On foot, over the Mars

Foto Israel National Trail, Beitrag On foot, over the Mars

The Makhtesh-Katan Crater

From Maizad Tamar to the other end of the crater.

Which is also know as HaMakhtesh, HaKatan or the Small Crater. About 21 kilometres. A 710 metres altitude climb, requiring 9 litres of drinking water.

makthtesh katan - small crater

The Small Crater – Israel National Trail

 

I’m so nervous, I’m already awake at half past four. But Tsur wants to carry on sleeping a bit. We arrange to meet at the “Exit Point“ on the Makhtesh Crater. What is called the „Exit Point“ is about halfway. We also arrange to telephone each other every hour, on the hour, starting from 12 ‘o’clock .

That gives each of us the opportunity to find a net. Without saying too much we part. Adrenalin is pumping through my blood. Today I’ve got quite a bit more than 22 kilometres of pretty dangerous hiking through the desert wilderness. In front of me lies, one of the largest erosion craters on our plantet, the Makhtesh-Katan- Crater.

In Israel they fondly call it the Small Crater, only because there is an even bigger crater, the Makhtesh-Ramon-Crater. I’ll have to cross this one too, later on ,while on my Israel Trail.

The crater I’m crossing today covers an area of about 35 square kilometres, with a huge hole 500 metres deep , cutting into the face of the earth. I’m allowed to get warmed up during the first 6 kilometres. After an easy climb, it continues uphill to the Observation Point. The landscape is incredibly beautiful.

Sand and red clay lie between rough stones under my feet. Here the trail is completely different to the Israel Trail I know in the north. Here it is a mountain path, lonely, demanding and so, so peaceful. I haven’t met a single soul up to now. I see no people. In fact I see nothing at all of our moderm world. There are no streets, no cars and no houses. Not even the Bedouin pass this way. The only thing I’m likely to meet here is absolute loneliness!

You beginn to hear what the wind wants to tell you. You beginn to feel the sandy air, as it gently blows through your moist fingers. You feel the pain of the heavy rucksack. You feel that each step you take, it gets lighter, but in contrast you feel the heaviness in your heart and the melancholy in your soul. You feel the need for company, although you really want to be alone.

You feel extreem hunger, but you know that you have hardly any food left. And at this point I beginn to think about how rediculous my journey actually is. Just this morning I was scratching out the burnt remains of Tsurs frying pan, because I was so terribly hungry and now that has got even worse. All I’ve got is a quarter of a slice of old mildewy Pita bread, plus the third of one green apple to be exact.

I’ve taken a lot of water with me. But on my way up to the Observation Point, it is hard to imagin that I’ve already drunk six litres. It is not even 10 ‘o’clock and is still quite chilly, I haven’t even urinated once, which means I’m not drinking enough. I start to calculate and I’m far from happy with the result! Today, I started off with ten wonderful litres of water and now I’ve only four litres left and on top of that I haven’t yet reached the edge of the crater.

On the way I meet up with an old friend. A tiny violet flower, who’s name I don’t know. But shortly after I left Arad I met up with her family and it was an honour for me to greet her relatives. For a long time now I’ve been talking to myself, to my flowers. I do not remove my rucksack anymore, not even when I kneel down. I feel like a clumsy Dinosaur when I’m speaking to them.

Helpless, crude and clumbsy, as though I come from another world. As opposed to the flowers, I am able to move about, but on the other hand, after only a few hours without water I’d be dead. I simply must continue on my way. Either backwards or forwards.

With a strange feeling I go up the last few metres to the edge of the crater. That what I’m about to see will be out of this world. I can feel it in my bones. My heart is beating so wildly that I can hear it beating right up to my ear drums. I rest my arms on my thighs and repeat slowly to myself. „Slowley, slowley“. While I shut my eyes. Just for a second, I see an intensive blue and a melodie of ochre tones. The colours change to music and the music changes to colours.

Our here it is quite easy to go round the bend. One is closer to oneself than never before. I take very small steps upwards and enter into two separarte, but parallel worlds. On one side I have the unreal, real world and on the other side I have the feeling that I’m up there somewhere looking down on myself. I slowly make my way up towards the edge.

In the Middle of the Small Crater

Shvil Israel – In the Middle of the Small Crater

The last few metres is like a scene in a film in which the perspective of the actual world increases, because the hidden camera, high up on the crane gets higher and higher. Absolutely breathtaking!

A split second later, my eyes are level with the edge of the crater. And bang in front of me spreads out a Mars landscape. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. It takes my breath away. Just a few centimetres further and it drops down into hell. With the tips of my boots, I loosen a couple of pebbles which fall almost half a kilometre vertically into the never ending depth of the Makhtesh Crater.

Carefully, I take a couple of steps back and rest against a man sized rock. I just have to capture this moment with my small camera. So, with outstretched arms I turn and complete two circles for the video. I’ve already taken my rucksack off. And can I now treat myself to the last part of my apple? Will Tsur come here? I’m struck dumb, looking at this incredible wonder of nature. It is as if I was one of those flowers, which might blossom for a split second, in a span covering millions of years.

I’m standing here with my mouth wide open in awe, staring at this magnificent, unique scenery. I’d give anything to be able to share this most beautiful moment in my life with my family. Indeed, I mean what I say. „ The most beautiful moment of my life“. Once before, here in Israel I’ve had this incredibly moving feeling of having finally arrived. To be there, where one would like to be.

