I had already started to write this evening’s blog this morning, as it was not intended to have anything to do with today’s events. It has more to do with some overall themes of travel that I have experienced. My friend Eileen may know the issues to which I am referring, however the rest of you will have to wait another day because one of today’s events just can’t go unmentioned.
Today was all about the water. It was an adult focused water morning, followed by a kid focused water afternoon. This morning we drove to Hamat Gader hot springs, which is right on the Israel/Jordan border just Southeast of Lake Tiberias. Before I describe our adventure, I have to tell you about laundry.
As I was packing up stuff for the day, I heard a shriek from the laundry room, followed by “Scott you need to do something about this!”. As I turned the corner I found Rachel gingerly holding the lint filter from the dryer, and this little fellow was clinging along with the lint.
Needless to say she was a bit disturbed by this, and I must admit that I was slightly concerned as to how it got into the laundry in the first place. Thankfully it was not found by one of the kids putting on his boxer shorts and getting stung in the frank and beans (that what we call “the private parts” in our house…LOL).
I knocked on the door next store. That’s where the care taker lives. I asked him a few details about the scorpions here, shook out the rest of our clothes and continued preparing for the day’s events.
After I pealed Rachel and the kids away from the internet where they were googling the hundreds of scorpion species to find out how many of them are deadly, and whether or not doing a load of laundry in Israel can kill you, we finally hit the road to the hot springs.
Getting there was quite interesting in itself. The ride took us along the boarder, where bunkers and look-out towers were obvious on both sides. Although there is a friendly treaty between Israel and Jordan, it was clearly not always that way, and you can still see the remnants of conflict from years gone by. It was rather striking to be at the pool at the oasis under the watch of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) from the tower above.
Although this pool above is for kids, just to the other side of it was a mammoth size pool of natural hot mineral springs for the adults. Rachel spent a few minutes soaking in the healing waters before we made good on our promise to go to a more kid friendly place, so we hit the road toward Tiberias and stopped at Gai Beach Water Park.
They had been begging to go there since the first time we passed it as we drove along the shores of Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee). It looked quite nice from the outside, which is clearly not the case for all the beaches along this stretch. Gai Beach, however, looked clean and had bathrooms and shade….a perfect combination!
The kids had a ball here!! We found a vacant umbrella to make our home base for the afternoon, and off we went. There were swimming pools, 5 water slides, and of course the Sea of Galilee from which to chose. The boys loved the slides and I loved the people watching…though a few trips down the slides with the kids was clearly a highlight of my day.
As the people watching goes, it was once again a reminder to me of the stark differences between the various cultures in this region. It was also another reminder of my previous comments related to peaceful coexistence…..Jews, Muslims, and Christians all sharing a swimming pool in the place where it all began….where each of the roots of those cultures emanates from a common beginning. Makes one think just a bit!
This woman stood cooling herself beneath the water for almost half of an hour. Every so often she would look up, glance and smile, and then go back to her solitude beneath the cool water. We stayed at Gai Beach until it was time to head home to get ready for dinner.
Herb and Adrianne had gone to Tel Aviv for the day, so as soon as they got back it was off to Deck’s! Decks is a Kosher BBQ restaurant, and I must say that it rivals any of the places that I have been in Austin, Memphis, or Kansas City!! The BBQ Lamb Ribs grilled over a bed of hickory embers imported from the US were out of the world!!! I have to give thanks to Rabbi Levine back home in Mount Laurel for urging me to go there….it was well worth the trip!!
Ryan developed a low fever this afternoon, so I think tomorrow will be a low key day in order to give him the chance to recover. That will also give me the chance to complete the blog entry that I had started this morning….uh oh…Matt just came out of bed and his blood sugar is almost 400….gotta go figure out what’s going on…
Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Erezt Yisrael (The Land of Israel)!
Being that today is Friday, we were advised to make sure that we stock up the refrigerator this morning, as most of the stores will close early for Shabbat and will not reopen until late tomorrow or Sunday. So we let the boys sleep in late…wait…let’s be honest….we let Rachel sleep in late this morning and then took a trip to the grocery store.
After the cupboards were filled and we had lunch, I headed out with Matt, Ryan and Jake for a boys afternoon at the shore. Now back home that would mean a trip to Wildwood or perhaps Point Pleasant….ice cream, rides on the board walk, and urgent sprints across the hot sand because Jake waits until the VERY last minute to tell us he needs a bathroom NOW!! Well, that did not happen today.
Today was a drive to the shores of the Sea of Galilee…about 10 minutes from the house in which we are staying. Below is the Sea of Galilee, also known as Kinneret, also known as Lake Tiberias, with the City of Tiberias in the background.
It was our first venture to the shores of this historic and vitally important body of water. We spent the drive talking about how vital it is to the water supply of the entire Jordan River Valley, and that Israel gets about a third of its water supply from Galilee. We talked about the religious and historic significance and that although we are going to have fun in the Lake, it is a place that should be treated respectfully. I even talked to them about how some of the beach sections may be split between make and female because of the religious beliefs and customs of the ultra-orthodox Jews.
What I failed to describe to them is that some of those same customs are practiced by Muslims as well…and I failed to consider that since I don’t read Hebrew very well, if at all, that I may end up on a predominantly muslim section of beach…and I failed to consider that rather than screaming at me that he had to go to the bathroom, that Jake would scream at me to “look at that lady who was going swimming with her clothes on. Isn’t that silly Dad!?”
Well, I then IMMEDIATELY considered five (yes, 5) things:
- First I considered whether or not any of the folks about which he screamed anywhere within hearing distance, and if so
- I secondly considered whether or not they heard him, and if so
- I thirdly considered whether or not they spoke English, and if so
- I fourthly considered how I would make my quick escape back to the car, and finally
- I considered how I was going to get a photo of this to help tell the story.
Fortunately I had just attended a class in travel photography taught by two National Geographic Photographers. One of them spoke about the importance of learning how to “shoot from the hip”, or how to hold your camera in such a way that nobody around you will know that you are taking their picture….I guess I learned well!!
I’ll leave you with a parting shot, which is the view we have over the valley in the evening….this taken tonight just after sunset….Shabbat Shalom!