Thursday, August 27, 2009

Time Travel - Israel Style

We had a tour to get to at 3 pm between the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. Because we already checked out at 11 and then hung at the pool until 1:30, I had a half hour to get the kids and myself showered and changed in a poolside changing area before the taxi was coming. That was fun!

My brother (who opted to rent a car on the way up to Yam Hamelech) was still hanging at the hotel, so I dumped all my wet stuff with him and at 2 pm, we were off.

On the way to our next stop, we had one of those great taxi drivers who doubled as a tour guide.

We learned about how the unfortunate water shortage in Israel causes the Dead Sea to recede a meter every year. He explained how much closer the water used to be to the highway and now we can see so much land separating the highway from the Sea. He pointed out striations that lead up to the water and explained that the striations were like the rings on a tree stump. Each striation was left behind by salt sediment and was a meter apart from the next, signifying a years lapse in time due to water receding.

He pointed out the first ever Dead
Sea Spa, built in 1975 and it was eerie actually. Because the building used to be right up to the water, and now people were taking a shuttle from the building to the Sea, because the water had receded so much.

He also pointed out the fact that when the water recedes, the salt sediment is left behind and sits in one spot for so long, it corrodes that spot and then a sink hole forms. In fact, we noticed the warning signs for the sink holes.

He then told us that just a few weeks pri
or to our visit, a man and his girlfriend were walking a dog in the area and a sink hole opened up, causing the man to drop 20 meters, where he unfortunately lost his life.

The taxi driver also pointed out all the farms in the area, because the soil by the dead sea was actually so mineral rich, it was great for farming melons and other fruits and veggies.

It was actually all fascinating. At least for me it was,

not so much for them...

We reached "Genesis Land" just before 3
pm, where another American family was waiting to take the same English tour as us.

What is "Genesis Land", you ask?

It is an experience of "Biblical" proportions.

You are met by Biblical characters who take you through the era of history that pertains to them, by utilizing hands on activities as well as visually via props and a set-up similar to what may have been during that era.

We were met by Eliezer (Abraham's servant) w
ho had us don this era appropriate frocks and then guided us via a camel ride to Abraham's tent. Then Abraham picked up from there, sharing some of his history in first person of course. And because Abraham was known for his generous hospitality, he offered us dried fruit, as well as tea and coffee.

My kids inhaled all the dried apricots in under 2 minutes, but left the dates for Hun. No one really wanted the "golden" raisins. (Apparently we are "raisin racists" we only prefer black raisins.)

(In Abraham's tent, having tea, coffee and dried fruit .... oh, and some futuristic processed food)

The tea and coffee, were really good (even on a day that was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit). It was extremely sweet. So we asked Abraham,

"Abraham, do you add sugar to the tea and coffee?"

And Abraham responded,
(in his heavy Australian accent - who knew Abraham was Australian...)

"When those from the future come visit me in the past, we would offer sugarless coffee and tea, but all those from the future would ask, do you have sugar. So, we from the past, thought - if they keep asking for sugar, then SO IT SHALL BE DONE. And lo and behold - the tea and coffee come SUGARFIED."

He said something like that.

Australian I mean, Abraham.

Then, after all the tea and coffee, we were happy to see that those from the past deemed it important to also have for those from the future, actual toilets with appropriate plumbing.

After potty breaks, it was time to live like the forefathers did.

We made our own pita bread on a fire...

(NO - This is not some weird Biblical call out to G-d. This is what my kids look like after I say, "Show me your pita dough.")

(I am pretty sure I heard Australian I mean, Abraham say,

"Throw yu pey ta on tha bah bee.")

(It's hard to write in Australian)

We were also taught how to write in Ancient Hebrew Text. Hun liked this activity for some reason.

...complete with special quill pen and ink, which is probably why they REALLY give you the ancient looking frock to wear .... so you don't sue them for ink stains.

And what's that? Where is Bam, you ask again?

Just chilling in his frock under Abraham's tent. Isn't that what every infant does?

Apparently, there are some other workshops they offer, like making butter and herding sheep. The sheep were already herded that day, how many times a day can that workshop be done?

So our time with Abraham was done and Eliezer was ready to lead us back to the cashier exit, via camel. Since Hun was only able to take two kids on the way up to Abe's tent, it was now time for me to take So on the way back. I am happy my camel cooperated, since he was walking the edge of a cliff. We were also following very close behind a camel that lost its tail in a camel fight. The owners felt his shame and loss of dignity and gave him a make-shift tail, as a sheet draped over his back side. I had the good fortune of seeing just WAY too much every time that sheet shifted.

And of course, when we returned to the cashier , exit , future - we had our usual "end of outing" ice cream and ices.

"Genesis Land" was actually really fun. I would suggest it to anyone taking a trip to Israel.

We had a great time!

People have asked me if this is one of those "touristy" pictures, where they superimpose you onto a background. Nope! That is a real background, and we posed for my own camera. It is one of the most beautiful views ever. And funny - pretty much every one who goes to "Genesis Land" has a picture in or close to this exact spot. And believe you, me - if we backed up just a few feet, we would all have fallen to our deaths. I don't remember exactly, but one direction of this view is actually looking out to the "Valley of Jordan" because the Country, Jordan is right across the way.

After we ended our tour, we went to the "Malcha Mall" where we met Hun's cousins and their daughter for dinner at Pizza Hut. Eating at Pizza Hut is a treat for us kosher keeping Jews, but I will explain that in a later post.

Eating Pizza with the cousins.

Some of the food actually went INTO his mouth.

So Thursday is done, which means one more weekend in Israel. It was a good one.

5 have shown Orah a little love:

elisha said...

yikes, sinkholes!! i have been scared of them ever since i saw the princess bride and westley fell through some kind of hole. the rest of the trip looked like lots of fun!

Carey-Life in the Carpool Lane said...

Sounds like such a cool day between the Dead Sea info and Genesis Land. I love days when you are learning but it doesn't really feel like it.
And great pictures!

Carey-Life in the Carpool Lane said...

Oh, and I love the traditional outfits with baseball hats and crocs! said...

Wow, I felt like I went to Genesis land with you (oh, and i almost stepped on a squishy little baby someone left laying around :) in Australian Abraham's tent!

I've always wanted to ride on a camel too. I almost feel jealous, although I will not, I don't thing Abraham would approve.

Thanks for sharing.

Oh, and in my story, the lady had her baby 2 months before, but probably swallowed the lap a day or 2 before. Can we all say "MORON"

Anonymous said...

I think I heard of that guy that fell into a sinkhole and died, pretty scary Sh**.
I'm also a raisin racist, dont like the yellow ones, bichlal!
Genesis Land sounds like fun. Too bad they couldnt Cocodile Dundee to be the tour guide. But, I guess his skills would be useless in the desert, no crocs.

- Miss S.