(Masada in the Dead Sea, Isreal)
Way back in August of 2008 Dima and I travelled to Israel for our summer vacation. Between driving to different cities and swimming in different bodies of water Dima and I decided to climb something. For those who don't know, like me, Masada is a fortress constructed by King Herod the Great in the Dead Sea. It later became a refuge for the last survivors of the Jewish revolt, who chose death over slavery when the Romans broke through their defences. It is a powerful symbol to Jewish people and a popular travel destination. You can choose to either climb the snake path, the Roman ramp or pay to take the gondola up. We chose the winding snake path.
(Dima pointing to the orange juice stand)
The snake path is so steep and winding it can be hard to believe that people climbed it while carrying building supplies and food and drink. It was climbing Masada that Dima and I realized that we were not in as good of shape as we realized. We had to stop frequently to rest and drink water and frequently passed by other climbers. We were even passed by a father and two children and he was carrying one of those kids. We climbed about three quarters of the way up Masada and we realized we couldn't go any further. My fair skin was burning to a crisp; Dima had hit a delirious state and could only talk about the orange juice stand we passed at the base of Masada and going down seemed easier than going up. So we went back down.
Climbing down was still pretty hard. We still had to stop and take water breaks but with promises of buying an extra large orange juice and air conditioning we made it to the bottom. We rested, drank a lot of orange juice and explored the Dead Sea Valley in our ugly rental with air condition on full. We returned to Masada a few hours later and shamefully took the gondola up and explored the ruins of the fortress. I will be back to climb the snake path in its entirety, maybe I’ll carry some building materials up while I’m at it.