When British guy and I first started hanging out, I was living in the West Bank and he was living in Israel. What can I say? It's complicated. In order to get to Tel Aviv to see him, I had to cross the checkpoint and take 3-4 different buses. The distance between us was roughly 70 kilometers (43 miles), but it usually took around 3 and a half hours...if everything went smoothly. Unless you're British guy and you decide to cycle to Bethlehem. Then it takes longer, but you get bonus points for the shock value Israeli soldiers experience while watching you cycle through a checkpoint.
At one point, British guy--being the social and outgoing person that he is--decided that it would be fun to rent a car and drive out to the Negev to go to a party in the desert. I was all for the party (It would be dark. Nobody would see me dancing), and I was fine with the renting the car bit too until I realized that it was going to be me renting and then subsequently driving the car.
For some reason even though I had lived abroad before, I had never rented or driven a car in a foreign country. I thought of Tel Aviv. Of its chaotic driving and crowded streets. I thought of driving in Tel Aviv. I panicked. But this was before I had become comfortable having a nervous breakdown in front of British guy so I swallowed my apprehension and happily agreed. After all, it would mean a weekend in the Negev with British guy.
At it turns out, I'm a surprisingly okay driver in other countries. I didn't kill or maim anyone and the car remained happily intact and without any scratches.
|Our trusty little car. Thanks, Avis!|
So we headed out into the desert, British guy explaining the geography of the region and me cheerfully encouraging the little car through hour after hour of dramatic desert landscape. And then when we reached approximately the middle of nowhere, British guy decided that it was a good place for him to get out and cycle for a few hours. I drove. He cycled. I WIN! Although at the time, I was wishing that I had a bike so I could cycle too. But now I'm glad I didn't because I probably would have died and it's best to ease into those sort of things. In fact, the best place to learn how to cycle is on one of the most notorious climbs of the Tour de France. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
|Driving through the Negev. This is where British guy got out to cycle.|
We ended up at a place called the Shaharoot Guesthouse. I'm not sure what they've done with it now. This was last November and they were having a big party--one last hurrah-- before shutting the place down, but there was some ambiguity about what would happen with the place. Any Israelis out there know what happened to it? It's too bad if it did end up getting closed because it was a lot of fun.
The next day we drove/cycled down to Eilat, went swimming in the Red Sea, hung out on the beach, got a parking ticket, drove halfway back, found a big empty plateau overlooking the Negev and decided that that looked like a good place to set up camp.
|Driving through the Negev|
We had a bottle of wine, a camp stove and some pasta. I was looking forward to drinking wine while staring up at the stars. But I should have known better. After spending many a camping trip in Joshua Tree National Park, I should know that the desert in November at night (especially a high desert) is the equivalent of an ice box with wind.
British guy had a tent that was designed to comfortably fit 0.5 people. They said two. Fair enough. But you should know that if you plan on fitting two people in a 0.5 person tent with one sleeping bag, you're going to end up sleeping on top of one another. You know what? I don't like where this is going. Let's go back to the weather. It was cold. Freezing. Even by a normal person's standards. If you don't believe me, go find your closest desert and spend a night out there in November. That'll show you. Suckers!
So back to the part where I wanted to sit outside, sipping wine, and staring at the stars. Which is all well and good, except that it was freezing. However, I am a very stubborn person. I once sat at a dining room table until 2 in the morning because my Dad said I couldn't get down until I finished my dinner, and dammit I didn't want to finish it so I sat there for nearly 8 hours. I've grown less fussy about food, but have still remained stubborn and this time I was hell bent on enjoying the stars while sipping wine. I didn't care if I froze to death.
Well, as it turns out I did care and I am far less stubborn when it is below freezing. If only my Dad had known that trick.
I hastily retreated to the tent. I slept for about 2 hours before I heard sounds. Being a rational person, I jumped to the most logical conclusion. That conversation went something like this:
Me: British guy!
Me: Do you hear the rabid coyotes outside the tent?
BG: [instantly awake] what?*
Me: Well, it might be mice getting into our food. But it could also be rabid coyotes. You should go check.
British guy gets out of the tent and goes out into the subzero temperatures to check for rabid coyotes. I would have done it, but he's British and his sense of honor--excuse me, honour--would not let a fair maiden (um, me) go out and check for rabid coyotes. Just kidding. I didn't even offer. It was f@&%*$ cold outside!
Turns out it was just the wind. But it really sounded like mice. Or coyotes.
I should note that I have a history of making British guy get up to go check on what I am sure is either a) a serial killer; b) rabid coyotes; or c) a ghost. It's usually always the wind.
But better safe than sorry, right? At least that's what I always say after waking British guy up and making him feel obligated to get out of bed to go and see what imminent danger is lurking in the corners. One of these days it will be rabid coyotes and then he'll thank me for being so alert. Or he'll be attacked by rabid coyotes, in which case he probably won't be too thrilled that I made him get out of bed.
*Actually, he probably said something like "I beg your pardon." He's more cultured and polite than I am and doesn't rudely demand "WHAT?!" of people who shake him awake to check for coyotes.