What I love about Chol Hamoed (the intermediate days of the holiday) is that we get a chance to explore our new country. The weather has been beautiful, hot, but not uncomfortably so, blue skies--perfect weather.
On Sunday we met some friends who were visiting from America. When they saw us, they immediately noticed that we were all wearing hats and carrying water bottles. None of them had hats, although they did have some water. In Israel you don't go anywhere without a hat, liters and liters of water and sunscreen. Remember that when you come for a visit.
Yeah, but the hat is supposed to be on the head.
Anyhoo, we went to a place known as "Churvat Midras", or the Midras Ruins. This is a fairly easy hiking route of about 2 kilometers a stone's throw from the city of Beit Shemesh. The ruins contain a series of caves and tunnels from the Bar-Kochba era, some underground burial chambers and a pyramid. It is a hike with beautiful views:
The kids (and some adults) had a great time crawling through underground tunnels and caves and barely complained on the ascent up to see the pyramids (okay, it was a "pyramid-like structure" that was probably a mausoleum.) All-in-all a good day.
Yesterday's hike was spectacular. My friend Marta found a posting on some internet list she belongs to by an Anglo-Israeli tour guide. It was advertised as "Whose beach is it anyway?". We hiked for about 4 kilometers along a path and then over sand dunes. We learned about the history of Tel Dor, where archeologists are finding civilization upon civilization who have been here in this land. I never get tired of hearing this stuff. Dor was a port city mentioned in Joshua, and and in Kings. It has been ruled by the (from memory, not necessarily in order) Canaanites, the Philistines, Phoenicians, Israelites, Persians, Greeks, Assyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Crusaders, Turks, the British......and now we are here. On the
Tel (a Tel is a man-made mound created by the destruction of a civilization and the establishment of a new one on the ruins of the old one; they are all over this country) there are findings up through the Crusader era. What I thought as I reached the peak of the Tel and looked at the gorgeous views of the beach (thought by some to be the most beautiful beach in Israel) in front of me and Zichron Yaakov behind me was we must never take this land for granted. We are here today by G-d's Grace...
Much of the Tel Dor to Nachsholim hike is on a Nature Preserve, and therefore protected and maintained by the Israel Nature Authority. Some of the beaches are not and we saw people camping there...which looked like an excellent idea. Unfortunately we also alot of garbage, which thorougly saddens me. I can't say I'm the most environmentally minded person in the world, but I do try to leave a place I've camped or picnic-ed in the same condition as I when I got there, and maybe even a bit better. I wish everyone else would do the same.
Just another comment on Israeli's going on tiyulim (trips/hikes). These people have got to be the most resourceful people in the world. We sat down for lunch on a blanket on the sand and then I pulled out the matzoh, hard-boiled eggs, some tuna and a couple of cut-up vegetables. All over the beach, people were setting up homes! They set up protective shade from the sun, tables, chairs, pots full of food, including the requisite "ketzitzot" (patties in yummy sauces), "salatim" (salads), "shnitzel" (you should know what that is), for the sefardim, rice. I felt very inadequate indeed. A hard-boiled egg never tasted so pitiful....
Unfortunately, most of the pictures I took have my kids in them, and they do not want to be seen on the blog. And so I leave you with little proof as to how gorgeous the place is. You'll have to take my word for it; it's a great hike, with some fun rock-climbing and lots of history. If you'd like specifics feel free to e-mail me.
I'd love to hear what you did on your vacations....
BTW, Haveil Havalim is up at Shtetl Fabulous. Enjoy.
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