After an early-morning hike up Masada in the Negev Desert and a camel ride, we drove down to the Dead Sea. We drove in a seemingly endless spiral, and just as I felt like I was going to hurl - we stopped! It takes a lot to get to the lowest point on Earth, haha.
I heard some pretty horrific things about the Dead Sea salt permeating your skin and various orifices, so I just walked in to my knees. I forgot my sandals, and walking into the water was not the wisest of moves. I mean, you see a pile of salt and you think, 'if I step on this, it will crumble' - because it's salt. Well, logic does not prevail at the Dead Sea, where rock-hard salt mounds are like unmoving sandpaper blades grinding into your flesh.
So, did I sell you on the Dead Sea? Yes, it was beautiful and I would recommend a visit, but I would not recommend going in. That's just me.
The weather was great for about thirty minutes, and in that time I took some nice photos! We also stumbled upon some other Birthright Israel Shorashim groups, like this one from Tunisia.
That night we made it to the Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall, and the weather turned from rain to hail. I was told that the Western Wall is usually so crowded you can barely see or touch it, but the weather was a blessing in disguise; so few people wanted to stand in the cold rain that the wall was wide open...
The next day we visited Israel's military cemetery, Har (Mount) Herzl. Here, soldiers and military personnel of all ranks are buried side by side. The grounds are beautiful and graves are covered in memorabilia that family and friends have brought to honor their loved ones.
Upon entering the cemetery, we were asked what we think of when we think 'Memorial Day.' Someone said 'barbecues' and a few other summer-themed, fun activities. I said, "Big sales!" because, of course, in America, every holiday is just a celebration of capitalism. The Israelis laughed and thought it was strange, and told us that their Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron, is a day of memory and education. All businesses are closed and the TV shares documentaries and news about fallen soldiers. If you're in the military at the time, you will take a field trip to the cemetery and spend your day learning about the life of an individual, fallen soldier. It sounds a lot like how a memorial day - a day of remembrance of fallen soldiers - should be characterized.
After the cemetery, we headed to Shuk Machane Yehuda, or Machane Yehuda Market, for food and more shopping. I bought tissues, of course, because that's apparently my mainstay accessory. I also caught the best pet photo ever, so there's that...