With the Bedouins in the Negev desert – From markets, to camel milk, to unrecognised villages.
Yes, I know, it was over a month ago. But I still want to write about my trip to the Negev desert. Mostly, I want to show you the pictures!
I went with a small group of people, there was just four of us. We left Jerusalem very early because we were scheduled to visit a market in the township of Kseifa, that starts and ends early in the morning. This market we visited is a unique Bedouin market in the middle of the desert, where they mostly sell livestock. It is a very closed and conservative community there, we didn’t see any other woman but an old lady whose face was covered.
Because we were woman, our guide asked us to were scarves over our heads… And actually it’s a good thing we did, because we felt uncomfortable enough in that environment. It was almost as if we were not a part of this world, as if we were behind a glass window: people could see us but didn’t take notice of us. They just completely ignored us, a part from a couple of intrigued little kids who were watching us taste some Sage tea.
We walked away from the market to go to a nearby barn where a family keeps some camels and donkeys. It was quite fun to feed the camels and to take a few pictures of them, especially that once they understood we were feeding us, they were kind of pushing each other away with their long necks to be the first one to get to the food.
Just outside the barn, a mum camel was with her baby camel. The owner noticed we were hanging around the barn, so he came to say hello and offer us a taste of camel milk. When we said yes, we were expecting him to go back to the house and back with a bottle. But we’re in the Negev desert, it doesn’t work like that. So he took a bucket and went to milk the mum camel. It actually tasted pretty good, it was warm obviously, but didn’t have the strong taste I had expected. It was kind of like cow milk, but with less taste, and it was creamier than cow milk. The guy who gave us the milk said that in a few minutes we would feel much much stronger because it was the first time we drunk camel milk, and when you drink it for the first time, you supposedly can feel it go through your body and through your veins. Come on mate, it’s been a month and I’m still waiting for that effect you were talking about.
After that, we left the mum and baby in piece.
We toured the town for a bit, we saw the Mosque.
Kseifa is one of the townships established by Israel to encourage the Bedouins to quite their way of life, their villages, and come and live in the city. They are known for high criminality that is correlated with the loss of the Bedouin’s traditional lands and customs.
We also visited the ruins of some old Bedouin homes on the side of the township.
After that, we drove to an unrecognised Bedouin village where all the houses have demolition orders. There, we met Halil and his family who were hosting us for lunch. As we got there early, he gave us a grand tour of his modest property.
The traditional food we had over lunch was great, even tough we all agreed we definitely had too much of it. We took a few goodbye pictures on the doorstep, before waving goodbye and driving off.
Our last stop was at the township of Likiyah where a women’s weaving cooperative is reviving traditional Bedouin weaving of rugs, bags and other items. There, we had a good insight into the whole process: spinning, dying, and weaving.
On the way back to Jerusalem, we managed to convince our guide to stop on the side of the road to do the best tourist thing I’ve done since I got here: take pictures alongside a “Camel crossing warning sign”. The whole trip was worth it just to add that picture to my collection.
Salam everyone, I’m off to another desert tomorrow,: the Wadi Rum, in Jordan.
Hopefully, I will make it back to Israel in a few days.