The beautiful promised land
In the previous post I described my lasting feelings of Israel as a country. I would not do her justice if I did not express how incredibly beautiful the Holy Land is. So this post is dedicated to just that — the mysterious attractiveness of the ancient realm of Israel.
People have been fighting over this land for millenia. But do not expect to find a hidden garden of Eden full of lush forests and fertile soil. Indeed the climate is very dry and ground cover is mostly rocky desert. But this climate and geology is also why human history has been so well preserved for so long.
In Masada you can climb up the siege ramp the romans built almost 2000 years ago and walk over to where the legionaries took a dump and literally still smell the shit. (Now that I had time to think about it, it is probably not theirs, but nonetheless.) The wood they piled to cook their meals with, you can still dig them up and make a bonfire. Mind Boggling realism.
The only time I would buy the Bible is if they have a pop-up-book version of it. I would buy it and then find a way to shrink myself down so I can walk around in it. Orrr— I can just go to Jerusalem. In the actual city you also get to meet all the colourful characters. Kid you not, there was actually a man dressed up as Jesus walking around guiding people to where he was buried. Creepy but cool. A theme park for the religious as my friend called it. If there is a Mecca of paintball arenas this would be it. With its winding streets and hidden doorways, epic long weekend tournaments could be fought. The winner can claim king of the hill (or Temple Mount). On second thought, they did organize something called the 6 days war.
Tel Aviv has the best children’s playgrounds! Sheltered, well-lit and probably designed by Robin Williams in his happy days, young families can easily spend a week doing playground-hopping and save a trip to Disneyland. Some of the jungle gyms are outright CRAZY! I vapourized my elbows and almost parted ways with my front teeth. Liability laws are different here I guess. Then again, our Air BnB did come with a bomb shelter and gas mask. If that is not Bang for your bucks I don’t know what is.
Zichron is known as the Provence of Israel. It is nice, cozy and quaint like France. Complete with its own network of vineyards, overpriced gift shops and bakeries that open at 7:00AM and sell out by 7:25AM. If I didn’t see the occasional young couple carrying M16s on their morning stroll I could imagine I am in Southern Europe.
Driving to the dead sea is like going to a picnic on another planet just before you have to save Matt Damon’s ass again . Instead of mileage markers they have altitude markers. It goes something like this “-150 meters”, “-200 meters”, “-300 meters” That’s when your ears pop, inwardly. Swimming in the dead sea does not bring you closer to reality. You feel like a flamingo float in some alien overlord’s backyard pool. Not much you can do except to drift, very highly, in to oblivion. You will taste the water and you will regret it. And that’s that.
Israel is like a mature, curvy woman hidden behind mysterious veils. She has a fiery temper and also soft caresses, she can throw you into the desolate corners of civilization, until you realize this is also the birthplace of love and hate. With her, one feels alive. I can see why people are willing to put their lives on the line in order to be part of this place. All lands should be Holy and the entire Earth is promised to us and our children. There is so much we can learn, discover and teach one another. Thank you Israel for welcoming us to your inexhaustible bosom of wisdom, stories and serene beauty, I just wish the airport rental car return was a bit easier to find.
Until next time, Shalom!
See Also “Israel, A Place for your Heart“
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