“It’s the sixth of November and I’m sun tanning!” my friend Ria exclaimed yesterday as we set between falls on a rappelling trip in the Judean desert.
We’d traveled with a group of international students to rappel hundreds of feet down jagged dessert cliffs in Qumran, the area where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
The point of this post is really not to brag about how I’m sunning abroad while everyone in Evanston is dreading further temperature plunges. I’m not that mean.
Earlier this week I shivered as I walked to class in the warmest coat I’d packed for Israel, wishing I’d had the foresight to stuff some rain boots into my already-overflowing suitcase this summer. After all, I though it never rained in Israel.
Jerusalem is one of the coldest places in Israel, and it’s unfortunately no longer the sunny season. However, Israel is so miniscule that driving less than an hour into the desert means a complete climate change. If I look southeast from a bunch of my friends’ apartment windows (not mine, I was gifted with the scenic view of a traffic circle) I can see the Jerusalem stone buildings transition into rolling desert hills. On clear days, I can even see the Dead Sea and Jordan—from an urban apartment window.
This country is small, and it always feels like it’s getting smaller. Last weekend my roommate had a friend from her hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada visit who had moved to Israel three years ago to serve in the army. I quickly realized she’d lead part of my high school trip. Connections like these are more than common in this country of seven million that’s roughly the size of New Jersey.