Motorcycle Explorer Issue 17 - Page 16

Travel Story: achinoam harel - israel

The sun was beginning to disappear, so I got back on my DR and continued through the desert mountains. Cliffs to my left, to the right the Dead Sea, its surface painted pink by the sun. A few days earlier I had mentioned on Facebook that I was going to travel in the Arava. One of my Facebook friends wrote me a message inviting me to stay the night at his father's house in the nearby village of Naot HaKikar. I was more than grateful to take him up on the offer, and so here I was a few days later, at a pepper factory at the edge of the village surrounded by dozens of workers sorting through hundreds of peppers of all shapes and colours. From between the machines emerged an elderly man with a huge white beard and over their drone I heard him yell "Another madwoman, huh? Well, well - welcome!"

Momo, the bearer of the white beard, made me a cup of tea with spearmint and sugar and then showed me to his house. It will never cease to amaze me how strangers, who do not know me and do not owe me a thing, give me a place to sleep for the night. But not just that! They also give me a large bed, a hot shower, a warm dinner. In the morning Momo brought me sunscreen, peppers and cookies for the way, and even showed me where the spare key was kept so that if I got stuck and he was not around I would have somewhere to sleep. But the most valuable thing he gave me was his stories - tales of his childhood, how he rolled from one side of the country to another side of the world, made a living, gambled, won, struggled, raised children and rejoiced in his lot.

Momo was very sceptical about my plan to ride alone through the desert. To be fair, he had a point. When he asked me where I planned to ride my answer was "any path going in the general direction of anywhere south of here". I know that is the sort of thing people raise their eyebrows at.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday morning, I drove the few hundred meters to the gate of the village, where a brown sign bearing the inscription "Amatzya River" stood, and left the tar road for some dirt. The road was mostly in good condition, apart from several sections of slippery marble-like stones. In one of those sections, the motorcycle began to dance between my hands. Every cell in my brain was screaming, "Do not fight with the handlebars! Whatever you do – don't fight with the handlebars!"

I managed to stop the motorcycle, heart pounding. Now every cell in my| brain was busy imagining what would happen if and when I fell here, in the middle of nowhere, broke a leg, broke the motorcycle…I pulled my phone out of my pocket - just as I thought, there was no hint of reception. If something really did happen, I would be in big trouble.

But then, suddenly, without the deafening sound of the motor in my ears, I noticed the beautiful silence of the desert. I got off the bike and looked around at the beauty, nature, and tranquillity that surrounded me. Just me and the motorcycle, and no one else. This is where paradise hides -just a few kilometres' off the main road.