Day12:Tel Hazor, Tel Dan, Tel Hai, Metulla

Trip Start May 14, 2008
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Trip End Jun 17, 2008


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Flag of Israel  , Galilee,
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Having opened ourselves to the mysticism within we are ready for another day of personal growth.  Our planned itinerary includes Tel Hazor, Tel Dan and Tel Hai.  We drive to Tel Hazor and arrive without incident.  After a while it gets hard to tell one Tel from another Tel.  They usually have the archeological digs of ancient civilizations.  We seem to be attracted to the ones that have unusual water systems.  Tel Hazor had one similar to Megiddo, but not quite as dramatic.  Whereas Megiddo demonstrated the exceptional engineering skills of the long tunnel, Tel Hazor's entrance into the water well with man made steps was largely intact.  With these original stairs down the initial shaft clearly visible, it took only a small leap in our imaginations to visualize women carrying filled, heavy jugs of water up the steep stairs.  We are not sure how such heavy work got relegated to women.   It makes my Stairmaster work outs seem tame.

The only other tourists at the site are a group from a theological seminary located in Dallas, Texas.  They are kind enough to let us listen to their instructor for awhile.  The instructor reads sections from the Bible that refer to the city and brings the history to life.  You hear about kings, wars and Jesus while standing in the same place that they stood 2000 years ago.  We always ask permission to listen, or at least thank the guide after his presentation.  We have never experienced a group that was not warm and welcoming.  On occasion we have stayed in the same spot and listened to several guides with very different presentations.  There is the temptation to tell them that they had a different view of history from the last guy, but we keep our mouth's shut.

Our guidebook recommends stopping at a mall outside Kiryat Shmona for lunch.  This is going to be our first visit to an Israeli mall and our first Israeli food court.  Unlike American malls, Israeli malls have a single entrance with a security guard checking every backpack.  The food court is on the second floor.  We decide to skip the Burger King and try the falafel place.  Just after we arrive a couple of busloads of Birthright students arrive.  I'm still trying to forget the food so let's not dwell on that.  For those of you with children going on Birthright trips I'd like to pass on a quote from one of the young men: "We've been told to make Jewish babies".

Tel Dan is not your average Tel.  It has the archeological digs, but it has rivers and lush greenery.   Just after the visitor's center, at the start of the trail network, you hear the sound of fast moving water.  It's loud and we comment that we haven't heard the sound of water here in Israel.  The wind has been with us every day in the Galilee, so now we have both together. 
  
There are a few alternatives for walking the site.  They have short, intermediate and long paths.  Definitely take the long path if you have the time.  It takes at least two hours.  Once again we come across a Christian instructor leading a group.  This group is from Los Angeles.  The instructor invites us to follow along and we take advantage of a great opportunity.  The park brochures and guidebooks give a nice overview but these instructors are using the Bible as their guidebook.  There are also signs along the trail that give quotes from the Bible that match incidents that took place at this location.  I may be confusing locations but I think that Abraham came here to free his kidnapped nephew Lot.  This location also had a different name before it was conquered by the tribe of Dan after they found the Philistines too tough.

It is after 3:00 and we really want to get to Tel Hai in time to see the movie about Joseph Trumpledor and his defense of Tel Hai in 1920.  Our guidebooks all say "you can't miss it".  We have three guidebooks and they are all confusing to us.  There are three locations in a small area.  One is the cemetery.  One is on the campus of a college across the street from the cemetery.  And the third is a Kibbutz just up the hill from both the college and the cemetery.  We never figure out where the movie is shown, but we do eventually get to all three locations.
We start out thinking we should go to the place where all the buses are.  Sounds like a safe bet, right?  They all go to the cemetery where the roaring lion is located and the eight victims of the 1920 battles are buried.  But we go up to the Kibbutz.  We find signs to the museum and drive up.  It seems strange that there are no buses.  As it turns out, there are no people.  It looks as if the museum is no longer open.  We figure that it must have been moved to a beautiful new building on the college campus across the street from the cemetery.  So we drive over there.  The guard said we are in the right place but that we cannot park there. If you have ever tried to park on a college campus you can imagine our experience.    We end up in a remote lot at the bottom of the hill and climb up.  We find a large field and a building that is surrounded by a locked fence.  Since this appears to match one of our guidebooks that describes a farm implements museum we decide to ask a bus driver at the cemetery where the movie is.   He told us to go back to the Kibbutz.  We drive back to the Kibbutz.  This time we meet a nice young guy who lives on the Kibbutz and studies film production at the school.  He tells us we that should go back to the school and that he will help us find it since he is going there anyway.  He jumps in the back seat and off we go.  On the way we discuss a "must see" movie called West Bank Story.  Of course he knows all about it.  We find a different guard and our student friend gets directions in Hebrew.  We end up in exactly the same parking space we started in.

We work our way up the campus until we finally reach the beautiful new building we had seen from the road.  It turns out to be the new student union.  The guard probably did not understand English too well and we wanted to be in the right place so badly that we believed him.  We find a very nice woman, originally from Philadelphia who offers to help.  She is amazed that we had ended up where we are.  When we tell her we are lost, she responds, "No you're not.  You are home."  By now it is well past the 4:00 cutoff for the movie so the pressure is gone.
We head down the stairs back to the remote parking lot.  We stop at the locked fence that we found on our first visit and try to take a picture of the sign.  Suddenly there is a voice speaking to us in Hebrew.  We turn to see a young man (everyone seems young to us) on a motor scooter who switches to English and tells us that there is a recording we can listen to.  Then he just drives off.

After listening to the recording we return to the car and drive to the cemetery again.  If you are confused by this series of events don't feel alone.  By this point we just want to see something, anything!  We wander around the cemetery, read the historical signs, and observe the busloads of students.  We had started with a clear intention to see the "must see" movie and instead the drama was in the process of finding it.   No fewer than five people guided us along the way, and only a day after Sfat, you look for some inner meaning to this experience.  The Philadelphia woman had made a profound statement that made us pause and look at each other (and has subsequently been a subject of discussion).  The young man on the motor scooter may have been our mystical guide who mysteriously appeared and gave us a suggestion that provided details of Tel Hai that we would have gotten in the movie.  So maybe, just maybe, we need to trust that there will be guidance when needed.  And maybe, just maybe happiness is being OK with not being sure of your way, not getting hung up on "seeing the movie", and expecting the unexpected.

We are so close to the northern most town of Israel, Metulla, that we decide to swing by and take a look.  If you squint your eyes and don't read the Hebrew signs, you might think you're in a charming Swiss town or maybe a rural town in upstate New York.  As we drive up the mountain to the highest point, we see a sign for the border crossing into Lebanon.  Near the top of the mountain, the road ends and we get out of the car to look at the panorama before us.  In the distance, are two white United Nations vehicles that we track through the camera's telephoto lens, which does double duty as binoculars.  We started our day at Tel Hazor, in ancient times with people living and fighting for the land.  Our visit to Tel Hai and now Metulla are sites of present era fighting for the land.    A strong wind has been with us all day.  This wind has also been here through the ages, for millennium.  Something inside us is being touched.  The wind against our face and through our hair brings moments of present moment awareness and the thought:  Can we co-exist?  Can there be peace in this land?

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