Monday, November 9, 2015


Eilat is a strange city. There is the eastern half with residential areas and industrial zones, and the western half with most of the big hotels, the marina, and the beaches. They are divided by the airport runway, making it awkward to go from one side to the other. The arrangement also means that all the hotels are in the flight path of the airport.

The residential parts of Eilat are nice and green, but outside the desert begins and doesn't end for a very long time. They have a network of hiking paths there that I was using in the morning. The trouble with deserts is, once you have seen a small part of one, you have pretty much seen it all. It's surprisingly colorful; the red rock is what gave the Red Sea its name.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Petra in Jordan was the center of the Nabatean culture, abandoned in the 7th century after an earthquake. It's built mostly in and above an extremely narrow two-kilometer canyon that is in some places no more than a few meters wide. Except that the city wasn't built, it was carved, like a sculpture: start with a rock face and chisel away everything that isn't part of the design, top-down, inside and out, in great detail.

The Treasury, the most well-known building (carving?), is where Indiana Jones has found the Holy Grail in his last crusade (first picture). Oddly, the movie doesn't show the hordes of tourists doing selfies, the tables of the souvenir vendors with their identical trinkets, the horse buggy operators with their electrical cables for whips zooming through the crowds, and the coffee and snack containers all over the place. Despite all this, the magic is still there. The city is much larger than I expected.