Friday, January 05, 2007

Mitzpeh Ramon and Machtesh Ramon

Our next stop was Mitzpeh Ramon, further south than I have ever been in Israel. Mitzpeh Ramon means "The Ramon View", a small town built on the edge of a cliff ringing Machtesh Ramon, the Ramon Crater. The Ramon Crater is another enormous crater, formed by geological processes similar to the formation of Machtesh Gadol (the great crater) and Machtesh Katan (the little crater.) In this case, the crater is so vast that geologists were unaware that it even was a crater until they saw it in areal photographs.

We arrived in Mitzpeh Ramon at sunset.

A view of the Mitzpeh Ramon Observatory.

The clear air, high elevation, and low light produced in the surrounding uninhabited desert makes for a great view of the nighttime sky.

The two main sources of income for Mitzpeh Ramon are tourism (from people coming to see the enormous crater), and the Israeli Air Force base nearby.

Still, it's a sleepy town. Like many development towns, it's full of modern looking structures and carefully pruned public gardens, but the place has the feeling of Shabbat on a weekday night. No cars, very little foot traffic. You can walk in the middle of main street at noon and not have to worry about cars.

A somewhat blurry night time exposure of Mitzpeh Ramon. The big funnel thingee in the background is a water tank.

At 5 AM the next morning, we were all rustled up for Shacharit, morning prayers. We wanted to get an early start on the day and had not time to waste. Walking towards the shul, which is next to the lip of the crater, I took a few minutes to photograph the sunrise.

More Shacharit
After Shacharit and breakfast, we returned for an official tour.

Some guy reading a book at the lip of the crater.

Our tourguide explains. The man in the Obiwan Kenobi hood is Rav Listman, director of the English department.

The overlook.

Yours truly on the edge. It was friggin' freezing!

There is one relieving factor about life in Mitzpeh Ramon; it is the only place I know of in Israel where there is no conflict. You can stand in Tel Aviv and see the hills of Samaria, the "West Bank", always in dispute. You can stand in the north and see Syria and Lebanon, not exactly friendly countries. In my apartment, I look out my window to a concrete wall. But here, in Mitzpeh Ramon, you can look in all directions and see nothing but Israel.

1 comment:

the sabra said...

breathtaking photos
thanks for postin em