Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Forget the Bible...Today, We Ride

While my son and his friend visited the Holy Land we took a few days off of our 'heavy' sightseeing schedule to visit the Sinai. When I asked my sons and their girlfriends what they wanted to do when the came to visit, Dan said very simply, "I want to ride a camel in the desert!" We did a whole lot more than that.When I first visited the Sinai I stayed in Taba which is just over the border. Realizing that we had to drive a distance to get to St. Catherines and Mt. Sinai this time we stayed in Dahab. In Arabic the name Dahab means gold. The beaches were golden and wonderful. Dahab is about halfway down the Sinai Peninsula between Taba and Sharm El Sheikh.
Why leave the resort pool.... ...for this?? I know, it's crazy!
Brandi stargazing on the beach. But enough stargazing. We donned our helmets and jumped on our ATV's and headed down the coast to the lagoon for some snorkeling
Gettin' down with the home boys of the local Bedouin 'hood. Of course, having some tea.
After snorkeling for an hour we jumped back on our ATV's and headed for the desert. Dan and Brandi's first (maybe only) camel riding experience. One of them is having fun. And, as you will remember, this is where I met my love, Al Foud.
The camels rested and one of them really rested.
Local teen firing up the kettle...tea time.
Tourist + Bedouin = Shopping
After we dismounted and collapsed on the pillows in the tent one of the boys who lead the camels also lead us to the top of a mountain. I stayed and had more tea. (Photo by Dan)
The sun was beginning to relax and so were we. The shadows were long on the sand. This photo of me on Al Foud was inspired by a similar photograph by my friend Bill Glucroft.
Love Sinai!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Love Story

How lucky was I to have been chosen to get the angry camel. This is Al Foud. He had a mind of his own. Last week we were in the Sinai for two days and took a day tour. Here's how it went...ATV to the end of the lagoon, snorkeling, ATV to the desert, met our camels and rode to a Bedouin tent, climbed a mountain, rode the camels back to the ATV's and then ATV'd back to the resort.

Al Foud was not so bad after all, once he calmed down. We approached the camels from the ATV's and one of the boys who was in charge of the camels motioned for me to get on Al Foud.

This is how I met him, agitated.

I said to the guide, 'this one' and he said, 'yes, he's just mad'. I thought, why me? So many things flashed in and out of my mind at that moment. In camel language that only the camels and camel-boys know, a sound was made for Al Foud to kneel down and pick me up. Before I knew it I was up six feet off of the ground on Al Foud's back. I led by example...I heard two shrill sounds from my son and his friend; and I knew they had also mounted their camels. Luckily for me, I think, this was not my first experience riding a camel in the Sinai!

We began our journey. Now Al Foud was obviously the leader of the pack. The boy led me and Al Foud first up the path and the others followed. You really can't imagine how disconcerting it is when the boy lets go of the reigns and gives them to you. I gave the boy a hesitant smile as I grabbed them. So me and Al Foud were off. Not one person or thing was in front of us except the wide, open desert. I prayed that Al Foud knew where we were going. He didn't disappoint me.

Al Foud would stop along the way to pick up bamboo shoots and all sorts of odds and ends to munch on. His head sounded very hollow. The other camels would pause too to let Al Foud graze and if they didn't Al Foud would push his way through the camels who had begun to pass him. He didn't care that he was so close to the camels that I had to push people's legs out of the way so that we could pass and get to the front again. His leadership skills were remarkable.

A half an hour later we were at the Bedouin tent. We dismounted our camels and walked over for some refreshing hot and very sweetened tea. This is a standard when visiting Bedouin..and you DON'T turn it down - a grave insult. Al Foud sat down and took a rest. The other camels did too; one of them even laid flat out on his side.

After climbing the mountain (I didn't do this - there are some lines that I won't cross anymore - I just stayed with the Bedouin and drank tea), drinking yet more tea, buying jewelry (yes, buying jewelry, Bedouin appear from nowhere, put out a cloth and show their mother's handwork!), and resting under the tent we were ready to get back to the resort. What was funny was that our guide who had dirt biked up and met us was really just enjoying himself and wasn't taking the clue that we were ready to return to the resort.

Finally, I said in my broken Arabic, "Yalla, habibi!" Let's go dear! He took the not so subtle hint, threw back his remaining tea and took us over to the camels. The camels were still not so anxious to get back up again. I asked the boy what the name of my camel was. He said, "Al Foud." I didn't hear him well so I said, VERY LOUDLY, "Al Foud??"

At that moment Al Foud heard his name, jumped up to all fours and came right over to me. He had the look of luv in his eyes and I thought he was going to kiss me his camel lips got so close to mine. Everyone laughed. I didn't at first, really we had just met. The boy calmed Al Foud down again and I was able to mount him quickly and easily. Back to the ATV's and the turquoise blue water of the pool at the resort.