To feel this special form of happiness and contentment plus a deep inner peace. Right now is such a moment. And I would like to share it with someone else. No film in the world, no photo in this world, no oil painting in this world and no written words can ever express my feelings at this very moment. It is the continuation of my St. James Way. For, after that I fell into a deep, deep hole.

My depression caused me to be incapable of speech and seperated me from my family. It has been a long, long way. A way with uncountable losses, but it also enabled me to see things in a new light. And it lasted three long years until today.

But even when I was at my lowest point I was always dreaming of hiking. Yes, I really did have such a dream. In fact I was dreaming day and night, although my doctors had told me that with the medication I was taking it was not possible to dream. And today, I’m standing here and thinking. „This is the place of my dreams“. One day, I’ll paint this moment, just as I remember it. Here at the edge of the crater, my feeling are a complete jumble. However, I must not dilly dally. My journey through the crater beginns here and now.

I put on my rucksack and while I am walking along, enjoy what is left of my half rotten apple. The path leads downwards and each small step I take is a symbolical step leading me closer to Hades. Even after only ten metres descent into the throat of the craters it feels as if one is swimming under water. I can hardly breeth. I’m completely exhausted and the motives of stone age paintings are pulsating through my head . I can’t feel the wind or the air anywore. All of a sudden it is unmercyfully hot, without a breath of wind. Welcome on Mars! Each step I now take seems to me to be so unreal, as though I’m in a dream world. I feel as if my life hangs on a silk thread.

Should I put a foot wrong now it could be a deadly mistake if Tsur wasn’t following me. Otherwise I’d end up being distroyed miserably by a mere trifle.

How stupide can I possibly be, to be able to feel this freedom? My hiking boots are to small to cope with this downhill climb. Every single metre I descend, I could break every bone in my body. And I’m out of breath just because I’m so frightened. Here, what I need are sticks, proper mountain boots, a satelllite telephone and a mountain guide. And God and… did I say God again? Is he with me? Will he guide me and stay with me today? Is he a good God? Does he really exist?

I hear a disconcerting whistling in my ears. I have to drink something. Here I don’t feel thirsty at all. I have to force myself to drink. How long will my water rations last if I drink without even feeling thirsty? How are my wife and kids at this very moment? Are they too, thinking about me? At this very moment, in a quarter of an hour from now I’ll be online and they will think of me. Am I going completely crazy?

On the way down, I take a couple of indiscriminate photos. Here, it is possible to photograph everything. Everything is so spectacularly beautiful. What I need here is a camera that automatically clicks every second. Later, I’m to find out that I don’t even have a single photograph of these so moving moments. Is the desert boring? Oh God. What a simple idea I must have had about Israel.

At this moment I’m passing through a section with purple sand and green earth. A new element in the period system? Israelitium 215, Palastinium 216 or an Arabium-Isotope? A smarag green Nazarethist, combined with a purple Gazaretist? Crystalline, lasting , peaceful? All is quiet on the way into the heart of the crater. And it is all so frighteningly beautiful. A trip like this could easily be compared with a trip on Space Ship One. One is a prisoner of the moment , but one doesn’t know if one will ever return.

The descent without meeting up with any other person, seems to me, to be abstract. Even in the Bavarian Alps, on my well loved Geigelstein, I’d be sure to meet up with a similarly crazy climber, even at midnight. If it hadn’t have been so hot, I would have had the feeling that I was sinking right down to the sea-bed. Sand, stones, rocks. I’m not sure if my surroundings mean it well for me? In the meantime , my water ration has sunk to a mere two and a half litres.

In the deepest part of the crater, I have the feeling that the heavens are so far away that I suddenly get a sort of panick attack. I have to force myself to say. „Everything is okay“. It is already 11’o’clock and I’m here at the exit point.

From this point, one is able to leave the crater in a few hours, without having to climb up again. I lean against the rock face in order to get a little shade. The heat down here is driving me round the bend. I will wait for Tsur, but he doesn’t come. Then I shout as loud as I can „T.s-u-u-u-r“ into the heart of the crater. A few seconds later. „T-s-u-r“ echos back to me.

But apart from the echo, there is no other answer. My watch tells me that I should be on my way. Just waiting for him fills me with the nacked fear to survive. My water ration is now down to two litres and I’m ready to hit the panick button.

After about two hour I can’t wait any longer. The net for my cell phone – that is completely ridiculous. Down here there is no net. Of course not. I’m not able to leave now, because I’ve simply gone too far, right up to my limit. It ‘s the end for me. I must have been absolutely crazy and have put myself in this deadly situation. I carry on, dizzy from thirst.

That feeling of happiness that pulsates through my body is a complete fake. I’m so weak and completely dehydrated. I zig-zag into the desert. talking to myself! Bugger. I keep falling over, I collapse, I crawl about on my knees, I get up once more, I’ m dreaming. dangerous dreams.

My endorphine is whipping me forwards as if under drugs. I’m quite alone here and I crawl my way up. Are people coming towards me? I laugh out loud, stand up and fall over again. What sort of people are they? My nose is bleeding, but I carry on and see that there are, in fact, people coming towards me. In slow motion they pass.

I hear a lot of „Schaloms“ and then I finally collapse. „Do you need some water“? A woman says, holding a bottle up to my mouth. „Dri-i-i-nk“ I hear echoing round the crater. Everyone turns and looks at me. „Jana“. I hear and „get up“. Then I’m standing in front of a group of older Israelis , who have just climbed down the other side of the crater.

„I’m Levi“. I hear the man say who is standing next to Jana. He supports me then gives me a hug. He feels my pulse and we sit down together on the sand. And Jana stands next to me in such a way that I’m in the shade. Levi want to take me with them to the exit point, but he sees that look in my eyes that nothing is going to stop me now. He begins to speak German to me. I go cold all over and stiffen up. He is getting too damm close.

