After a long day we reach Taba. Despite the late hour we want to cross the border today. With the many exotic stamps in our passports (the one from Sudan the officer does not like in particular) the entry procedure takes more than 2 hours. While I sit at in front of the office I slowly realize that after almost 14 month I am finally leaving Africa. Then we get our passports back and can enter Israel.
It is already dark and we decide to go into town to the youth hostel. When we are told, that we should pay 37$ for a night in the dormitory we quickly turn around and go back to the beach where we put up our tents. This seems to be so common here that we hardly find a spot, so crowded is it.
after two and a half month cycling together, we have reached the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv Two and a half month Duncan and I have been cycling together with one goal: the reach the Mediterranean together. Once in Israel there is nothing anymore that can hold us back.
In 3 days we race across the Negev desert towards Tel Aviv. There a heavy storm (the first in Tel Aviv in 7 month) welcomes us. We don't care anymore but head straight for the coast. There it is the Mediterranean, we actually have cycled all across the African continent! We are overjoyed, leave bicycles and run into the surprisingly warm water.
Duncan flies to Istanbul from where he will continue to cycle home (London). I shift down a gear and start for an Israel round trip.
First I cycle along the Mediterranean coast to the north. The attempt to try to avoid the big roads results in a funny mix of bike lanes, dirt tracks, single trails, pushing through sandy dunes and short motorway sections. In the evening I always find a great place to camp right at the beach. Then my route starts to sounds almost like an excerpt from the bible: I cross the Jordan, climb the Golan Heights, descend to the sea of Galiee and continue to Jerusalem.
From Jerusalem I start for the long downhill to the Dead Sea. As low as 416m below the sea level the road finally drops. It is the lowest point on earth. Somehow you only believe it, when you are actually in the water: because of the high salt concentration you float in the water just like that. I camp right next to the sea and enjoy that special bath.
Especially during the ride along the Dead Sea and the Jordan river I am often amazed at how the Israelis have managed to turn a desert country into such a productive agricultural land.
Eventually I am back in Eilat at the Red Sea, where I crossed the border coming from Egypt. I leave the bike behind while I have to go back to Tel Aviv to pick up my passport that has been waiting there for a visa. A full week I finally have to wait there until at last I get that visa.
Back in Eilat I cross the border into Jordan. The border officials want to know, where I am going with the bicycle. 'To Amman' I answer which is 400km away. This seems to make them uncertain, whether they should let me pass or not. After a couple of telephone calls they finally let me in and I am on my way.