The next day, we went to the visitor centre in Mitzipi Ramon and our host took us to see a movie about the desert. We enjoyed the fabulous vistas at a lookout point and Adi dropped us off at the Alpaca farm and left us to our own devices. When we arrived he was adament that he only had one set of keys which were lost by one couchsurfer, thus the blue lanyard attached, so "BE CAREFUL GUYS!". We walked around the farm, had a presentation about Illamas and Alpacas and why there was farm here. Above you can see Jack admiring 'Bambi' the Ilama who was used as a demonstration. Ilamas and Alpacas are indigenous to South America but the owners brought them to Israel after living with native peoples in many countries (such as Bolivia and Peru) and learning about the ways of the animals and their sacredness to the peopes there.
In Israel the Ilamas have begun to be used by the Israeli army to carry supplies. They can withstand extreme temperature, can carry a lot of weight on saddle bags and are very calm. They could be in the midst of war, with bullets flying overhead and will sit quiet and still, chewing their cud. The lady doing our presentation was very nice but did not possess all the words in english to describe some of the Ilamas habits, we had a great time trying to use words to help her describe their poo: "excrement?", "feces?", and we finally decided "turd" was appropriate...like a bunny, heh heh.
The Alpacas are smaller animals and like the ilamas are distant relatives of the camel. They are mostly used for their soft wool, and are a bit more excitable then the Ilamas. When the presentation was through, we were given a canister of food pellets and let loose to walk around. The Ilamas and alpacas mostly were given free range of the farm and ket in check by the border collies...to make sure they did not run away.
We wondered out among them when we heard a peculiar noise. "grough, grough, grough, spppp......", the alpacas had by this point encircled poor Jack as I jumped backwards nervously. He was trying to reach out and feed them, but when one animal was not getting its share it prepared to spit! Ilamas and alpacas spit their cud, food regurgitated from one stomache to another (similar to a cow). We both got spit on a few times but it washed off, although the smell lingered. By the bottom of the food canister we were more content to feed the ponies, donkeys, horses, ilamas and even the dogs...but nt the alapaca's because we prefered not to get spit on.
Afterwards we set off into the desert and walked back into town, had lunch and meandered. We were about to pick up some groceries and to our surprise the keys were missing!!!! An epic search ensued. We walked back to the patio we ate our falafal on, we walked back to the apartment, back to the watertower, we even had the audacity to sneak by our hosts place and peak in his truck to see if they fell on the seat! We felt horrible! After his implicite instructions to "NOT LOSE THE KEY!", back up the big hill to the visitor centre, Jack and I walked dejectedly in the glaring, mid afternoon desert sun. We searched the entire centre while one of the ladies working there diaed the Alapaca farm. The keys were found!!! Now we only had to walk all the way outside f town, about a five mile trek to the farm. We set out, with water in tow and walked along the crater edge, the Ramon Mahktesh. We met a nice dude bicycling and chatted, rested beside an army compound (where we saw an Ibex and two babies!), and began to cut through a rocky outcrop when a large blazing white landrover pulled into view on the road. We ran towards it and the lady asked if we needed a ride. "We are going the otherway"..."jump in" she said and she drove us to the farm, we picked up the keys and deposited us outside of a key cutting centre. She thought we were nuts walking out there without a hat! All is well that ends well, we presented the newly cut keys, our fantastic adventure and a botte of wine to Adi and his wife later that evening...