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HOW I MISSED SLEEPING WITH THE BEDOUIN: A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

Rhonda Spivak, October 11, 2012

This is a sequel to my story Nancy Klein and Cheryl Hechter Raphaeli stay at Ein Gedi Youth Hostel: A Night to Remember. http://www.winnipegjewishreview.com/article_detail.cfm?id=2932&sec=2&title=Nancy_Klein_and_Cheryl_Hechter_[Raphaeli]_stay_at_Ein_Gedi_Youth_Hostel:_A_Night_to_Remember_ .
 
A friend of mine was organizing a group trip for a group of Winnipeggers who were having their children bar and bat mitzvahed in Jerusalem.
 
My own family joined that trip for two days in Jerusalem when the group was staying at the Dan Boutique Hotel, (a very lovely hotel and good choice).
 
From there the group was going to sleep in a Bedouin encampment in the Negev, nestled in shady Palm trees, where my friend assured me there would be a variety of suitable choices in terms of accommodations, from which my family could choose.
 
These choices included the following:
 
1. Sleeping in a private Bedouin Succah Like Tent with ensuite bathroom
 
2. Sleeping in private Bedouin Sukkah Like Tent with aging goat. (Bathroom to be negotiated on arrival)
 
3. Sleeping in Private Bedouin Sukkah Like Tent with a little lamb (to be roasted for breakfast the next day), or with small family of close knit sheep, or ram (with horns to be made into Shofar as souvenir). (Bathroom also to be negotiated on arrival).
 
4. Sleeping in multi-family Bedouin Sukkah Like Tent with semi-private bathroom, near unknown number of camels.

5. Sleeping under a camel ("You pay per hump").

6. Sleeping under a camel with an upset stomach.

7. Sleeping in large group Beduin Sukkah like Tent with additional others to be defined on arrival. 

8. Sleeping in multi-family Sukkah like Tent near row of asses (i.e. otherwise known as mules or donkeys)

9. Sleeping in Single Family hotel Like Free Standing Unit (not a Sukkah) with functioning air-conditioning and other first class amenities.
 
Now I have traveled with this friend extensively before in 1986 when we traveled through Europe together -- enough to know that option #9 (the Single Family Hotel Like Unit with air-conditioning and first class amenities) could well prove to be illusory.

 Even if such a unit existed, I had my doubts about how well that promised air-conditioning in a Bedouin encampment would work in what would likely be 38-40 degrees Celsius.

In my minds eye, I had images of  Winnipeggers on  camels with a large swords roving around the Negev dessert like Laurence of Arabia. 

My family decided that we would opt out of the excursion (albeit it, sleeping in a multi-family tent sounded so romantic!).

Sure enough, a day or two before the group was set to arrive, I learned that there had been some sort of mix-up and they had oversold the number of number of private air-conditioned units such that these units were not in fact available to the Winnipeg group afterall.

The moral of this story: Think twice when someone promises you air-conditioning at a Bedouin encampment. And remember that the Ein Gedi Youth Hostel is always nearby.

* alas since writing this article I have since found out that there was another option provided to those who decided they rather not sleep in a non-airconditioned---they were shuttled (I'm not sure if it was by camel or donkey or both) to a hotel in Arad some eight kilometers away. And you guessed it, tourism to Arad trippled overnight.

 
 
 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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