„What on earth are you doing this for? Why do you have to you carry on“? Levi shouts at me. I fumble about in my rucksack, throwing everything on the floor until I find my little black book, turning over the pages to where my kids have stuck in a photo of my family. I show it to Levi. „That is why I’m doing this“. I tell him.

„Oh God, how sweet“, says Levi and pauses. „But why must you continue? You have everything in life that anyone could possibly want. Some call it happiness“. I nod and fondly caress the photo. He grabs hold of my cheeks between his fingers and looking me in the eyes says. „It’s all about yourself. Isn’t it?

Yes, Levi, but I don’t really know……“

And Levi answers.“Exactly, you don’t know and you are therefore trying to find who you are, who your God is. Yes I can understand that“. Then he is silent for some time before continuing. „You see, I myself also took a long,long time. I have children, they and my wife are the most important things in my life. That’s for sure. But about myself, I knew nothing until I did the Israel trail“.

In the meantime, I’m standing up and the others in the group are now taking care of me. I’m so ashamed and feel so naked standing in front of them, that I could die. That is exactly how it is, but today I’m prepared to let it simply happen. The others have also noticed that in front of them stands a human being, who is helplessly trying to find himself. One who, completely overcome by his feeling is trembling with fear in front of them.

small crater - shvil isael - israel trail

Levi gives me ‘bread and water’

Levi certainly knows that he won’t be taking me with him today. Otherwise my journey would have come to an end, before I had found myself.

„It is vital, that you find yourself. Only then are you in the position to have sufficient strength, to be able to help others. In this life and in the next“. Levi laughts. „You do believe in the next life, don’t you?“ I don’t know how to answer that and thank God, before I get the chance he carries on. „ You also believe in tuna“, taking a tin out of his rucksack. „Today is our last day. We leave the crater at the Exit Point and are being picked up“.

Now the others are all giving me water and what is left of their food. I’m so overcome. I would like to refuse, but I can’t and I start to cry like a small child. Yes, I cry and cry. I’m absolutely exhausted. The only thing I do feel, is that I am living! Such gratefulness, tremendous happiness and inner peace. Yes, today is the day in my life that I can be truely grateful for not having money. Otherwise I would never have experienced what I experienced here, with these strangers.

Neighbourly love and true feelings. It just tears my heart apart. Much later I see on my video that I was in fact, struck dumb, overcome, so grateful and completly knocked out that I had finally found myself. Thank you Levi and you too, Jana. And I thank Israel. I thank my family who gave me my freedom because they too, felt that I needed to make this journey to find my innerself.

Absolutely speechless I hit the road. My rucksack is so heavy now, because of all the food Levi and the others have given me to keep me going over the next couple of days. I too, have a heavy heart after all the warmth and kindness they have shown to me. The weight seems to be bearing down on me due to the terrible heat rising from the floor of the crater. I drink.

Levi gave me an extra three litres of water, which I really did not want to accept. I know that if one takes water from another person one can put them into terrible danger. Levi and the group had enough and didn’t want to let me go without the life saving strength of the water.

Just as he was about to go, Levi came back, gave me a hug and said. „You know, don’t you, that we are the same people“. I couldn’t stop thinking about this sentence. You know, don’t you, that we are the same people. Well knowing that I am a German he said that as a Jew to a Christian. (Check that I’ve got the next part right).

We the Germans have most certainly been responsible for the extinction of a large part of the families of the Jewish People in this world. Do they, the Jews, live today in the „Olam Haba“, the world to come, as many of the Jews believe? Does it give those that remain, the strength to still believe in the goodness of man?

My way up to the top, turns out to be a path in which I could scream out loud, it is so steep, so steep until I’m finally standing in front of a verticle rock face. It takes my breath away. There, rising up in front of me is a hundred or maybe even two hundred metres of sheer rock face. Inspite of that, it is a path that couldn’t be more beautiful. Levi has given me all this with his love. I feel deeply ashamed, but it gives me an inhuman strength to continue. I pant and I sweat. Up to now I’ve drunk twelve litres.

That is two litres more than the reserve. What would have happened if I hadn’t have met Levi? I wonder where Tsur is right now? He is most certainly quite alone and only has himself to rely on. Should I have waited for him? Did he actually enter the crater? I can’t just turn round and go and look for him. Although I do fear for him, and this fear is driving me round the bend.

The climb up to the edge of the crater is difficult. It is like as though Hell is holding me back. Metal ladders lead me vertically upwards and I don’t dare to look down because even looking sideways makes me feel dizzy. I’m so exhausted, but I still am able to concentrate on holding onto the rungs of the ladder with the remaining strenght that is left in me. I daren’t let go now, not even from exhaustion.

I slowly reach the top, then at long last, I feel my body begin to relax again. It is already late afternoon. A ridiculous 22 kilometres? Thirteen litres of water – okay, I’ve got about half a litre left.

Once more I’m standing on the edge of the crater, but this time on the other side. At last I can take my rucksack off and try to squeeze myself into a cool chimney cut into the steep rock face. Now I take a look back on the Mars landscape: Pink-purple horizon. Everything goes blurred in front of me. This evening I intend to eat well.

