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Heat, ice cream and Nirvana: 3 things I found in the Negev desert

As well as being the second part of my Israel travel story ... this is also the final draft of my competition entry. I just need to tighten it up and then I'll submit it! Wish me luck :-)

Here are a couple of pictures from that same trip from 1998! 19 years ago. I feel so young ... **sad face**

Mind ... blown ...

So much desert! Amazing!

As bead of sweat trickled between my butt cheeks, I began to get the impression that I was hilariously overdressed.

The heat was insufferable. It swaggered around yelling that, yes, it was going to suffocate us, and if we didn't like it we could just get back on the bus, like little pansies … and really, who wears jeans and a sheepskin waistcoat to the desert anyway?

The flight from London to Tel Aviv had already been an alarming adventure of delays, strip searches and hotel rooms. So as a naive, nineteen year old traveller, I mentally added the following to my huge list of things to learn:

no 324. When traveling through the Negev desert, do your best not to dress as if you are attending a shepherding convention in North Yorkshire.

Trying to walk like someone who wasn't being broiled alive inside their underwear, I casually squelched towards the air-conditioned gas station where ice cream quickly became my main focus. Unfortunately, due to my ineptitude at haggling, it also became the subject of a tragically comical few moments. Stumbling my way through a bewildering combination of sign language and waggling eyebrows, I finally snagged a bargain and stepped out again into the rude desert heat.

My ice cream instantly realized it's long held desire to throw off the shackles of solidity and ran down my arm, as the scorching temperature bullied it.

No 325. Always consider frozen goods before exploring the desert.

Noticing curious stares from my fellow passengers as I attempted to lick ice cream from my elbow, I grumpily threw my sticky self back into my seat and snapped my headphones over my ears. The grinding sounds of Nirvana filled my head and I gazed out of the window.

An impossible expanse of twilight and red mountains, their cake-like, dusty layers rising towards a backdrop of 200 billion stars met my open mouthed stare. To a girl from a light polluted, green and rainy land it was as alien as another planet ... and it was love at first contact.

Right there, on a shimmering road in the middle of the Israeli desert, I was launched towards my own kind of Nirvana. Of truly being in the moment.

The discomfort, heat and strangeness suddenly became all I needed, as they connected me to my experience, right now. The world was filled with beauty, wonder and potential. The destination no longer mattered and my heart exploded with a wild, rebellious freedom.

I was the journey and simply being there was all I cared about.

No 326. Nirvana can change your life ... if you let it!