The days are flying by – it seems that there is no time to write. We know that friends and family are watching the blog – waiting to see what is happening. So… tonight we will try and give you a brief overview of what we have been doing. We must say that the weather (we don’t want to say this too loud so read this in a whisper) has greatly improved – we now have blue skies, sun and warmer temperatures. We had a few days of real winter weather – cold, rain, wind – but the spirit of the group never dampened and every day we set out for our destinations! We dressed in many layers – wore jackets, sweaters, turtlenecks, hats, gloves and raincoats – umbrellas worked sometimes. So…here goes!
From there we visited Haifa – viewing city and port from various lookouts – including a view from the Bahai Gardens – magnificent! On to Nahariya and our home for the next week.
After the sobering visit we traveled to upper Nazareth to the Elite Chocolate Factory. Sorry to say that we don’t have pictures of this visit – as we were not allowed to photograph the tour – guess they were afraid we would show the pictures to Hershey Chocolate! If we had had a camera – you would have seen the 47 of us – dressed in red jackets and hats – we had to be sanitary! We loved the smell of the chocolate – with mouths watering we watched the conveyor belts filled with chocolate bars, cookies and cakes! We all wanted to sample some of the “rejects” but we had to wait until the end of the tour to sample – all that we could eat – and we can eat!! They gave us bags of candy and we were very happy campers!
The area was originally wetlands and swamp which was a devastating source of the malaria mosquito. It was drained in the 1950s, and a number of years later it was realized that this not ecologically sound. JNF once again undertook the project of re-flooding, and today it provides farmland and a major migration route for birds traveling back and forth between Europe and Africa.
We were treated to an amazing ride on a vehicle designed almost, one might say, in theater style to accommodate over 50 people. It was pulled by a tractor which took us through an area with approximately 24,000 cranes. Another tractor pulled a spreader that sprayed corn to feed them so that they wouldn’t attack the fields of crops in the valley. It was an amazing sight to watch the feeding frenzy! Watch and enjoy what we saw and heard!
After dinner we were treated to one of our regular speakers, Hadassah Bat Haim, a long time resident of Nahariya, who regaled us with her personal stories of her early days in Israel, told with her usual wry English wit.
Hiking shoes, hats and water bottles (not empty!) we headed out for our picnic and northern hike. On our way, we stopped in the charming village of Rosh Pina. It was a glorious day, and the setting was truly representative of how things were built in the 1880s, with a fine example of a synagogue that is still in use today. The scenery really the icing on the cake – the flowering almond trees and spring flowers were beginning to show themselves to us. We had a very knowledgeable local guide who described the hardships experienced by the early settlers, and related a lot of folklore. We must admire their tenacity and determination to create a community of thriving farmers. The village is now comprised of many artists, quaint shops and cafes, including a marvelous chocolatier … it goes without saying, that some of the group managed to spend a few shekels too!
Back on the bus, and to our luncheon destination – the Banias! So, after revitalizing our bodies for the 2 hour hike, most of the group set off on the trail, through woods, waterfalls and ancient ruins. It was a perfect day for a hike, and so many tourists thought so too … people from far and wide came to view the Temple of Pan and enjoy the calm spring waters and general serenity of the area.
Tomorrow we leave for the Dead Sea – stayed tuned for our next adventure.