Shabbat, October 7, 2017
This was a day of mixed feelings.
To start off the day, Isaac and I got up early and walked up a hill behind the Kibbutz to watch and photograph the sunrise. We could see the full moon of Sukkot above the hill and we walked towards it. We looked at the different plants that grew there, we looked out over the hills where we could see the Sea of Galilee and lots of different Arab villages nestled (more like crowded) on distant hills.
After breakfast we were off to explore the Sea of Galilee (or “Ga-lil” as they say) and then go get Derek in Tiberius. Derek is a young man that is working as the history teacher at a Christian school in Beth Lecham. He has no-one to celebrate Sukkot with this year. So, we’ve been in contact with him and are planning to pick him up and spend this Shabbat and Sunday with him.
We wouldn’t be picking up Derek until 3:30pm so we drove North from the Kibbutz a bit to explore the Sea of Galilee. We were hoping to walk (and perhaps rent bikes) to explore the Kinneret Trail from Capernaum to the East. We had heard so many good things about it and it was one of Yahshua’s favorite places to go.
Our first stop was Capernaum. We parked outside the gate and got all ready to walk in. All of us in shorts, tank tops and a t-shirt. As we got closer to the gate an old man outside of a tour bus yelled at us. He pointed to a sign. The sign showed what kind of dress was allowed and what wasn’t. We weren’t dressed appropriately so we had to leave. Bummer. But then again, it looked like the entire place was a religious attraction. Probably nothing like when Yahshua was here. It didn’t hurt our feelings too bad.
It was hot out. We were hoping to get in the water. So off we went to explore the Kinneret Trail with our swimsuits in the backpack. We drove past Capernaum and looked for an entry point to the trail. There was a campground, so we entered – hoping we could get on the trail there. It cost 6 shekels per hour to park. That was doable.
At the campground entrance was a sign that this was also the Kinneret Trail. Great! Before we began walking the trail we decided to wander through the campground to the edge of the sea. We wanted to get near the water.
Man, they camp different than we do. They camp anywhere. They camp anyhow. They camp on top of each other. They throw trash. Really people?
The lifeguard tower looked more like a military guard tower than the lifeguard towers that I’m used to in America. A crooked cyclone fence encompassed a small 2-story building. In the front and facing the water was a window that overlooked the swim area. It was propped open and a loud speaker stood beside it. A man stood inside looking out. Inside the cyclone fence and next to the tower was lots of what looked like junk, not necessarily pertaining to the saving of souls on the water. Not too friendly in my opinion.
We went down to the waters edge in the campground. Rocky. Black rock. Slick rock because of all the algae growing on the waters edge. Not too easy or friendly for getting in and out of the water. Weird. Didn’t feel like a place we wanted to hang out at.
We walked back to the Kinneret Trail and decided to hike it towards Capernaum. We could see the church from the trail. Toward the end of the campground was a sukkah in between some palm trees. It was pretty––that is if you cropped the trash out of the frame.
As soon as we got on the trail I realized that this was not going to be fun. There was trash everywhere. Trash littered the sides of the trail. Poop covered with toilet paper. Wrappers. Bottles. Tissue paper. Grocery bags. Candy wrappers. It was pathetic. Especially when we saw a nice bathroom facility nearby and also empty garbage cans throughout the parks –– seemingly unused. The trail stank and it just didn’t quit — even as we got farther away from the crowded campground. We walked past many other campsites, not necessarily campgrounds, but places that people were free-camping on the right-hand side of the trail. Isaac noticed that they didn’t have bathroom facilities out this way. It wasn’t that far of a walk to the bathrooms though. Limited accessibility may have been contributing to the problem.
We decided to stop walking, because it was getting more and more depressing. I wanted to go down to the sea to see if it was any better there. But as we ditched off the main trail to take a small trail… again was filthy. Not only was there trash on the trail and trash in the campgrounds, but there was trash in the rocks next to the sea and trash literally floating in the sea. It stunk. It was very hot out, but we were not going to swim in that!
