I was up at 6:30 in the morning and so took some time to update my blog while everyone else slept. At 7:30, I dragged their sleepy butts out of bed and we were down to breakfast by 8:10 where we met up with Moshe. By 9:00 we had our bags loaded, had checked out of the hotel and were speeding down route 90 making a quick stop at Ahava to get Becky some creams we hope will help with her “swimmer’s” skin and Sammi a mud mask.
We sped on to Genesis Land arriving about five minutes late. Two other families (one from Australia and another from England with seven children) were there for our 10 o’clock appointment, one just arriving a moment before us (we saw them pull in) and a third family (from NY) arrived after us, so not too late by Israeli standards.
Desert by Abraham's Tent
Eliezer, Abraham’s servant “greets” us and tells us about Abraham’s travels to Canaan. Then we ride camels (half the group anyway, the other half walk behind them, dodging camel poop along the way), to Abraham’s tent.
Chris and Sammi on a camel
Eliezer calling Abraham
Abraham greets us and welcomes us as we sit on the floor on mats and learn about his life a bit and the importance of hospitality to him and by extension the Jewish people. Platters of dried fruit and water are served, then we make our own pita (flat) bread, cook them on an open fire and eat them with a sweet tea. Finally, after some discussion about healthcare in our respective countries (yes, I know very un-Abraham like), the other half of the group ride the camels back to our starting point (again with the others dodging camel poop along the way). The entire thing lasted probably less than two hours (we weren’t tracking); it was hokey but it was also cool.
Dried Fruit Platter
Flat Bread Cooking
Becky on a camel
From here, we head to Ein Fawwar, a natural spring, which due to recent rain, is not draining and sprouting every twenty minutes like normal. It’s still beautiful though and while there we talk to some workmen who are doing construction on the area. They are fixing up some existing buildings, to make a snack area and shop and facilities for day trippers to use while they soak in the springs. Unfortunately, this also means that there is some construction noise. One thing we do get to see are the remains of a Byzantine church discovered during the construction only during this past year.
Caves at Ein Fawwar
Stream at Ein Fawwar
Next, we head further into the desert and pull off the road at the base of a hill on which sits a giant cross. We climb the hill, where two Bedouins sit, hoping to sell passer byes like us those head wraps (sorry the name escapes me at the moment), we politely but firmly tell them, “No” as Moshe leads us further up the hill and to the incredible view of the St. George Monastery (now we see Rivendale from Lord of the Rings – did you not believe me that I’m a geek?). We admire the view for some time, taking various photos and then climb back into the car.
Monastery of St. George
Monastery of St. George
Heading down, out of the desert on our way to Jerusalem, Becky spies an ibex from the car and we stop to ogle and take more photos. We look around, for more (they’re like deer, travel in packs) but don’t see any and continue on our way.
We arrive in Jerusalem about 2:00 or so and before going to our hotel, drive to the top of Mount Scopus to see some incredible views of the city.
Dome of the Rock - Jerusalem
There's a wall there with names of all the people/organizations who contributed $1 million or more to endowments for Hebrew University. We recognized a few of the names there, Steven Spielberg and Frank Lautenberg among them.
Next, we drop the girls and our bags at our new hotel, the Prima Royal, and then Chris and I head out to Bethlehem. I think I’ll write about that though in another post.