Having arrived at the top, I walk just a short way to my digs for the night. I’m alone but immensely happy at last. Up here I’m still unable to answer the question of who I am, But at least , today I have seen myself as never before and have come face to face with my inner sole and have experienced feelings with such an unbelievable intensity. That is why I really had to laugh as, looking out of my window, I saw two jeeps attempting to drive up the way I had just come.

small crater - shvil isael - israel trail

in the small crater. int – israel national trail

It wasn’t that steep! One of them just about made it with a young lady, suitably impressed, by his side. He would be up to the brim with Testosteron, the gas peddle pressed through to the floor and be saying to himself. „What a great guy I am“.

During the course of the evening others start to arrive. Everyone from the opposite direction. Among them are threes Italian business people, two men and a woman. I saw them at the exit point earlier today. I approach them and ask. „Have you by any chance seen Tsur?“ the Israeli guide would like to speak English to me, but I’d prefer to speak Italian with them as I am fluent in Italian and can express my feelings much better. I am surprised when Laura answers. „Si, ho visto Tsur“. Yes, I’ve seen Tsur. He left the crater at the exit point.

It was already afternoon. „The one with the pony tail“? He’s okay, but I think it was a close one!

I ask Laura what she means by “a close one“. Semi, the guide answers me. „He survived“. Now I am really shocked. What did he mean by that? What happened to Tsur? How is he? I start to panic. Should I ring the police? At this moment a taxi arrives in a cloud of dust, due to the bad state of the road. And out jumps Tsur, obviously in the best of spirits.

„Christian, you are fine“? He shouts across the room. „Yes, me, I’m okay“.

Tsur tells me about the „dried up man“. Last year, exactly at the place where we had intendered to meet in the crater, a hiker died, dehydrated and dried up. And that right next to where an Israeli guard was looking after an electrical distribution point at the end of the Exit Point. This same guard discovered Tsur, completely exhausted and took him out to the nearest road. He was more than pleased to find Tsur alive rather than dead.

Today , Tsur gives me a different impression. He is much quieter than usual, certainly very moved. He realised that today could have been his last. He also realised that it could have been my last hour as well. It showed him that our dear God can be in different places at the same time and that tonight, one should at least give some serious thought about oneself and God. I’ve never seen Tsur like this before.

A group of young people arrive at our lodgings, accompanied by three jeeps. They are all going on a three day stage, without any baggage and tonight they are having a grill. I regard it as a sort of duty to look after Tsur tonight and to organise some food for him.

„No. You can’t do that“ says Tsur. And once more he says. „No. Please don’t! It is your decision to beg but please don’t do it for me. I’d rather die“.

I look at him and go and join the others. „No. No. Please don’t do it“ he shouts after me. He is not able to follow me because he is too exhausted. And Tsur also disapproves of the fact that I want to share my water reserves which I have dug up with him. That I, as a beggar organise his food is in his eyes a deep insult. I do it anyway. And I do it with the strength of God and with humour!

To cut a long story short. I don’t even have to beg. But quite the opposite. I had problems, refusing a lot more food than I could carry away. For them, it wasn’t about helping a weak and fatigued Israeli and a German beggar. As I hadn’t even mentioned that. Normally I would earn my bread and water by being a good listerner and telling my story. Talk about bread and water! As if a miracle had happened and turned it into grilled steak and wine!! In the meantime Tsur had managed to make a small fire. He seems to be so terribly ashamed as he sees me return with my hands full. „Did you actually ask them to give you some food“?

„Yes Tsur, Today is our day“ ( Today is the first day of the rest of our lives)

„They wouldn’t have given me anything. But, you perhaps, because you are a German and told your story“.

„Yes“. I say. „Because I am a German and told my story“.

Then for a while Tsur was thoughfully quiet and says. „Ho–lo–caust. Yes. And they gave you steaks and champagne „ Another poignant pause. „You go up there, just like that. You must be completely crazy“. After a while he says. „ And I was frightened of meeting a German“. He gets up and gives me a hug. „Sorry“ he says. „But it was like that“

Then we sit around the fire and we weep together. Why do people have to be so evil? I do not have an answer to that. Since I’ve been in Israel nobody has talked to me about Germany’s past. Today, it is the right moment for me to feel the deeply rooted truth in Tsur. It is terribly moving and emotional. I can’t change history or turn back the clock. But I can begin to understand how they feel. The story is so horrific that when one tries to feel for them, it hurts so much. It is just beyond ones grasp.

Tonight I sleep out in the open, next to Tsur. I feel a violent anger about what we Germans have done. I feel a certain closness not only to the Jews, but to their people, to every plant, to every stone that I have met on my travels. I feel so insignificant but am also ready and open to learn my next lesson. T

oday it is as though I’m up high , looking down and watching myself on film( NOT happy with this) Charlotte Knobloch, the former President of the Jewish Council in Germany came to me in a dream. I can remember how she said to me. „Just get going. Have no fear. Find out the truth, be open, and above all,. be yourself. Listern to your inner self. Listern to what your heart has to say, then and only then you’ll understand the world, and then you will have found yourself.“ She was quite right! It wasn’t at all like I expected it. She was not bitter, but gracious and wise. It is absolutely crazy. Everything that is going through my mind today. And one has to go and hike through the desert in order to understand it? Yes. Maybe!

Tonight. while I’m asleep I get a visit from all the souls of the people who have given me bread and water. A shocking dream, helplessly wandering about from soul to soul. A flight with a thousand guardian angles. A journey with the blessing from all the beings in the universe. It is a journey that flys by so quickly, leaving no trace, except in my self, in my soul, burning like fire. I also feel the need to do good, No. ‘To be allowed to do good. „Please God. Give me that chance, to be allowed to do good. To see the opportunities. Never again to pass them by“. My evening prayer is somehow without hope, but beautiful just the same. I dream about the many angles, who now accompany Tsur and I through the desert.