As you can tell I had an issue with this trash thing. It was hard to get past.
Though there was a haze over the lake we could still see across to the other side. I didn’t expect that. As we came up from the beach we did see a hyrax (an animal that looks like a cross between fox and a rat). But we wanted to get back in the car as everyone is not very friendly here and everything feels very dirty.
After paying for parking and asking the attendant what was up with the trash (who just shooed us on) we ended up traveling a little further on to the Jordan River. We were hoping to find a place that was not dirty so that we could get into the water.
Where the highway crossed over the Jordan River there was a place where a ton of cars were parked. Ok, not parked, but jammed together so that no one could out. We parked off the side of the road.
A man had set up shop right there to sell his folded matzah. He rolled the dough out in and then he tossed it on his special rounded oven. He then spread it with Lebana cheese, za’atar herb and olive oil. He folded it and put it back on the oven for a second.
I bought one. We ate it as we walked down a trail to the Jordan River.
When we got down the trail it opened up into a “picnic” area next to the river. I was stopped in my tracks as I came down into the picnic area. I stopped. I looked back at my family. “What is it?” they asked as they tried to catch up to me. When they got closer they saw what I saw. Heaps of trash all over the place. Especially to our left. Piles almost as tall as Hadassah.
We almost left.
But then I decided I wanted to see the Jordan River. This might be the only time we would be this close, so I kept going…walking over condoms, candy wrappers, napkins, trash, trash and more trash. We got down to the river and discovered that it was muddy. Just as expected. I didn’t expect it to be clear water like in North Idaho. There was a boy sitting on the ground to the left of me. I walked into the river. It was cool. It actually felt good even though it was murky. A bunch of kids were swimming and playing in it on the other side. They looked like they were having fun. I wish I could have gotten over my fear. The water was surrounded by vegetation. I could see a little gravel beach up the river that I wanted to go to, but I wasn’t sure how to get there with all the trees and bushes hanging out over the water. I wasn’t about to walk up the river without being able to see what I was walking in. The bottom of the river was muddy, but it was moving in front of us. That was good. We could see and hear a little falls under the bridge. That was unexpected.
An older man was in the water coming towards me carrying a rather large fishing pole. He was friendly and so we “talked” for a long time. He wrote his name in the sand for me. We laughed. Even though he could not speak English he understood what I was saying. We talked about the trash. He said it was the Muslims who litter. Isaac is not convinced. The dad tried to convince me to go swimming. I don’t think so. But I did step out a little further and it did feel good. By the end four teenage boys had gathered around us. A big (chubby) boy wanted a picture with Maggie. I think that is why they had gathered near us. He had some kind of instant crush.
The father invited us to stay to eat with them. They were here to relax during the Feast, but I asked, “Where are all the women?” I think I understood him say that they were back in Haffia. Hmmm. He offered us vodka. I didn’t think so. Isaac was motioning that we had to get going. We stayed long enough to be polite and drink some non-spiked, cold lemonade with them. We toasted to the Feast and to l’hime!! Before we left the chubby boy asked to take a picture with Maggie. He wanted to follow her on Facebook. I said no. Maggie blushed. It was hilarious!
We left the Jordon River. We never saw it again on this visit to Israel. I sure hope there are nicer places to get in it. I’d like to find those someday. On our way to the car we got a chocolate folded matzah from the man on the side of the street. I’m glad we did. That was all the food we had until pretty late that night. We thought food was going to be everywhere, but the first half of the trip we were starving. It just wasn’t as easy to get food as we thought it was going to be.
We headed to Tiberius to pick up Derek. Continuing our way along the coastline we stopped at different beaches trying to find one we liked. We did find a better campground with a nicer beach. We stopped there. It think it was called Huqoq or Kare Deshe. There was some trash, but not as much as it was to the North. Lots of people camping for Sukkot, but it seemed like a cleaner crowd. Plus, there were lots of palm trees in this campground. At the edge of the water the sand was made up of little tiny shells. There was areas of pure white small rock, too.
