March 10, 2013

Oh yeah, Israel.

Life in Israel is very hard. I think maybe my recent posts have displayed some of that.
But this weekend Itzik and I drove North with friends for a weekend in the Kineret (or Sea of Galilee),
and I remembered the that life here can also be very special, peaceful, and completely beautiful.

The four of us (Michal, Asaf, Itzik and I) drove about two hours North, 
rode around the Galilee region and the Golan Heights, 
and stopped in a nature reserve to sit and enjoy the scenery.

Have I mentioned Itzik cut his hair?

There were cattle from nearby farmers wandering freely through the parking lot. 

The last time I was in this area was during summer months, when it is hot and dry and brown.
In the spring the wilderness is still intimidatingly beautiful, but in a completely different way.
Each time I come here, I am struck with the knowledge that I am experiencing something rare and special.
This time of year the hills and mountains surrounding the Sea of Galilee are bursting with lush wildlife, the hillsides are jagged rocks coated with soft grass, flowers, cacti, and trees.
The colors are vivid, and the landscape is vast.
It's truly breathtaking.

We stayed on a moshav (similar to a kibbutz- an intentional gated community, but without communal living practices) and walked out of our tsimmer (bungalow? cabin?) to a view from the hills North of the Sea of Galilee. Unfortunately the recent dust storm moved North with us,
so we couldn't see the water very often, but the dust did give the scenery an odd haze that really made you feel like you were walking through a dream.
A dry, hot dream.

What does a sunset look like in a dust storm? Like this:

photo credit to Michal for this incredible shot

These are the clouds of dust on Saturday, moving North and reflecting the setting sun.

We woke up early on Saturday, ate breakfast, and then spent the day driving around the Golan Heights
(only a few miles from Syria, by the way).

This is the border fence and Syria on the other side.

We stopped at a few roadside attractions (like mini waterfalls and artist colonies).

Sandals! In March! Yes please.

After taking in the landscape we went to a place called Nahal El Al, a deep crevasse of a riverbed that in the winter is a legit river, but in the summer a dry canyon. This time of year, its a garden. 

We hiked for about three hours (an hour down, a little more than an hour up, and some time at the bottom for a quick dip and a cup of coffee near the waterfall).

The water was freezing cold. I did not join them. This looks lovely but its actually c-r-a-z-y.

I even had time for some yoga along the way.
I love my life.

Honestly, this weekend I fell in love with Israel all over again.
I remembered what it is like to be in the land of the Bible. 
To hike the hills where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob struggled and met G-d. 
What a gift that I can meet Him here too,
and somehow I think it's easier here than anywhere else I've ever been.  

It was equally amazing to me how all of this is just outside my back door,
and how easy it has become to forget.


Maggy said...

I was JUST telling Kurt this weekend that we live in ISRAEL and we're stuck in this little bubble that feels like we DON"T live in Israel. I told him I wanted to to go to Bible places and re-connect. And here you are. It's like you get me.
Itzik's head must be cold.

Emily {exclaim and murmur} said...

...making me miss my time there with Ofer last spring. Pretty pics.