 

crater104 - negev painting

impressions from the negev desert near the small crater

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Textauszug Israel-Trail.com On foot, over the Mars The Makhtesh-Katan Crater From Maizad Tamar to the other end of the crater. Which is also know as HaMakhtesh, HaKatan or the Small Crater. About 21 kilometres. A 710 metres altitude climb, requiring 9 litres of drinking water. I'm so nervous, I'm already awake at half past four. But Tsur wants to carry on sleeping a bit. We arrange to meet at the “Exit Point“ on the Makhtesh Crater. What is called the „Exit Point“ is about halfway. We also arrange to telephone each other every hour, on the hour, starting from 12 'o'clock . That gives each of us the opportunity to find a net. Without saying too much we part. Adrenalin is pumping through my blood. Today I've got quite a bit more than 22 kilometres of pretty dangerous hiking through the desert wilderness. In front of me lies, one of the largest erosion craters on our plantet, the Makhtesh-Katan- Crater. In Israel they fondly call it the Small Crater, only because there is an even bigger crater, the Makhtesh-Ramon-Crater. I'll have to cross this one too, later on ,while on my Israel Trail. The crater I'm crossing today covers an area of about 35 square kilometres, with a huge hole 500 metres deep , cutting into the face of the earth. I'm allowed to get warmed up during the first 6 kilometres. After an easy climb, it continues uphill to the Observation Point. The landscape is incredibly beautiful. Sand and red clay lie between rough stones under my feet. Here the trail is completely different to the Israel Trail I know in the north. Here it is a mountain path, lonely, demanding and so, so peaceful. I haven't met a single soul up to now. I see no people. In fact I see nothing at all of our moderm world. There are no streets, no cars and no houses. Not even the Bedouin pass this way. The only thing I'm likely to meet here is absolute loneliness! You beginn to hear what the wind wants to tell you. You beginn to feel the sandy air, as it gently blows through your moist fingers. You feel the pain of the heavy rucksack. You feel that each step you take, it gets lighter, but in contrast you feel the heaviness in your heart and the melancholy in your soul. You feel the need for company, although you really want to be alone. You feel extreem hunger, but you know that you have hardly any food left. And at this point I beginn to think about how rediculous my journey actually is. Just this morning I was scratching out the burnt remains of Tsurs frying pan, because I was so terribly hungry and now that has got even worse. All I've got is a quarter of a slice of old mildewy Pita bread, plus the third of one green apple to be exact. I've taken a lot of water with me. But on my way up to the Observation Point, it is hard to imagin that I've already drunk six litres. It is not even 10 'o'clock and is still quite chilly, I haven't even urinated once, which means I'm not drinking enough. I start to calculate and I'm far from happy with the result! Today, I started off with ten wonderful litres of water and now I've only four litres left and on top of that I haven't yet reached the edge of the crater. On the way I meet up with an old friend. A tiny violet flower, who's name I don't know. But shortly after I left Arad I met up with her family and it was an honour for me to greet her relatives. For a long time now I've been talking to myself, to my flowers. I do not remove my rucksack anymore, not even when I kneel down. I feel like a clumsy Dinosaur when I'm speaking to them. Helpless, crude and clumbsy, as though I come from another world. As opposed to the flowers, I am able to move about, but on the other hand, after only a few hours without water I'd be dead. I simply must continue on my way. Either backwards or forwards. With a strange feeling I go up the last few metres to the edge of the crater. That what I'm about to see will be out of this world. I can feel it in my bones. My heart is beating so wildly that I can hear it beating right up to my ear drums. I rest my arms on my thighs and repeat slowly to myself. „Slowley, slowley“. While I shut my eyes. Just for a second, I see an intensive blue and a melodie of ochre tones. The colours change to music and the music changes to colours. Our here it is quite easy to go round the bend. One is closer to oneself than never before. I take very small steps upwards and enter into two separarte, but parallel worlds. On one side I have the unreal, real world and on the other side I have the feeling that I'm up there somewhere looking down on myself. I slowly make my way up towards the edge. The last few metres is like a scene in a film in which the perspective of the actual world increases, because the hidden camera, high up on the crane gets higher and higher. Absolutely breathtaking! A split second later, my eyes are level with the edge of the crater. And bang in front of me spreads out a Mars landscape. I've never seen anything quite like it before. It takes my breath away. Just a few centimetres further and it drops down into hell. With the tips of my boots, I loosen a couple of pebbles which fall almost half a kilometre vertically into the never ending depth of the Makhtesh Crater. Carefully, I take a couple of steps back and rest against a man sized rock. I just have to capture this moment with my small camera. So, with outstretched arms I turn and complete two circles for the video. I've already taken my rucksack off. And can I now treat myself to the last part of my apple? Will Tsur come here? I'm struck dumb, looking at this incredible wonder of nature. It is as if I was one of those flowers, which might blossom for a split second, in a span covering millions of years. I'm standing here with my mouth wide open in awe, staring at this magnificent, unique scenery. I'd give anything to be able to share this most beautiful moment in my life with my family. Indeed, I mean what I say. „ The most beautiful moment of my life“. Once before, here in Israel I've had this incredibly moving feeling of having finally arrived. To be there, where one would like to be. To feel this special form of happiness and contentment plus a deep inner peace. Right now is such a moment. And I would like to share it with someone else. No film in the world, no photo in this world, no oil painting in this world and no written words can ever express my feelings at this very moment. It is the continuation of my St. James Way. For, after that I fell into a deep, deep hole. My