So take a look at the titles of this and the previous posts..have you started to notice a theme?? Is our guide trying to get us all killed?? First cliffs, then drowning hazards…
We drove about an hour top the northern most community in Israel….a stones throw from Lebanon and about 4o km from Beirut. It is quite an odd feeling knowing that we were right there….on the boarder…staring at “the enemy”…..the villages don’t look any different….there was no visible fence or wall where we were….but there are several millennium of bad blood, fighting and war. Honestly, it’s a shame. More about that later.
Anyway, I wasn’t nervous about this like I was the previous day….and the reality is that out hike through the Snir River was WAY fun!!! The boys thought it was a riot that they got to walk right down the middle of a river!! It was a bit cold, but all three even tool the opportunity to shower beneath a waterfall.
OK…now that you’ve seen the pic, you’re saying that’s not a river…we have streams bigger than that in the States!! Remember that the average annual rainfall in this area is measured in centimeters, not inches or even feet, and the whole area is drying up. It’s amazing that they even have this much water in the river….oh, and it runs into the Jordan River, which honestly is not much wider!!!
After our hike, it was off to the Golan Heights. For those who are not entirely familiar with Middle East history, the Golan Heights were part of Syria until Israel occupied the land after the 1967 war. Shortly after that, Israel passed a law annexing this land and “officially” making it part of Israel. It remains a source of contention today, as the Syrians want it back and the peace process seems to hinge on that. Now I have to say, before 1967 this land was barren. It has only been through Israeli investment, technology and ingenuity that it has become irrigated and an agricultural center for various fruits and vegetables….what used to be just a vast landscape on a high plateau, is now beautiful and productive for the Israelis….but the Syrians want it back….its complex issue and I don’t have any answers!!
We rented ATVs and took the boys out into the country. The highlight of the ride was when we rode through an old Syrian military base and Police/Military Office Academy. The base has been abandoned, and the Academy building was destroyed during the bombings in 1967. Some of the images are sobering reminders of what happened here and what will happen again in the future unless the peace process can be successful!
As one of the boys climbed out of the bunker on Mount Bental, I am reminded that this is a reality for the Israelis every day. We are lucky that our concerns in the US are largely for those men and women whom we have sent to the Middle East to fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Israel, it is real.
Please don’t get me wrong, we never felt unsafe and war does not seem to be a front of mind issue for the people with whom I spoke. But, it is part of their reality. They live among mine fields, bunkers and bomb shelters. As an outsider I was equally impressed with both the beauty of the landscape as well as the sobering reality of the on-going political and religious conflict….oh, did I mention that the guy who rented us the SUV’s had two 9mm hand guns stuffed the back of his pants?
After our adventure through the Golan Heights, we stopped at a local farm, where we bought some cheese, wine and olive oil and returned home for a wonderful dinner! Tomorrow….I’m not sure yet….you’ll have to wait until my next update and you’ll find out just a few hours after I do.
Don’t forget, you can check out my slide show for more images from the day’s events.
Today started early in the Galilee….I was up at the crack of dawn. With the morning light I was able to get this nice shot of the house in which we are staying
As you can see, its call Smadar View Villa
Once everyone joined me among the waking world (which did not take place until close to 10:00 am), we met our guide, Yaniv, and headed out for a day of hiking at Mount Arbel in the Galilee. Now, those of you who knew me when I was much younger know that I used to do a great deal of backpacking and rock climbing…and it never made me nervous. Well, I guess the combination of fatherhood, a small child whose blood sugar dropped to 40, sheer cliffs that are nearly 300 feet high, and no ropes or other safety gear is the exact combination needed to make this old veteran climber climb right out of his skin….I was just a tad nervous!!!
Nice view, isn’t it!! That’s Yaniv on the left. He did an awesome job with the kids. They were particularly nervous about this hike, especially after having stood at this look-out spot and seeing the chasm down which they were about to descend.
Off we went…Jake was being extremely bold and did not seem to care about the fact that one slip and he would plummet to the floor below…it wasn’t until we were about half way down that we realized his blood sugar was about 40!! A juice box and a few glucose tablets later and we were off again. Here is one last shot just to give you some perspective about what we accomplished….check out the tiny buildings below….this was steep and high!!!
Once we got down we had a leisurely hike the rest of the way down to the Bedouin village below….well almost. Herb, my father-in-law, and Ryan got ahead of the rest of us just enough that we could not see which way they went at a fork in the trail. After a brief exploration of the options, Rachel and I did what we have been taught by watching Survivor Man and Man vs. Wild…we guessed!!! We headed down the trail to the right, past the Muslim cemetery and down to the spot where the cars were waiting for us. Thus ends the adventure of Mount Arbel.
Oh, one last photo of historic and biblical note…according to Yaniv, the view of Galilee below encompasses the land in which about 80% of the New Testiment took place.
Not much else to tell about the day….lunch, shopping, dinner, and off to bed. Tomorrow – hiking through the waterfalls and renting ATVs in the Golan Heights.
If you want to see more photos of the day’s adventure, check out the slide show on my web site.
Lilah Tov (that’s good night for those who don’t speak Hebrew)!!