Another glorious sunny day, with a slightly shorter distance to cover – 14km (8-9 miles).
As we left the village, we were intrigued by the donkey park – local bedouin school children use the animals to get to the village, and then tie them up in the field until it’s home time (click on the thumbnail below to see a larger image).
To start with, the terrain was much the same as yesterday’s, but it started to get stonier as the day wore on. We stopped in one of the villages to stock up on provisions for a picnic lunch (and drink the inevitable cup of sweet black mint tea).
The picnic lunch was served on a hillside overlooking a bedouin summer camp, where the sheep and goats were enjoying lunch too. I can thoroughly recommend flat breads for picnics – this versatile food can be torn into pieces, used to scoop up humus, dip in olive oil and zaatar, made into improvised sandwiches with sweetcorn, pickled cucumbers, and halal spam (?!) … and then you simply eat the washing up. Delicious.
The after lunch section of the walk turned out to be the toughest so far, uphill over rocky terrain with some mildly exposed sections. Our guides set an unnecessarily fast pace, which proved a challenge for some members of the party, only to arrive in Kufr Malek ahead of schedule. We were invited into a family house and given sweet tea to kill time (and rest our aching feet) before our luggage arrived and we moved on to our homestays for the night – men and women separately. The published schedule for the evening had included:
meet with the leaders of the local Women’s Committee
and just like yesterday, this event didn’t happen. We did however gain two extra walkers – David, a young journalist on an exchange visit from Germany, and his partner Zara. David had interviewed Michel at Siraj about Abraham’s Path, and Michel had suggested they join us for the final morning’s walk.
The men had dinner with the host family, who had a son shot by the Israeli Army in 2008 (a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time). We were offered two rooms to sleep in, and in recognition of our increasing knowledge of each other’s nocturnal habits, we agreed to be segregated according to our propensity to snore. After a tiring day, we were happy to turn in just after nine, especially as the small living room was full of chain smoking men gathered round a roasting hot wood burning stove. The party continued in our absence for another hour or two, and it was after midnight when the television stopped blaring and our guides went to bed.