depression caused me to be incapable of speech and seperated me from my family. It has been a long, long way. A way with uncountable losses, but it also enabled me to see things in a new light. And it lasted three long years until today. But even when I was at my lowest point I was always dreaming of hiking. Yes, I really did have such a dream. In fact I was dreaming day and night, although my doctors had told me that with the medication I was taking it was not possible to dream. And today, I'm standing here and thinking. „This is the place of my dreams“. One day, I'll paint this moment, just as I remember it. Here at the edge of the crater, my feeling are a complete jumble. However, I must not dilly dally. My journey through the crater beginns here and now. I put on my rucksack and while I am walking along, enjoy what is left of my half rotten apple. The path leads downwards and each small step I take is a symbolical step leading me closer to Hades. Even after only ten metres descent into the throat of the craters it feels as if one is swimming under water. I can hardly breeth. I'm completely exhausted and the motives of stone age paintings are pulsating through my head . I can't feel the wind or the air anywore. All of a sudden it is unmercyfully hot, without a breath of wind. Welcome on Mars! Each step I now take seems to me to be so unreal, as though I'm in a dream world. I feel as if my life hangs on a silk thread. Should I put a foot wrong now it could be a deadly mistake if Tsur wasn't following me. Otherwise I'd end up being distroyed miserably by a mere trifle. How stupide can I possibly be, to be able to feel this freedom? My hiking boots are to small to cope with this downhill climb. Every single metre I descend, I could break every bone in my body. And I'm out of breath just because I'm so frightened. Here, what I need are sticks, proper mountain boots, a satelllite telephone and a mountain guide. And God and... did I say God again? Is he with me? Will he guide me and stay with me today? Is he a good God? Does he really exist? I hear a disconcerting whistling in my ears. I have to drink something. Here I don't feel thirsty at all. I have to force myself to drink. How long will my water rations last if I drink without even feeling thirsty? How are my wife and kids at this very moment? Are they too, thinking about me? At this very moment, in a quarter of an hour from now I'll be online and they will think of me. Am I going completely crazy? On the way down, I take a couple of indiscriminate photos. Here, it is possible to photograph everything. Everything is so spectacularly beautiful. What I need here is a camera that automatically clicks every second. Later, I'm to find out that I don't even have a single photograph of these so moving moments. Is the desert boring? Oh God. What a simple idea I must have had about Israel. At this moment I'm passing through a section with purple sand and green earth. A new element in the period system? Israelitium 215, Palastinium 216 or an Arabium-Isotope? A smarag green Nazarethist, combined with a purple Gazaretist? Crystalline, lasting , peaceful? All is quiet on the way into the heart of the crater. And it is all so frighteningly beautiful. A trip like this could easily be compared with a trip on Space Ship One. One is a prisoner of the moment , but one doesn't know if one will ever return. The descent without meeting up with any other person, seems to me, to be abstract. Even in the Bavarian Alps, on my well loved Geigelstein, I'd be sure to meet up with a similarly crazy climber, even at midnight. If it hadn't have been so hot, I would have had the feeling that I was sinking right down to the sea-bed. Sand, stones, rocks. I'm not sure if my surroundings mean it well for me? In the meantime , my water ration has sunk to a mere two and a half litres. In the deepest part of the crater, I have the feeling that the heavens are so far away that I suddenly get a sort of panick attack. I have to force myself to say. „Everything is okay“. It is already 11'o'clock and I'm here at the exit point. From this point, one is able to leave the crater in a few hours, without having to climb up again. I lean against the rock face in order to get a little shade. The heat down here is driving me round the bend. I will wait for Tsur, but he doesn't come. Then I shout as loud as I can „T.s-u-u-u-r“ into the heart of the crater. A few seconds later. „T-s-u-r“ echos back to me. But apart from the echo, there is no other answer. My watch tells me that I should be on my way. Just waiting for him fills me with the nacked fear to survive. My water ration is now down to two litres and I'm ready to hit the panick button. After about two hour I can't wait any longer. The net for my cell phone - that is completely ridiculous. Down here there is no net. Of course not. I'm not able to leave now, because I've simply gone too far, right up to my limit. It 's the end for me. I must have been absolutely crazy and have put myself in this deadly situation. I carry on, dizzy from thirst. That feeling of happiness that pulsates through my body is a complete fake. I'm so weak and completely dehydrated. I zig-zag into the desert. talking to myself! Bugger. I keep falling over, I collapse, I crawl about on my knees, I get up once more, I' m dreaming. dangerous dreams. My endorphine is whipping me forwards as if under drugs. I'm quite alone here and I crawl my way up. Are people coming towards me? I laugh out loud, stand up and fall over again. What sort of people are they? My nose is bleeding, but I carry on and see that there are, in fact, people coming towards me. In slow motion they pass. I hear a lot of „Schaloms“ and then I finally collapse. „Do you need some water“? A woman says, holding a bottle up to my mouth. „Dri-i-i-nk“ I hear echoing round the crater. Everyone turns and looks at me. „Jana“. I hear and „get up“. Then I'm standing in front of a group of older Israelis , who have just climbed down the other side of the crater. „I'm Levi“. I hear the man say who is standing next to Jana. He supports me then gives me a hug. He feels my pulse and we sit down together on the sand. And Jana stands next to me in such a way that I'm in the shade. Levi want to take me with them to the exit point, but he sees that look in my eyes that nothing is going to stop me now. He begins to speak German to me. I go cold all over and stiffen up. He is getting too damm close. „What on earth are you doing this for? Why do you have to you carry on“? Levi shouts at me. I fumble about in my rucksack, throwing everything on the floor until I find my little black book, turning over the pages to where my kids have stuck in a photo of my family. I show it to Levi. „That is why I'm doing this“. I tell him. „Oh God, how sweet“, says Levi and pauses. „But why must you continue? You have everything in life that anyone could possibly want. Some call it happiness“. I nod and fondly caress the photo. He grabs hold of my cheeks between his fingers and looking me in the eyes says. „It's all about yourself. Isn't it? Yes, Levi, but I don't really know......