|Panoramic shot of the Sea of Galilee as the sun set on Sunday. Click on it to enlarge!|
Today, I must say, a wonderful day with my family . . . a real vacation, if you will. The past two days have been one of those rare periods when I have really been away from "work," the other two being when I brought Mother and Lindsay up north and the when we took Paul and Denise around the country. After our fast and furious day yesterday, Elaine and the children slept in. I got up early and ran through the hills north of Teverya (Tiberias), ran along the Sea of Galilee towards Madgala for a stretch, and then came back through orange groves.
|I got up and looked ou the kitchen window and saw some kittens playing in the morning sun. In the corner of the patio I saw what I thought was a big mama cat. "Wow, that is a big cat," I said to myself. Then I looked more closely. Holy Land Hyrax!|
Horns of Hattin and Nabi Shu'eib
For a long time I have wanted to get a close up look at the Horns of Hattin, the (in)famous site of the destruction of the Crusader army by Salah ad-Din in A.D. 1187. Looking on a map, it looked like the closest place I could get to which was near it was the settlement Kfar Hatin (I have since found that approaching from another direction I could have gotten right to Karnei Hitin). Still, we had some idea of the terrain where the Crusader knights were wiped out.
But I also noticed on the map that the small access road to Kfar Hitin continued on to a place called Nabi Sh'eib, which is Arabic for "the prophet Jethro." Honored in the Qur`an, the father-in-law of Moses is even more important in the Druze tradition, and they have made his tomb their primary shrine. The Druze (outside of the Golan, at least) are well-integrated into the Israeli state, and the state in turn has given them full control of the site. I was surprised at how modern, landscaped, and manicured the long access drive was, a clear sign of a wealthy, important community. At the top single Druze guard---identifiable as a member of the highest initiated class by his white mustache, baggy pants, and white headdress---determined who could enter and who could not.
We did not pass muster today, but I got some pictures from the gate!
|Tiberias (A), Nabi Shu'eib (B), and Hamat Gader (D)|
It has long been a strategic place. A Hellenistic city Gadara, had been a strong point of Greek culture as a member of the Decapolis in New Testament times. Later the Romans had stationed a legion as a garrison in Gadara. The site of Gadara lies just over the border in Jordan, but nearby there were some hot springs on this side of the Yarmouk that became a famous resort. The Romans built one of their famous bath complexes here, and it continued into the Muslim period.
|I was trying to get a close-up of the green stretch of river in the gorge below as well as a bridge ruined in the 1948 War, but the camera zoomed in on barbed wire below|
|At the old DMZ fence near the Jordanian border (the Yarmouk River)|
|This picture was Elaine'ss idea and speaks for itself|
This twin heritage is reflected in the name: Hamat Gader, from the Arabic Hammam for "Bath" and Gader, from the Greek for Gadara. Today Hamat Gader is a "super park" resort. On one side of the ruins is a menagerie with crocodiles, peacocks, baboons, emus, and other animals. On the other side is a pool, slide, and mineral bath. Something for everyone in our family today!
|Rachel being an emu|
|We love Thai food and have not had it for a year . . .|
|. . . but this restaurant was closed!|
|Ancient bath . . .|
|. . . modern bath|
|1948-era watch towers loom over the park|
End of the Day in Tiberias