Saying Farewell to Israel - Part 1

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Middle East » Israel
September 10th 2009
Published: November 18th 2009
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It seems impossible that I have been away and on my adventures for nearly seven months. The time has flown by. Sometimes I think I have not done very much since I have been here. Then I look through all the ‘Travel Notes’ that some of you have been brave enough to read through, and I realise I have done so much, learn a lot and had the privilege of meeting some really inspiring people, been welcomed into their lives and homes and had a real look into how people live here in Israel.

The last couple of weeks I have been out on trips to places of interest, been to Hamat Gadder in the north to the hot spring baths, and my, were they hot, made me feel quite dizzy when I got out. The baths were lovely hot whirlpools, with waterfalls, the sulphur could be smelt from a few kilometres away. The journey down to the pools was wonderful. the beautiful landscape which I had seen in the spring, green and vibrant with wild flowers and wildlife, now just as lovely, but in a very different way. The heat of the summer, scorching all around, but the dried flower heads were lovely sculptures to see.

On the way to Hamat Gadder, we stopped at a place called Capernaeum, on the side of the Sea of Galilee, this was where there were several Holy places to visit, the Greek Authodox Church, a Christian Church, a Catholic Church, all in prime spots looking out onto the sea. We were able to find a gangplank in a deserted area and walk out on it into the Sea, it was wild and windy with a lovely cooling breeze in the heat. I am not particularly religious, but it was a really tranquil moment, it reminded me a bit of looking out onto some of the lochs in Scotland.

Another Trip to the north we went to a place called Gamla. This was an ancient city that had been over run by the Romans in a most horrific way, people thrown from the village into the valley below, everyone, women, children, babes in arms. Of the whole village only two women survived. The Ancient city is now a tourist attraction, but it was very well done, not spoilt or over restored, the views from the city were breathtaking with Vultures and Eagles riding the thermals above. Gamla was a village that people had heard about, but were not sure that it ever really existed, it cannot bee seen from any angle, due to the structure of the mountains and it was not discovered until after the war of 1967 when it was captured from the Syrians. At the same spot, but on a hill just above Gamla there is a nature reserve for Vultures, and a lovely walk to the highest waterfall in Israel From the bird hide I watched the Vultures flying and drifting, so close I could nearly touch them. I have to say, all the tourist attractions here in Israel are very different from home, as there is just not the population of visitors to fill the places up, so sometimes you have these places virtually to yourself.

Also in the North we visited a reconstruction of the original Talmudic village/town of Katzrin. Again, it was well done, without being spoilt, with very few others there, so I was able to walk around the village almost alone. There was a video to watch giving more insight into the life and religion of the Talmudic inhabitants.

Another interesting evening was a trip to a place called BatYam which is more towards the South of the country. It is lovely seaside town, with a lovely wide promenade. Here there was a festival of street entertainment. From seven until the finale at around eleven, there was an array of different street performances, people on stilts, a fantastical production set in a witches kitchen, with amazing potions of different colours, giving off bubbles, and smoke, so entertaining, even though I could not understand the language. A really talented young boy of about 10 who put on a juggling and balancing show, a street theatre or two of different descriptions. A performance of trapeeze art with some doing shows using fire. In all there must have been about twenty different shows going on at different intervals, but the one that took the biscuit for me was a man doing a dance to an opera, and his partner in the dance was a huge JCB! Sounds unlikely, and I am amazed that he didn’t fall off the bucket, or get squashed by it, but it was a great show and the driver was a very talented guy.

My latest visit on the ‘Farewell Tour’ was to Tel Aviv, thought about going to see Madonna, but the tickets were too expensive so I went to see a local production by the Mayumana group. This was a fabulous
production of dance, music, song, drumming and acrobatics. A two hour show put on by a group of dancers/musicians. The pace was fast, the drumming vibrant, there was humour, audience participation and the dancing/acrobatics were just awesome. I had been worried it would be a bit ‘lord of the dance’ (not my thing) but it was two hours that flew by as if it were minutes, they were that good.
I now have only a few weeks left, and I hope to visit a few of the people I have volunteered with before I leave. I am off to swim with the dolphins next week, then I will be making sure I have all my inoculations done, sorting my packing ready for my departure. Will I be sad to leave? Yes and no, yes because I have some great memories and made some good friendships, no because I have missed Sian, Ad and Frankster, not to mention my friends. However, after a very brief visit to see Sian I will be off on the further adventures, this time South America…..more volunteering….so sadly for you all, the emails may well continue.


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