“ And Levi answers.“Exactly, you don't know and you are therefore trying to find who you are, who your God is. Yes I can understand that“. Then he is silent for some time before continuing. „You see, I myself also took a long,long time. I have children, they and my wife are the most important things in my life. That's for sure. But about myself, I knew nothing until I did the Israel trail“. In the meantime, I'm standing up and the others in the group are now taking care of me. I'm so ashamed and feel so naked standing in front of them, that I could die. That is exactly how it is, but today I'm prepared to let it simply happen. The others have also noticed that in front of them stands a human being, who is helplessly trying to find himself. One who, completely overcome by his feeling is trembling with fear in front of them. Levi certainly knows that he won't be taking me with him today. Otherwise my journey would have come to an end, before I had found myself. „It is vital, that you find yourself. Only then are you in the position to have sufficient strength, to be able to help others. In this life and in the next“. Levi laughts. „You do believe in the next life, don't you?“ I don't know how to answer that and thank God, before I get the chance he carries on. „ You also believe in tuna“, taking a tin out of his rucksack. „Today is our last day. We leave the crater at the Exit Point and are being picked up“. Now the others are all giving me water and what is left of their food. I'm so overcome. I would like to refuse, but I can't and I start to cry like a small child. Yes, I cry and cry. I'm absolutely exhausted. The only thing I do feel, is that I am living! Such gratefulness, tremendous happiness and inner peace. Yes, today is the day in my life that I can be truely grateful for not having money. Otherwise I would never have experienced what I experienced here, with these strangers. Neighbourly love and true feelings. It just tears my heart apart. Much later I see on my video that I was in fact, struck dumb, overcome, so grateful and completly knocked out that I had finally found myself. Thank you Levi and you too, Jana. And I thank Israel. I thank my family who gave me my freedom because they too, felt that I needed to make this journey to find my innerself. Absolutely speechless I hit the road. My rucksack is so heavy now, because of all the food Levi and the others have given me to keep me going over the next couple of days. I too, have a heavy heart after all the warmth and kindness they have shown to me. The weight seems to be bearing down on me due to the terrible heat rising from the floor of the crater. I drink. Levi gave me an extra three litres of water, which I really did not want to accept. I know that if one takes water from another person one can put them into terrible danger. Levi and the group had enough and didn't want to let me go without the life saving strength of the water. Just as he was about to go, Levi came back, gave me a hug and said. „You know, don't you, that we are the same people“. I couldn't stop thinking about this sentence. You know, don't you, that we are the same people. Well knowing that I am a German he said that as a Jew to a Christian. (Check that I've got the next part right). We the Germans have most certainly been responsible for the extinction of a large part of the families of the Jewish People in this world. Do they, the Jews, live today in the „Olam Haba“, the world to come, as many of the Jews believe? Does it give those that remain, the strength to still believe in the goodness of man? My way up to the top, turns out to be a path in which I could scream out loud, it is so steep, so steep until I'm finally standing in front of a verticle rock face. It takes my breath away. There, rising up in front of me is a hundred or maybe even two hundred metres of sheer rock face. Inspite of that, it is a path that couldn't be more beautiful. Levi has given me all this with his love. I feel deeply ashamed, but it gives me an inhuman strength to continue. I pant and I sweat. Up to now I've drunk twelve litres. That is two litres more than the reserve. What would have happened if I hadn't have met Levi? I wonder where Tsur is right now? He is most certainly quite alone and only has himself to rely on. Should I have waited for him? Did he actually enter the crater? I can't just turn round and go and look for him. Although I do fear for him, and this fear is driving me round the bend. The climb up to the edge of the crater is difficult. It is like as though Hell is holding me back. Metal ladders lead me vertically upwards and I don't dare to look down because even looking sideways makes me feel dizzy. I'm so exhausted, but I still am able to concentrate on holding onto the rungs of the ladder with the remaining strenght that is left in me. I daren't let go now, not even from exhaustion. I slowly reach the top, then at long last, I feel my body begin to relax again. It is already late afternoon. A ridiculous 22 kilometres? Thirteen litres of water – okay, I've got about half a litre left. Once more I'm standing on the edge of the crater, but this time on the other side. At last I can take my rucksack off and try to squeeze myself into a cool chimney cut into the steep rock face. Now I take a look back on the Mars landscape: Pink-purple horizon. Everything goes blurred in front of me. This evening I intend to eat well. Having arrived at the top, I walk just a short way to my digs for the night. I'm alone but immensely happy at last. Up here I'm still unable to answer the question of who I am, But at least , today I have seen myself as never before and have come face to face with my inner sole and have experienced feelings with such an unbelievable intensity. That is why I really had to laugh as, looking out of my window, I saw two jeeps attempting to drive up the way I had just come. It wasn't that steep! One of them just about made it with a young lady, suitably impressed, by his side. He would be up to the brim with Testosteron, the gas peddle pressed through to the floor and be saying to himself. „What a great guy I am“. During the course of the evening others start to arrive. Everyone from the opposite direction. Among them are threes Italian business people, two men and a woman. I saw them at the exit point earlier today. I approach them and ask. „Have you by any chance seen Tsur?