After our dip in Yam HaMelach, we left the area and drove up into the breathtaking Judean mountains

where we were to spend the night in a Bedouin tent. This one was more interesting than the one where we had stayed in the Negev. We had a private sukkah this time

but a shared outdoor living space. Those "lumps" on the ground are the edges of a pit where we sat with cushions. We were able to hang out there & talk while Noah slept in our hut.

There was a beautiful dining room where we sat at low tables on the floor on cushions. A special Passover menu was served and there were baskets of matzoh available. How accommodating of the Bedouin!

Another cool outdoor living-room area.

We stayed at the Bedouin tent complex the night before so we could get up early the next morning and go to Masada. This is the view from the western approach up to Masada looking across the hills back towards the Dead Sea. All that land used to be underwater...

We made it to the top!

Ruins from what was once one of Herod's palaces.

View from what was once the 3rd floor of the palace looking down onto two lower floors. The palace was built right into the side of the mountain.

Remains of a mosaic'd Byzantine church on Masada

Noah really liked standing in the ruins of the fortress pretending to be a soldier firing arrows on all of the enemies (other tourists climbing Masada) below. We hiked back down and ate the end of our matzoh granola. Thus, ended our Pesach vacation in the Judean desert – from the lowest place on earth to the top of Masada and everything in between. We hopped in the car & began heading back to Haifa. We were a little worried about whether we’d be able to find a place for lunch because it was the last day of Pesach and even the grocery stores were closed. We did see one place open in Arad, the last town in the desert before heading north into a kind of no-man’s land north of Beersheva, but Pizza Tokio did not sound appealing, so we decided to take our chances and skip it.

Good thing we did because a little while later on the side of the highway, I spotted a handwritten sign saying גבינת עיזים (goat cheese) followed by another sign for mahlabi, so we pulled off and saw an old man with a flag waving us to turn left under an overpass through a very narrow bridge.

As we drove through that little tunnel, we saw the herd that would be providing our lunch.

We had stumbled upon an oasis-an outdoor restaurant serving saj, malahbi, labaneh, olives, hummus, etc.

right there under the trees in the olive grove!

What a spectacular & serendipitous way to end our vacation!