Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The last four days my family and I have been on the go. I have had barely any time to really stop and process what I’ve seen. In addition to the traveling I was in the sun for way too long Saturday; if I have learned anything, it is to not mess with the sun in Israel. Sunday, our day in Jerusalem I was so sick. Diagnosis: either very mild heat stroke or dehydration. The good news is I have some great pictures from Masada; the bad news is I paid dearly for it. But from now on, especially while I am at my dig, I will be very careful with the sun. I don’t like repeating my mistakes.
Last year I meant to write a blog about the country of Israel. Sure, I did one about the history I learned in my class, but what about the landscape of the country? I think everyone who does not know thinks Israel is just a desert, but really the landscape is quite diverse.
In the south lies the dry desert part of Israel. This is the hot part of the country. While the desert may not seem be as useful in other parts of the country, I learned last year the Israeli’s have developed ways to grow crops in the desert. Sand is apparently the perfect kind of soil because with some fertilization it can grow about any crop; the sand acts as a blank canvas. My group visited a kibutz growing carrots out of the sand, and tomatoes in green houses. Along the Dead Sea there are large areas of palm trees my parents helped identify as date farms.
My image of tomatoes growing in the sand
The south has beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Last year we got up so early to hike Masada I saw a beautiful sunset breaking over the desert. My mother went to school in the south, and she was very adamant about pointing out the changes in color through the day. It is a beautiful region.
Some of the agriculture on our way south
The diverse south
Jerusalem is located in the central hill county. These may not be high mountains, however the region is more mountainous than flat. In this region there are several forests growing, and it is very green and lush. Also dotting the countryside are several agricultural kibutz’s.
I must diverge to define what a kibutz is; for those who do not know a kibutz is a kind of community where every individual works for eight hours a day, and instead of earning a wage instead is given a home and supplies necessary for basic living. These places can manufacture items, or grow agricultural. These food items are used to feed the Israeli population, and some are even exported to Europe.
Going north the landscape becomes greener. In the Golan Heights around Passover the area is green and blooming with flowers. Much of this greenery has dried out by this time of the year, but there are still flowers growing, and some green is visible. This area is thickly grown with grasses and flowers, so it is easy to imagine the landscape being green in the spring.
Imagine going from these hills to this picture below in under ten minutes!
Close to Haifa there are valleys that are very fertile and serve as agricultural centers.
Finally, at Tel Dan, one of the most northern points in Israel, the area was not only green, but also wet. This location is where the Jordan River starts; these spring waters flow south to form the Jordan River. After being in the south three days ago, it was amazing to see springs coming from the ground and flowing along the path. Similarly, the constant sound of rushing water was delightful to hear.
As I drove around, I tried to capture some of the constant changes I witnessed outside my window through pictures. One minute we would be climbing a hill, the next we would be descending into a valley. As I took images of the city of Jerusalem, I looked east and was able to see the desert lying so close to a high green area. These changes are made more drastic because of the small geography in which they are happening.
Now readers, if you are paying attention you will notice I mention many interesting places in my post here: Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Masada and Tel Dan to name a few. Be patient with me, because I plan to give each the time it deserves and research into the history of these locations. But for today, after returning from the north and seeing the scenery I have seen, this post seemed more appropriate before I continued with the history.
As I have been doing for this trip, enjoy the pictures I have taken. Be forgiving of these, because several were taken from the car, through the same window I view these lovely places from with my own eyes.