Not too much to report today. Every tour has a necessary travel day, in this case we left Petra about 8:30 and drove to the Arava Border crossing to return to Israel. The drive was uneventful, except for a short bathroom break at a new shop with very clean restrooms. The passage through the Jordanian was quick and easy (you pay the money they let you through), but the Israeli side involved a lengthy bag inspection, about 75% of our group had to open their bags and the search was quick thorough. Our 11:00 AM appointment with the bus driver slipped by and it was more than two hours to get everyone through. It might be frustrating but I appreciate the extreme care for safte and security, as well as the generally friendly people digging through our filthy clothes to check out water bottles filled with Sea of Galilee water.
The only event on the agenda was a swim in the Red Sea at a place called Coral Beach. This is on the national parks pass, so entrance was paid for, but snorkeling gear cost about $10 to rent. About half the group snorkeled, the rest waded into the water in the one or two open swim areas. Several sat in the shade and read a book (my favors option at th beach). Although the day was hot, there was a steady breeze. This made for a very pleasant day at the beach.
From the beach we drove north to Tamar, an archaeology site set up with campers for overnight stays. It is a very rustic site (especially compared to the fancy hotels we have been staying at), but few tours stay this far in the desert on a real archeological site. The down side is that it was about 115 degrees today. That will drop considerably tomorrow, but we really felt the heat when we arrived at 6:00 pm. Even by nine it was still quite warm.
Tamar has a meeting area (called the Souk) were we gathered to talk about our trip. After a few comments along the lines of “wow, now I know why those Israelites complained so much), we got into an interesting discussion about the cultural differences between Israel and Jordan, it also Islam (as we experienced it in Jordan) and Christianity in America. I hope to keep is discussion going on the last few nights of the trip.
Tomorrow we will hit a few of the desert sites, Mamshit, Arad, and Masada. Our internet is slow here, so I will add some photographs later.