Here the girls and I actually got in the water. The water at the edge was actually very warm. But while we walked out further the there were pockets of cold that would hit our legs. We decided to stop wading out once we got to waste level because I just didn’t like the fact that it was muddy and you couldn’t see your legs. Hadassah, being the brave fish that she is, decided to do a surface dive into the murky water. I yelled at her to come up. I couldn’t see her. She finally came up yards away from me, but didn’t stop to take a breath before she surface dove again into the unknown. That made me mad because it scared me. I didn’t know what was under the water and I couldn’t see her! So as soon as she came back up I told her we were going back. Of course, she was frustrated with that.
We left the park the same way we came in. Through a broken part of the fence, behind the restrooms which was behind a big stinky trash dumpster. Of course, had we drove in the right way and paid we would have avoided the places you weren’t supposed to see or smell.
On down the highway we found another nice beach (ok, nice is relative when you’re talking North Idaho beach nice) near a hotel where wooden boats launched out from. Huge tour buses unloaded while Maggie and I walked the pier. We watched them load and head out to sea. While we explored Isaac and Hadassah stayed in the car. Isaac had a headache. He found the snack bar at the hotel swimming pool and bought a coke to help his headache.
Right before we entered Tiberius there was a city called Magdal. From the freeway we saw a restaurant named “Magdalene.” Supposedly, this restaurant is amazing and there’s an archaeology dig there. They believe Mary Magdalene lived there long ago. Next time we visit we will go there. Maggie is named after Mary Magdalene!
When we got to Tiberius there were signs to the beaches. We thought we would explore those. Hoping to find a nice beach, but they were actually very awful! The beach was rocky and there were many groups of young men jet skiing etc. It felt very unsafe. We parked too far away. Walking made us all a bit nervous. I got one picture of the girls underneath palm trees that overlooked one of the “beaches,” but to the right of them are huge piles of garbage and in front of them down at the water’s edge too.
We left the “beaches” and went to the pier to find parking and pick up Derek. Because it was Shabbat parking was free. At least parking where the curbs are painted blue and white. Curbs painted red and white are not to park in. I wish Idaho respected Yah’s calendar like this!
Derek’s friends dropped him off at our car. We paid their gas and were thankful that they brought him up. It was the first time we had met Derek. I have just talked to him online arranging our time together during Sukkot. We all walked down to the Tiberius Pier. It was beautiful except that most of the stores were closed due to Shabbat.
There was a gelato stand open. We had gelato to celebrate the Feast! That was fun. It was warm out, the sea was blue and the pier was clean. I looked at Maggie’s feet. She was wearing her new Chacos. They were swollen pretty bad. It rots that only a week ago she was bucked off a horse kicked really hard in her leg. I knew we would be walking a bunch in Israel and I was worried that her leg and ankle wouldn’t be up for it. She didn’t complain too much about it, but as soon as we got back to the Kibbutz and she took her shoes off the swelling went down.
It was late when we got back to the cabin. I knew everyone was hungry. I made a pasta dish with what I had while Isaac and Derek hung the white lights I had brought to hang and the girls set the table. We ate our meal under our simple “sukkah” out on the porch. But when we sat down Isaac looked at the meal and said, “Where’s the food? Is this it?” That hurt my feelings. I know he was hungry, but I was doing the best I could do. I wasn’t sure what to do with that, so I stayed quiet about it until later.
Derek bunked out on the porch for the night. He would spend Sunday with us. We had an ushpizim (a guest) for our sukkah! Yes. This was a day of mixed feelings. Sad about the trash everywhere, not sure how to feel about that … happy to finally meet up with Derek and have an ushpizim in our sukkah. :-).