A new travel and a new story which begins with a sunrise…
6 AM. I am in the North of Israel, sitting on a terrace of a small little cottage in Kinneret, close to the Sea of Galilee and the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in Jordan River waters. Mush the dog is sitting next to me watching my moves while another 4 cats are looking at me impatient waiting to be fed. The sun is revealing itself from behind the hills climbing slowly on the sky. I am holding a steamy cup of coffee in my hand, but my eyes are caught by the miracle of the sunrise.
It is a new day and I am in Israel again. Although I was planning that in my next visit to Israel to spend more time hiking in the desert this time I went to the North of Israel. More precisely to Kinneret which is not far from the Sea of Galilee or lake Kinneret.
Now, when I am writing this article, I realize that visiting the North of Israel before going to the desert respectively Ramon Crater, it helped me to understand better the dynamic of the region. The North of Israel is close to the Great Rift Valley place of origin, which is in Beqaa Valley in Lebanon and ends in Mozambique in Africa. The Sea of Galilee was formed on the Rift Valley being at 209 m under the sea level which makes it the lowest freshwater lake on Earth. The lake is fed by the Jordan River waters which flow along the Rift Valley being the main source for the Dead Sea as well. Personally I am fascinated by geology and what I saw in Galilee put in a different perspective everything I knew about the Great Rift Valley and made me more determinate to have my next trip to the desert.
This visit to Israel showed me again, that although I know so many things about Israel there are still lots of things I have to discover. I was expecting a vacation without the sense of time being in the countryside away from everything. Instead, I was discovering the geological past of the region and its tumultuous history. Golan Heights bears the scars of that geological past, the back basaltic rocks which were scattered everywhere are an indicator for the volcanic past of the region. Seeing the remains of the ancient dwellings hidden behind the yellow tall grass I understood why people choose to live there despite the harsh weather, the building material is laying everywhere and in spite of the rough appearance natural springs can be found around.
One of the natural springs is Eden Spring, an oasis of shadow and coolness, home for the stone crab and yellow frog.
The Golan Heights has a beauty comparable with some parts I saw in Tenerife Island. I was ignoring totally the fact that not too far was the Syrian border where death has its homeland and I was enjoying the sight of the Sea of Galilee seen from Golan Heights when the sun was setting behind the hills.
The geological past was not the only thing which make me wonder, though. The Kinneret Moshav was one of the first settlements. after Degania Kibbutz where Jewish people came to settle during the Second Aliyah 1904 to 1914. They left Russian Empire and parts of Eastern Europe, after numerous pogroms and after the May Laws to find a place where they can raise they children without the fear of being killed and without suffering abuses and humiliations. They came to Galilee and they did what they knew best, agriculture. My neighbor, Amit told me how his family was one of the first 8 families founders of Kinneret Village. How their struggle was not easy and how since the beginning they had to confront with malaria which caused many deaths. How in order to drain the soil they brought in the Eucalyptus tree a water heavy drinker.
That`s why nowadays there are so many Eucalyptus trees in Israel although they are not native to the region. But the malaria was not the only enemy they confront with, in 48 during the Arab-Israeli war they were under the Syrian army attack. Many died that day, including my neighbor grandfather, but they manage to push back the Syrian army.
The night came. It was a full moon that night. I was again on the little terrace this time holding a steaming cup of tea, made with fresh mint, sage, and basil. Mush was sleeping at my feet, one of the cats was sleeping on my lap while the other were chasing one another playing. I was trying to see the stars, but the moonlight was too bright, no Milky Way in sight that night. The coyotes were howling somewhere in the lemon orchard. A stranded coyote was responding from the nearby palm trees orchard. Those were the sounds of the night and although I was hearing them for the first time it seemed to me so normal. From where I was standing I could see most of the lake. Lights were blinking around the lake and up on the surrounding hills. I was trying to imagine how the first settlers must have felt when they were here for the first time beginning a new life, a new life in freedom.
My vacation though was not only deepening into history and geology, but it had the laid-back element as well. After all I went to Israel looking for the sun and to throw myself in the arms of the sea.
Mush and Smush were my companions every morning when I was walking through the lemon trees. The bougainvillea bushes were not safe around me. well, no flowering bush was safe around me those days, because every day I was picking flowers trying to make new bouquets.
Passionflower was smiling to me while climbing on the fences so I had to use its delicate flowers in my bouquets.
