On a dusty two-way highway, we passed expanses of desert and sand hills and the still sea, which give this stretch of the Negev its surreal and tranquil beauty. We love these trips where we are virtually alone on the road surrounded by nature. In the United States, we’ve only experienced this in New Mexico, where adobe hills mix with the puffiest white clouds imaginable.
Travelers journey from around the globe to the Negev in Israel to have the experience of effortlessly floating in the salt-enriched Dead Sea. The area also draws visitors to the Masada, the formidable ancient fortress perched on a massive plateau. However, my strongest memory from that trip is what we found as we turned off that two-way highway and onto the sandy path leading to the Flour Caves.
The Flour Caves, named for the fine, powdery sand found there, is a hidden gem of the Negev. As we walked around, massive sand walls engulfed us, our vision of them broken only by the blue skies. The walls looked surreal, each one curving into a unique structure. The sand walls were shaded in multi- layers of earthy brown, taupe and creams, reminding me of an intricate Tiramisu. The colors were created by watermarks from when the wadi had filled with running water.
As a designer, I find something appealing about the restraints of color and structure. They force one to observe closely the infinite variations within one color. For our children, the Flour Caves, with its twists and turns and hills of soft sand, was a natural playground. Our children loved to climb up and down the small powdery hills, transforming into what looked like small, messy bakers at the bottom.
My remembered images of that day reveal themselves to me like a slow-panning opening scene of a movie, etching the experience into an enduring memory of our family.
Mia is wearing Natty’s Pinafore dress in Buttercup.