“ the Israeli guide would like to speak English to me, but I'd prefer to speak Italian with them as I am fluent in Italian and can express my feelings much better. I am surprised when Laura answers. „Si, ho visto Tsur“. Yes, I've seen Tsur. He left the crater at the exit point. It was already afternoon. „The one with the pony tail“? He's okay, but I think it was a close one! I ask Laura what she means by “a close one“. Semi, the guide answers me. „He survived“. Now I am really shocked. What did he mean by that? What happened to Tsur? How is he? I start to panic. Should I ring the police? At this moment a taxi arrives in a cloud of dust, due to the bad state of the road. And out jumps Tsur, obviously in the best of spirits. „Christian, you are fine“? He shouts across the room. „Yes, me, I'm okay“. Tsur tells me about the „dried up man“. Last year, exactly at the place where we had intendered to meet in the crater, a hiker died, dehydrated and dried up. And that right next to where an Israeli guard was looking after an electrical distribution point at the end of the Exit Point. This same guard discovered Tsur, completely exhausted and took him out to the nearest road. He was more than pleased to find Tsur alive rather than dead. Today , Tsur gives me a different impression. He is much quieter than usual, certainly very moved. He realised that today could have been his last. He also realised that it could have been my last hour as well. It showed him that our dear God can be in different places at the same time and that tonight, one should at least give some serious thought about oneself and God. I've never seen Tsur like this before. A group of young people arrive at our lodgings, accompanied by three jeeps. They are all going on a three day stage, without any baggage and tonight they are having a grill. I regard it as a sort of duty to look after Tsur tonight and to organise some food for him. „No. You can't do that“ says Tsur. And once more he says. „No. Please don't! It is your decision to beg but please don't do it for me. I'd rather die“. I look at him and go and join the others. „No. No. Please don't do it“ he shouts after me. He is not able to follow me because he is too exhausted. And Tsur also disapproves of the fact that I want to share my water reserves which I have dug up with him. That I, as a beggar organise his food is in his eyes a deep insult. I do it anyway. And I do it with the strength of God and with humour! To cut a long story short. I don't even have to beg. But quite the opposite. I had problems, refusing a lot more food than I could carry away. For them, it wasn't about helping a weak and fatigued Israeli and a German beggar. As I hadn't even mentioned that. Normally I would earn my bread and water by being a good listerner and telling my story. Talk about bread and water! As if a miracle had happened and turned it into grilled steak and wine!! In the meantime Tsur had managed to make a small fire. He seems to be so terribly ashamed as he sees me return with my hands full. „Did you actually ask them to give you some food“? „Yes Tsur, Today is our day“ ( Today is the first day of the rest of our lives) „They wouldn't have given me anything. But, you perhaps, because you are a German and told your story“. „Yes“. I say. „Because I am a German and told my story“. Then for a while Tsur was thoughfully quiet and says. „Ho–lo–caust. Yes. And they gave you steaks and champagne „ Another poignant pause. „You go up there, just like that. You must be completely crazy“. After a while he says. „ And I was frightened of meeting a German“. He gets up and gives me a hug. „Sorry“ he says. „But it was like that“ Then we sit around the fire and we weep together. Why do people have to be so evil? I do not have an answer to that. Since I've been in Israel nobody has talked to me about Germany's past. Today, it is the right moment for me to feel the deeply rooted truth in Tsur. It is terribly moving and emotional. I can't change history or turn back the clock. But I can begin to understand how they feel. The story is so horrific that when one tries to feel for them, it hurts so much. It is just beyond ones grasp. Tonight I sleep out in the open, next to Tsur. I feel a violent anger about what we Germans have done. I feel a certain closness not only to the Jews, but to their people, to every plant, to every stone that I have met on my travels. I feel so insignificant but am also ready and open to learn my next lesson. T oday it is as though I'm up high , looking down and watching myself on film( NOT happy with this) Charlotte Knobloch, the former President of the Jewish Council in Germany came to me in a dream. I can remember how she said to me. „Just get going. Have no fear. Find out the truth, be open, and above all,. be yourself. Listern to your inner self. Listern to what your heart has to say, then and only then you'll understand the world, and then you will have found yourself.“ She was quite right! It wasn't at all like I expected it. She was not bitter, but gracious and wise. It is absolutely crazy. Everything that is going through my mind today. And one has to go and hike through the desert in order to understand it? Yes. Maybe! Tonight. while I'm asleep I get a visit from all the souls of the people who have given me bread and water. A shocking dream, helplessly wandering about from soul to soul. A flight with a thousand guardian angles. A journey with the blessing from all the beings in the universe. It is a journey that flys by so quickly, leaving no trace, except in my self, in my soul, burning like fire. I also feel the need to do good, No. 'To be allowed to do good. „Please God. Give me that chance, to be allowed to do good. To see the opportunities. Never again to pass them by“. My evening prayer is somehow without hope, but beautiful just the same. I dream about the many angles, who now accompany Tsur and I through the desert. Israel-Trail Post H1 Headlines On foot, over the Mars Array ( ) H2 Headlines zum Shvil Israel Beitrag Array ( [0] => The Makhtesh-Katan Crater [1] => From Maizad Tamar to the other end of the crater. ) Keywords zu diesem Israel-Trail-Beitrag:

Israel-Trail, engl excerp, Israel-Trail, The Small Crater

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