A weekend away, worlds away

I unrolled my mat on the not-so-clean carpeted floor of the conference room and immediately noticed the annoying fluorescent light overhead as well as the sounds of people working in the adjacent kitchen. A vacuum vroomed in the distance. It was a little before 7:30am and already the hotel was abuzz.

“Boker tov, shmi Na’ama,” the teacher said. Her smile was warm and inviting, and she looked the same middle age as me. She had a great gig, I thought to myself, teaching yoga at what appeared to be the highest end hotel in the middle of the Israeli desert. Called Bereshit, which are the first few words in the Old Testament and translated as “in the beginning”, the complex sits on the edge of a crater in Mizpe Ramon and blends seamlessly into the stark desert landscape.

A few seconds later, a young woman, a fellow American with basic Hebrew, came in, sat down on a mat and asked the teacher if we could practice outside. Apparently, she had come to class the day before and they had spent half of it on the deck. Na’ama looked at me, and I nodded in agreement.

Class began on our backs, circling our hips and doing simple twists. After warming up, we sat cross-legged and closed our eyes. The noises nearby distracted me, and I regretted rushing out to class. Philippe and I had arrived late the night before and only had two days to spend; there was so much to see and do both in and out of the hotel that I knew time would pass quickly.

We warmed up so slowly that despite being indoors, I kept all my layers on. Then, exactly midway through, Na’ama asked us to pick up our mats and take our personal belongings with us to go outside. Her main concern was that we be warm enough since it was still early and the sun was wintery warm. We set down our mats on the wood deck outside the pool facing Na’ama and the pit of the crater. We stood at the top of our mats in mountain pose and looked out at the mountains beyond.

The main building with restaurant, cinema, gym, spa, pool...

After a few gentle sun salutations, I finally removed my sweatshirt as heat built in my body.

At the end of class, with our backs to the crater

Another woman joined us as we cycled through triangle, warrior II and half moon pose. I no longer heard the vroom of the vacuum, the clinking of pots in the kitchen or the clutter in my own head. Gazing out into the vastness in front of me, I fully appreciated my surroundings and how I got there.

A year ago, while Benjamin was working at a high-tech company before his army draft date, the company gave each employee a hotel voucher for Hanukkah, good for either two weekend or three weeknights at Bereshit. When he came home disappointed because the year before everyone had received ipads, we told him we could/would easily put it to good use if he regifted it to us. Our almost all American, business-minded son decided to try to sell it instead. Months went by and nothing happened. I even forgot about it. Then, early September, on Benjamin’s 19th birthday and our 22nd-wedding anniversary, I received a gift: the voucher. Inside Benjamin had written: See how generous I am? and Philippe had signed it. I am not sure, nor do I care, what went down between them, but it was for my benefit.

While practicing yoga Friday morning and looking out at what some Israelis call the Grand Canyon of this country, I thought about how lucky we are. Because of our son’s generosity, because our girls were having a wonderful time with new family friends, because the weather was perfect, because we were belatedly celebrating over two decades of marriage, because we were being pampered in one of the most stunning hotels I have ever stayed in and so on.

Throughout our weekend, Philippe and I hiked at En Avdat canyon, mountain biked along a flat path at the top of the crater, watched the Ides of March and part of To Rome with Love in the hotel’s mini movie theater, swam, relaxed, went to the gym, participated in a unique mind-body class called Rio Aberto, took baths, gorged ourselves on a full Israeli-American breakfast, and most importantly, enjoyed each other’s company.

In En Avdat canyon

When I glanced at my watch early Saturday morning and saw it was a little after 7am, I rolled over. Despite every intention of practicing with Na’ama again, I couldn’t move my body out of bed. I was sorry to miss repeating those sun salutations with her on the deck overlooking the crater but hope that one day I’ll return to Bereshit.  It doesn’t have to be a weekend; even one night there probably has that magical touch and transports you worlds away.

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15 Responses to “A weekend away, worlds away”

  1. Caren January 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    What a beautiful experience in what sounds like idyllic surroundings. Hope to experience the same on a future visit.

    • Jennifer Lang January 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

      You just have to watch what time of year you go. I imagine March and November are ideal. It can rain there and night time is cool/cold.

  2. Marianne/Mom/Grandma January 21, 2013 at 4:38 am #

    Maybe we could join you for a day or two on one of our trips! Sounds wonderful and sure has been glowingly written about! Most importantly, I love how you appreciated everything! love…

    • Jennifer Lang January 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

      I think that by your next trip in April it is already unbearably hot down there… best times are probably November and March.

  3. Tamara January 21, 2013 at 5:01 am #

    Beautifully said. It also makes me want to go. I am glad you and Philippe enjoyed your time there:)

    • Jennifer Lang January 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      Merci ma belle. Et gros, gros bises.

  4. Lauren January 21, 2013 at 5:38 am #

    One of my favorite parts of the country…what a treat for you and P.

    xoxo – Lauren

    • Jennifer Lang January 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

      That it was indeed. I asked P when the next one/treat is. We’re not sure…

  5. lori January 21, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    Your description of Bereshit brought back wonderful memories of a recent vacation there. But you did a lot more than we did – all I remember is sitting by the pool and eating!!

    • Jennifer Lang January 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

      I think most people sit around all day. The parking lot was full at all times. We did a lot of coming and going but then we’ve never been the norm.

  6. Jill January 21, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Jennifer
    We saw this property when we went into the Rimon crater . It looked beautiful and I’m glad you enjoyed ! Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks – it is bitter cold so enjoy the warmth! Xoxox

    • Jennifer Lang January 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

      I say put it on your list for next trip–without the kids…

  7. Jesse and Maris January 21, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Sounds wonderful. A few years back we went to Israel with Bet Am Shalom. Les took us out into that desert to a high ridge where we watched the sun rise and had Shacharit services and private meditation. You looked at a world and a place that had not changed since Moses’s time and Joshua actually passed through. It was one of the most spiritual moments of my life.

    • Jennifer Lang January 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

      All I can say is when are you coming back? Seriously, the drive south into the desert is stunning and stark and so, so surprising.

  8. auntie mona January 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    I’ve also read about it and seen pictures; and it sounds perfectly amazing, yoga and all!!!

    Will be on our list for next visit, too!

    xoxo

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