We stopped at Timna Valley Park on our way to our next stop after Jordan. Timna Valley Park is a national park in Israel’s Negev desert. What is supposed to be so special is that it is the home to the world’s oldest copper mines. The park is noted for its natural sandstone formations, including King Solomon’s Pillars, the “Mushroom,” and the “Arches.” The copper mines are at least 6,000 years old. Excavations from 1959 to 1990 allowed archaeologists to reconstruct the history of the copper mines from 4,000 BCE to the Middle Ages. (wikipedia) That is all very impressive to read and for some it might be. Perhaps it was the heat but we just drove through the park quickly and got out to see the highlight as mentioned above. We also saw hieroglyphs and a movie about the mining period.
We found the Succah in the Desert on the Internet when looking for someplace to stay in Mitzpe Ramon. This is for the adventurous. If you need a hairdryer or king-sized bed, don’t even think about it. But if you want a really neat experience, then this is it.
A Succah is the Biblical term for a dwelling that is not permanent. Jews wandered for 40 years and as they did so they lived in Succot (the plural).
We were told to get there during the day. This is a must even if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle. The road is just barely a road and – well – let’s just say seeing the road in the dark would be difficult at best.
We were greeted by a couple who were the caretakers of Succah in the Desert. The owners were out of the country. We lucked into meeting this most interesting couple. I would suspect that you would find the owners just as interesting and hospitable.
We saw the showers on the way out and were impressed with the fact they looked like regular showers. Succah in the Desert is run via solar energy.
We were taken to our Succah, and saw that it was made of soft materials like wood, fabric and palm leaves. Each Succah is a different size. We had a room with mat covered dirt floors and clean sheets. There was a kerosene heater, which we could have used since it gets cold in the desert but we didn’t use it. Our succah had a small light and candles and a tea kettle so we could make tea. Outside was a large urn with water which was used to wash up.
So the bathroom you ask? I actually never used it but I saw it and my husband used it. Guests are asked to make number ones outside, which was fine since we were the only ones there. The Succot are not next to each other. They are about 164 yards. In any case there is a toilet with a plastic bag and sand so after nature calls you put sand in the bag. My husband said it was very clean.
A gong called us to dinner at 7:30p.m. in the Main Succah. It is a very large and cozy space where the four of us had meals together. All meals are vegetarian and homemade. We had bread, lentil soup, an Indian dish, an eggplant dish and homemade cake.
In addition to this one named Abraham the eight other Succot are named in honor of our Jewish roots – Sarah, Rivka, Leah, Rachel, Jacob, Isaac, moadim, and Eliezer. The Succah in the Desert is not predominantly Jewish religious oriented. They welcome and embrace all peace loving traditions. Their aim is to provide a peaceful oasis where all may feel a genuine coming home. They do a great job of that.
We had flashlights to help us get back to our Succot but truth be told we got disoriented and it took way too long for us to find our way- as in we were starting to get nervous. Eventually we found our Succah because we recognized the star-shaped one near ours.
The gong beckoned us at 8:30a.m and we had tea/coffee/yogurt, cottage cheese, various jams, and eggs. There are fruit trees and roosters so some of the items were literally right from the land.
The Succah in the Desert was a wonderful experience.