kept winding in a seemingly endless zigzag.

Finally, we staggered over the last step and collapsed onto benches under a pavillion. The top of Masada hummed with activity. Tour groups paraded the historic plateau, viewing the ancient storage rooms, cisterns, and baths. A noisy band played Israeli folk music nearby.
Since Dad and I had toured Masada on a previous trip, we were soon ready to leave. Dad proposed that we ride the cable cars down to the visitor center. I balked, “If we hiked up, we are going to hike back down!” Dad reluctantly consented, and we began our descent.

I practically flew down the sloping path. Since there were no railings along most of the trail, I attempted to slow myself to a sensible pace. We had made it back to the start of the trail in about a third of the time it had taken us to hike up. Exhausted, we covered the short distance to the visitor center, anticipating the delightful greeting of air conditioning.

May 2013
Revised: August 2013

The Kotel Overlook

Wailing Wall (Kotel)

The sun was sloping toward to the west as Dad and I read the psalms at one of our favorite vantage points in Jerusalem, the Kotel overlook. An elderly woman sitting on the bench across from us echoed the peaceful undertone of our surroundings with her pleasant smile at me. Turning my gaze toward the railed overlook, I observed silent onlookers inhaling the beauty before them. Joining the observers at the railing, I too stood captivated by the view before me. There, parallel to me, stood the Kotel with a faithful number of men and women gathered in reverent prayer. No longer was the Kotel only a sacred landmark so often heard about, it was before my own eyes and locked in my heart forever.

 March, 2012

The Promise Land

The Promise Land

When I think of one of my favorite memories from my trip to Israel, I am swept back in time to the final leg of our lengthy flight from America to Israel . As we soared over the Mediterranean Sea, the flight attendants moved mechanically down the two aisles of the airplane, lifting all the window blinds — a sure sign that we would soon be landing. Situated in the back of the sparsely filled Israeli airplane, I anticipated our approaching arrival to Israel.  After three layovers and what seemed like days of flying, a strange mixture of excitement and exhaustion swirled inside me. I was awestruck by the massive cumulus clouds, fluffy and as white as snow, that hid the sea beneath us as we bobbed through them. In my mind I could almost hear my little sister, Sharon, exclaiming over the magnificent clouds. Oh! How I missed my family already! Anxiously, I peered through the hazy window for the first sight of land.  All of a sudden, the encumbering clouds parted, revealing my first glimpse of Israel. My eyes locked on the small strip of land, barely visible through the clouds, as it reached up and squeezed my heart. Tears of joy welled in my eyes as I, at long last, beheld the Promise Land.

February 2012