Weekend in the Golan, Pt Two (Pictures)

This is the part where I blither randomly before finishing the pictures from the Golan. For example, here is one of my current ‘To Do’ lists:


I went to church with a friend this morning, instead of going to the congregation in the evening. This church was composed mainly of foreigners, because it was run by an American evangelical ministry, and services were conducted in English. A couple from Sudan, who had fled the genocide, dedicated their newborn baby in the service. They had crossed Egypt to get to Israel, sometimes on foot, while being pursued – and while the mother was nine months pregnant. And apparently this is not an uncommon story, and a lot of refugees just don’t make it to Israel – they die along the way.

The main refugee concentration is in Eilat, and I’m probably going to go with a few friends some weekend to volunteer down there. Here’s Andi’s take on it.

On the way back to the university neighborhood, we … randomly picked up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and ate it. I don’t know what we were doing. But so good – and so hideously expensive.

My list of things to visit and see is rapidly growing. It’s shocking; I only have eight weekends left! I somehow want to pack in camping trips, visits to neighboring countries, museums, advent services … and all on a limited budget.

Okay, enough of that. On to the pictures!

Shot out the window of the bus, driving through the Golan

We visited a nature reserve, which included a lot of swamp. The main attration here is not the turtles. Nor the people.

You’ve got to admit that it’s really pretty, though.

Blackberries! I ate some (ripe ones), the day before, on our hike. People were worried that I was going to die, but evidently their fears were unfounded. I guess that’s what comes of having berries grow on your back fence …

Goa’uld holding tank, anyone? The catfish in the swamp were enormous. They don’t do this normally, but some tourist threw in some Bamba – kind of like Cap’n Crunch berries – and the catfish swarmed.

Here’s the main attraction. Yeah, migratory birds. The ones from Europe and Asia all bottleneck in Israel, on their way to Africa for the winter, and we caught the tail end of the flow. The cranes, in particular, are supposed to rise at exactly 9:30 every morning, ready to catch the thermals and head south. I took a lot more bird photos, but you can’t actually see the birds. Why? Because I’m seriously amateur, and don’t have a telescopic lens.

This was cool. We visited the Banias reserve/park, so called because it was named after the Greek demi-god Pan, but Arabs can’t say ‘p’. There’s a temple to him here. Legend also has it that Peter received the keys to heaven here. I really don’t think this Scripture is related to it at all, but it was here, and pretty sweet. The verses are from Matthew chapter 16, and are basically the foundation of Christianity (at least, the part about Jesus being the Christ, or Messiah).

Further along in the hike we saw an old flour mill. There was a lot more than this, but, hey, limited space.

One of my many pictures of the Banias River.

Birches! They’re pretty much awesome.

So… I really like taking pictures of water…

The waterfall at the end of the hike. The parking lot was nearby, but we took the scenic route.

A little more information about the river.

The last stop on the trip was the Golan Heights Winery, where they showed us a brief film, took us on a briefer tour, had a tasting session, and turned us loose in the gift shop. Then it was back to Tel Aviv, where my lovely homework (bleah) was waiting for me.

One thing I didn’t know before: Even though Syria claims the Golan Heights, there really weren’t any Syrians living there, except in one city. There weren’t any rural settlements or communities, so if you ask me, the prior claim argument is slightly shaky. Besides, what do they need it for? They’ve already got quite enough land.


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