So was my afternoon with Al Foud. There will never be another camel in my life such as Al Foud.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tel Dan Nature Reserve

Gan Eden - Garden of Eden. This way to Paradise!
Tel Dan Nature Reserve is located in the Golan Heights near Mount Hermon, the tallest mountain in Israel. The Dan River is the largest and most important source of the Jordan River. Its springs provide water fed by the snow and rain on Mt. Hermon to the area. Because of its location Tel Dan is rich with plant life and animals. Within Tel Dan there is Ancient Dan which includes walls and gates and ritual sites dating back to the Neolithic Age - the beginning of the 5th millennium BCE. There is evidence that there was a city built early in the Canaanite period.

The tell is identified with the city of Laish, captured by the tribe of Dan. The tribe found it difficult to deal with the Philistines and so headed up north. "They proceeded to Laish....they rebuilt the town and settled there, and they named the town Dan, after their ancestor Dan who was Israel's son." Judges 18:27-29
Entrance to Tel Dan and next to the son Dan - no relation.
This is a must do on your next visit.
Local wildlife.
The Israelite Gate - built of three pairs of pilasters, apparently from the First Temple period (1006 - 586 BCE).
The Dan River
The Wading Pool. This is a shallow pool where everyone can wade in the cool water from one of the springs. The day we visited there was a field trip for a group of school girls. They were having a great time!
The Flour Mill was built around 150 years ago and operated on water power until 1948. The mill has two pairs of millstones.
Pistachio Lookout. Here you have a view of the reserve, the Hula Valley, the Naphtali Mountains, Mount Hermon and the Golan Heights. The lookout is named after the large Atlantic pistachio tree that grows there.

This is a remarkable reserve with so much to explore. Ancient ruins, flora, fauna, springs, a wading pool, hiking - really it is Paradise.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

For the Beauty of the Earth

Can worry make you live longer? Why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow.
But I tell you that King Solomon with all his wealth wasn't as well clothed as one of them.
God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields,
even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow.
He will surely do even more for you!
Why do you have such little faith?

Don't worry and ask yourselves, "Will we have anything to eat?

Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?"

Only people who don't know God are always worrying about such things. Your God in heaven knows that you need all of thee. But more than anything else,
put God's work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.

Don't worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself.

You have enough to worry about today.
Matthew 6: 28-33

Friday, June 20, 2008


Welcome to Amirim. Amirim is a vegetarian moshav in the upper Galilee about 20 minutes from Safed. WOW! This is the place to go if you want some good food, great accommodations and a spectacularly relaxing visit while you are in the Galilee.

Pardon the infomercial here but...we stayed at Zivon Guesthouse. The rooms were warm and lovely and very large each with its own kitchenette. When I entered my room there were balloons on my bed!!! I think I had the honeymoon suite. What were they thinking? We really enjoyed our two night stay and agreed that we really didn't need to see anything else after Zivon!
My front door.
Anat, the guesthouse owner loved gardening. Her roses were quite lovely and she had lemon verbena, mint and lots of other herbs planted around Zivon. We could pick them and make tea in our rooms.Outside of the room next to me where my son stayed was this swinging chair. Which, of course, we all fought to sit in. How antithetical to such a quiet and peaceful place.
The view from the porch and the swinging chair - see what I mean?
One of the better features of Zivon was the hot tub. I'm a hot tubber from way back - eat your hearts out Marcia and Chuck. This is the way down to the hot tub inside of the little cabin. The view as you can see was marvelous.
The TUBView from the tub at night.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Ancient Seaport of Akko

Akko, on the cost of the of the Mediterranean Sea, is a mix of Crusader ruins, Gothic archways and Mosques and minarets. The Old City of Akko is charming and filled with atmosphere and history. If you ever happen upon this part of the world, Akko is a place that you must make a priority to visit.

"The origins date back to Canaanite times, but the form in which it survives today was set by the Arabs and their Crusader foes. After the Crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099, they seized Akko as their main port and lifeline back to Europe. Lost at one point to the Muslim armies under Saladin, it was regained by Richard I, the Lionheart. Crusader Akko was destroyed by the victorious Arab armies in 1291 and what can be seen today is largely an 18th century Turkish town built on the site of the old."

There was so much to do here and our time was limited. Here are just a couple of highlights from the ancient city. We didn't get to see even half of what there is to see in the Old City. Inside the Citadel and the Subterranean Crusader city.

Listening to the self guided tour.
The Story of the Last Bath Attendant...Turkish bath that is...during the Ottoman Period. The baths served as a social center where people met for rest, entertainment and banquets. An imaginary story tells the history of Akko during the period.
Old meets new
Mosque of El-Jazzar. "Akko lay semi-derelict for more than 400 years after its destruction in 1291. Dahr el-Amer and his successor, Ahmed Pasha el-Jazzar governed the Ottoman city in the second half of the 18th century. El-Jazzar was a prolific builder and among his legacy is the mosque which bears his name." A walk down through the souk to the ancient seawall netted a BIG catch.