Eucalyptus and olive branches were part of my florist work of art also.
Drops of color which were filling me with happiness. Those bouquets were bringing together everything I loved about that place. I made those bouquets because I proposed to myself that everywhere I go to make a bouquet out of what I can find on the side of the roads, in the gardens or in the trees. A true florist can make a bouquet out of what nature gives because nature is always so generous.
I came for the sea and I found myself on the shores of a freshwater lake, even more, I was few meters from the place where John the Baptist baptized Jesus in Jordan River waters, Yarden in Hebrew. If I were religious this thing would have been fascinating for me but I was more interested in the fact that I was on the Great Rift Valley.
I walked with Mush on the river banks looking at the calm river waters and the ropes hanging above it. The other day during the weekend lots of kids were swinging on those ropes jumping in the waters, the entire valley being filled with their giggles. Now it was just silence and piles of garbage. Yes, I really think there is a problem how local tourist is respecting the nature.
After walking on the river banks, I was always going to the lake. As always Mush was watching every move trying to guess which way I was heading. I like dogs, but I am more attached to cats since I have a cat myself, but Mush managed to touch my heart and I become very fond of him. He was even bathing with me in the Sea of Galilee waters and I was singing to him, good thing that none was too close to hear me because definitely they must have thought that I am crazy.
Days were passing and my vacation come to an end and I had to return to Tel Aviv to take my flight back to Bucharest. On my way to Tel Aviv, I stopped to Caesarea. I did not want to go and see the archeological site, I preferred to be on the beach close to the sea, although the storm was close battering the shores and the waves were good for surfers not for swimmers, a beginner like me.
The show was magnificent. The sky was carrying the scars of the storm, but the sun was breaking through the layer of clouds. The display of shadows and lights was absolutely incredible and I took so many pictures because every minute was bringing new colors and new images and I was trying to keep them all.
I sat there on the beach letting the foamy waves embrace me. I felt deliriously happy. That was what I was looking for! The salty taste of the seawater, the smell of the sea, the numerous shades of blue and those waves which angrily were biting from the shores.
I walked barefoot and sand was sticking on my skin. I missed that sensation so much. I would have stayed there forever but the storm was getting close and I had to return to Tel Aviv.
I spent some time in Azrieli Center hiding from the rain since I was wearing a summer dress and sandals. I knew before I left Galilee that is going to rain, but deep inside I wanted the sun and I was hoping to have it despite the proximity of the rain so I wanted to keep the Summer feeling with me by wearing a Summer dress and sandals.
But a mall is not a place where I will ever spend too much time in, so, I went to Sarona Market.
A very modern market where one can get the real taste of Israeli food. Israeli restaurants are sophisticated, must be because Israelis are demanding when it comes to food and the restaurants from Sarona Market seem to meet the Israeli exigences. Personally, though, I prefer the no name restaurant from Caesarea where aside from my grilled chicken breast I had 10 different types of salads, all so delicious. But I really liked Sarona Market with its bakeries where I felt like a child in a candy shop or the ice cream I ate from The Gelato Factory which was absolutely divine!!! I can say it was the best till now. I am really fussy when it comes to ice cream, one of the few things I am fussy about, so when I am saying that an ice cream is good this means that is really GOOD!!!
The entire concept in Sarona Market is very modern and fits in the image I create in my mind about Tel Aviv and I have to admit that I was really impressed by it. Tel Aviv surprised me again when I thought I knew everything there is to know about it.
The rain was over. also was my vacation. The sun was shining over Tel Aviv leaving the storm behind same as always. I went to the old Port to say goodbye to the sea, to say goodbye to Tel Aviv, to say goodbye to Israel.
The sun was falling down in the arms of the sea lured by the sea`s beauty. There, in the old port life was following its normal path. Couples were walking holding hands watching the sunset. Same as me maybe they were also having something to look for. The sun was setting and my trip was ending. The end of something is always the beginning of something else, same as after a sunset there is always a sunrise because when a day is ending and new one begins
I left my home away from home, but I took with me memories. Glimpses of life.. life as it is..glimpses of reality. I took this images with me which now turned into words so I tell you my story about “Traveling, Flowering, and Photographing in Israel“…
In loving memory of my dear friend Noam Avnon. I will keep on traveling and I will keep on writing my dear friend …