Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Israel, Day #8

We met Arthur for breakfast and then we began our nature day (this is Arthur's specialty, aside from the desert).  We went snorkeling at Coral Beach.  It was not the most spectacular snorkeling I have ever seen, but it was pretty enough.  Morning spent in the Red Sea looking at fish.  Our last stop in Elat was at a statue commemorating Elat being included in Israel.  That came out wrong.  The story is that a brigade from the Israeli Army ran down to Elat during the Independence War, to stick a flag in the sand and call dibs.  They got there and realized they forgot the flag.  So they took a sheet and drew the Magen David and stripes and it worked.  The original flag/sheet is in a museum somewhere.  A few years ago an artist made a statue to remember them by.  We saw that. 
From there we went to Hai Bar, a nature preserve.  They are trying to revive the animal population from the time of the Torah.  We saw three different types of gazelle like animals, all with different shaped horns, lots of ostriches, wild donkeys and wild horses.  Those animals live in the "wild," they are not caged in.  They live in one large multi-acre enclosure.  We also toured the smaller cages.  My favorite, and Arthur's also, was the leopard.  There was a long story about the leopard that Arthur caught (in his bedroom) and so he would visit it while it lived at the nature preserve.  His leopard has since passed away.  While visiting his leopard, he became friendly with the female leopard living in the enclosure.  So while we were there today, she talked and chatted with him.  It was magical. 
Then we were in the car and heading north.  We passed a hippie commune and stopped for lunch.  This is when we heard the leopard story.  We were so enamored with the story that an hour passed and we still hadn't eaten.  When we thought we were ordering, they thought we were telling them what we had ate, so they never brought us food.  Oh well.  It all worked out in the end.  We had fresh goat cheese, hummus, and salad for lunch.  It was delicious.  Food coma settled and we passed out for the next hour in the car. 
Last stop of the day was the Ramon crater.  It is a crater only in appearance.  Otherwise it is not actually a crater.  It was a huge mountain range formed by the wind.  The wind is so strong there that it eroded the mountain and made a valley or canyon in the middle.  It was spectacular.  There were so many different colors in the rock that it was truly breath taking.  The best part of the crater was that Arthur drove through the whole thing.  He popped his car into 4-wheel drive and off we went.  He drove up and down and over and that way and this way over the rocks.  It was the craziest driving experience.  It was a little nauseating.  But it was a very good time. 
Onwards, towards the goat farm we are staying in tonight.  We called ahead, and they were not serving dinner, so we stopped at the grocery store and bought pita, hummus, salami, cucumbers, and beer.  Then on to the goat farm.  Yes we are staying on a goat farm.  I don't think typing it more helps with anything.  This goat farm has guesthouses.  We are staying in the guesthouses, which are more like cabins in the middle of nowhere looking out onto the mountains.  Spectacular views.  As soon as we got out of the car, Matt made best friends with two golden labs.  They have been following us around for the last 4 hours.  In fact, they are sleeping on the porch of our cabin.  They walked me back to our cabin after hanging out at my parents' cabin.  It is lovely and heartbreaking.  I miss our dogs.  Although, they wouldn't protect us as well, from what I don't know.  Matt also played with the young goats.  They sucked on his fingers and he thought it was great.  I thought their goat cheese was amazing.  But now its bedtime. 

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