This area of Israel lies on the migratory path of many birds from Europe to Africa, and Bella wanted to show me some of the birds who make the trek. We arrived around 9am and were nice and early, so we had a lovely walk for a while.
I was delighted to see that they were twinned with Oak Hammock Marsh in Manitoba. It really is a fascinating place and we had a really good walk and saw quite a lot. The Common Crane is one of the main visitors to Hula Lake, and the noise can be quite amazing apparently.
I did see more than these, but this was just a start.
A Coypu, I was literally only about two feet away
This Kingfisher was just quietly sunning himself
Bella posed for me!
We went back to the main area, and as you can see, there are lots of golf buggies, which you can hire, or you could hire a bike, or take the special viewing tractor. This was really interesting, as you all sat in rows facing one direction while the tractor towed you across the open fields so you got a slightly closer view. It was a bumpy ride, but fun and we did get a much closer view of many birds.
The day was quite hot, and these Cormorants were just having a break
The Pelicans were feeling it too
Bella and I have challenged each other to do a piece based on the Cormorants, this is my photo and my effort so far, the background is blue Dupioni silk and I have since finished this bird, he is freehand painted and I am just plucking up courage to do the second one! I have also started to paint the branch he is perched on.
It was a really wonderful morning, and the weather couldn't have been better and all too soon we had to leave and head back to Kfar Gil'adi as Uri was taking us out again this afternoon! I was looking forward to it, and we decided we would have lunch in the dining room. I was looking forward to this as I wasn't sure how it all worked, but here is my lunch which was really good. A spicy soup and then beef with rice and salad. There was also fresh fruit if you wanted it.
And guess who joined us for lunch! Yatzke on the left is Bella's husband, and then Uri and yours truly. Just behind me is Bella's friend Roni who has a clothing consignment store on the kibbutz, and also designs some pretty cool frames for glasses. I didn't buy frames, but did get a couple of designer skirts, so I was very happy. The dining room was quite busy with families and children all getting together.
After lunch, we took our dishes to the back and placed everything, including the tray, in the tray on the conveyor belt and off it went to be washed and put through the dishwasher. We were soon ready to start our afternoon and went back home to meet up with Uri.
This afternoon we were going to do the border just behind us with Lebanon, I felt a little easier about this, but really cannot believe how close it is. Bella wrote to me yesterday and sent a photo of the roofs of the kibbutz with the quarry just behind, and then the big houses I told you about the other day, that area is called Merom Golan.
Bella also wanted me to make it clear, that things are different on the kibbutz today and it is really no different to living in a town. After she had her first two children, the kibbutz life changed, and it was then that children then lived with their parents. I asked Uri about this as he had been born on the kibbutz and I asked if it was difficult to form a bond with your parents when you didn't live with them, how did he feel about that? He told me that it was no problem, he knew where his mother worked, and if he was naughty, which I can imagine Uri being most of the time, he would run to the kitchen which is where his mother worked, and plead innocence, and she would just shoo him back to school .
So off we went. As I said, today we were going to see Lebanon, but first Uri took us to the entrance of the kibbutz to see this monument.
After a short while, we headed up on the road which goes behind the kibbutz and from there we had the most amazing view, again Mount Hermon was in clear view, and we headed up to Misgav Ams which is another kibbutz right against the border.
This shows the quarry behind Kfar Gil'adi
Misgav Ams overlooking the Lebanon border
The road we are on is in Israel, and the one that looks as if it goes straight on is in Lebanon
We carried on and were busy chatting and laughing, when I'm sure I saw a sign saying military personnel only, but maybe I was mistaken, but on the other hand, we were on a single track road with some very odd dips in it, (maybe it was for tanks?), which went on for quite some time. I was beginning to think that if we met the Army coming in the opposite direction Uri would probably get them to back up. The road was very high and there was quite a drop on my side of the car. I found it quite funny at night, as you would see groups of lights in what looked like the sky, but then you realized that they were villages on the hillsides.
So the view above is what is ahead, and the one below shows where we have been.
And here we are driving in Israel, and the truck on the opposite side is in Lebanon, it feels a little weird.
Eventually we popped out into an area which was full of orchards, and it was here that Uri made us get out and pick Pink Lady apples, he probably knew the owner so it was ok, and they were the loveliest apples I have ever tasted, and this from someone who only ever ate Cox's Orange Pippins, a very British apple.
We then head back down to the town of Metula as we were going to look at the Good Fence. This had been many years ago, the border crossing between Lebanon and Israel. The road to it definitely did say "Military Personnel only", but off we went. (Uri wanted to know who was going to stop him.) This was once a very busy and bustling border crossing, with shops, cafe's etc, but is now a desolate place, we drove right up to the point where cars would have crossed.
We had a quick look around Metula, and then started to head home. Bella asked Uri to take us to some old army barracks which had been turned over to artists to paint, so off we went. We took a side road, and in the distance we could see army vehicles. Now, Uri is a curious soul, so we had to go and see what was going on. We drove past fields, each one had a sign on saying that there was the danger of unexploded mines, and Bella and I started to laugh as we couldn't believe what we were seeing, but as Uri said, we weren't getting out to walk across them.
We again came up to the border, and you can see how close we were, I do hope they don't come and arrest me. There were several vehicles parked, among them army jeeps, and there seemed to be some target practice going on for kibbutz security. For reasons I don't have to explain, I kept my camera hidden, but have to tell you that they did not turn a hair at our presence, I thought at least someone would come up and question what we were doing, but no, they ignored us. We watched for a little, these guys are crack shots which is I suppose what you want, and then we turned around and drove a short distance to an abandoned army post and looked at the art works that covered the outside, and also insides of the buildings. We walked around outside, Bella and I had no wish to go in, it was a bit spooky.
The art was interesting. The light was beginning to fade now, and it was time to head home as we were going out for dinner.