Dangerously Daydreaming

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence

Adventures in Northern Israel

On the last day of my trip to Israel, our friends took us to see Mount Hermon, the Golan Heights, and the Jordan River. The long drive took us up into the northeasternmost part of Israel, right along the borders of Lebannon and Syria. Barbed wire fences posted with warnings served as the markers for these closed borders that are closely watched.148229_10151259213327221_492898049_n

Up, up, up our road wound through the mountains, past flocks of sheep and herds of cattle feeding on the slopes. We rounded a bend and glimpsed a fortress towering high above us. As the switchbacks took us higher we gained a better view of Nimrod’s Fortress, built by the nephew of Saladin during the Sixth Crusades. It was in the perfect place to stand guard over the Golan Heights and the sprawling valley below.

But our road wound ever upward taking us through a Druze village called Majdal Al-Shams. We learned that the Druze are a fascinating people group that have managed to maintain separatism from other ethnicities. They follow a very specific sect of Islam and only marry within their culture. Even their clothing and customs differ from those they live among – the men in traditional garb could have rivaled M.C.Hammer with his parachute pants! They are the only Arabic people group who serve in the Israeli Armed Forces. We stopped for lunch in the village and were treated to some delectable Lebanese cuisine.

Our road continued a little past the Druze village and ended at a ski lodge. At first I couldn’t imagine anyone skiing in the Middle East of all places. But as soon as we got out of the van, it all made sense. The summer dress and leggings I wore had been comfortable at 80 degrees down in the valley but were woefully inadequate at 5400 feet above sea level. Winds swept down from the mountains above us but the first snows of the year had not yet fallen so the place looked barren.


Back down the mountain road we went, back into warmth and sunshine, back into the green grasses of the valley. We agreed to stop and see the headwaters of the Jordan River. A dusty trail took us down into a ravine that the Jordan had dug out over the long centuries. The hot sun beat down and was only kept at by when we reached the shelter of a leafy covering in the ravine. We could hear the river splashing and crashing below us and anticipation built. I had seen the Jordan River once before, in the south during my first trip to Israel. It was brown with mud, shallow, and so narrow. I could hardly reconcile the two bodies of water that I saw.577902_10151259213332221_1717220157_n

Seeing that river surrounded by such greenery after wandering through what had seemed a desert wilderness was so refreshing. The Jordan came crashing over rapids, down shallow falls, and gave life to everything it touched. We followed the river upstream, marveling at this beautiful place – truly in oasis within an arid climate. But nothing could have prepared me for the sight of the shower of water that cascaded with reckless abandon into a pool. We could have stepped into a tropical paradise, it was so stunning. I couldn’t help but linger by the pool and soak in the moment. And then it was back up the dusty trail to the top of the ravine, through the fields in the sun, and back on the road to Haifa.532430_10151259213357221_1171414724_n577760_10151259213382221_1990751317_n


12 comments on “Adventures in Northern Israel

  1. Kitt Crescendo
    February 13, 2013

    Beautiful! I’ve always wanted to go there, but the unrest has kept me hesitant. What gorgeous country. I love travelling vicariously through you.

    • Audrey
      February 13, 2013

      Oh yes, I totally understand your hesitancy – they were dropping rockets while I was there in November (wasn’t involved directly, thank goodness) and the boyfriend back home got a little nervous for me. It’s an amazing place but the conflict definitely makes it hard to get around. No one likes almost getting frisked at the airport… But I’ll keep on sharing stories and pics. MUCH safer that way. 🙂 Thank you!!

  2. Denise Hisey
    February 13, 2013

    The many discrepanices (freedom/barbed wire, clean river/muddy river, lush green/brown etc) is really fascinating to me.
    Thanks for so many wonderful pictures!

    • Audrey
      February 13, 2013

      There really is an unusual dichotomy there. To have wealth and poverty combine in the cities, East and West in the culture, life and death all around, and verdance and desert as a backdrop. I think that’s why the waterfall made such an impact for me at the time. It so contrasted to the world outside of that ravine. Thank you, I’m gla dyou’re enjoying them!

  3. captainariel
    February 13, 2013

    Beautiful. I always love reading about your adventures and dream of having more of my own :D. But honestly, you’re an incredible writer, so you could write about even the most boring activity in the world, and I’d still read it and think it sounds Epic! lol 🙂 Love You

    • Audrey
      February 13, 2013

      Hey, you’ve got a ton more adventures to live, yourself! Can’t wait to hear how the SOW plays out. 🙂 Or whatever else may come up for you, so many options. Thank you! You’re a pretty awesome writer too. Are you still working on some poetry in your spare time? Sending you hugs, Sweets!

      • captainariel
        February 28, 2013

        Aww 😀 thanks, Audrey! uhm…sort of haha I started writing a song and did write a rap lol. What I really need to do though is start drawing again haha. And I’ve been meaning to write you a letter and send you your present from Cambodia 🙂 haha. And yeah, I’m thinking maybe I should call up one of the Pastors for that SOW and talk details :D. I’ll definitely let you know how things pan out. I Love You, woman ❤ haha and I miss you..lots 🙂

  4. ethelthedean
    February 13, 2013

    Such stunning vistas! You are such a fabulous travel writer because I always feel as though I am right there with you. That is also a beautiful snap of you in front of the waterfall (I like you travel companion in the background too!)

    Thank you for sharing this day with us! x

    • Audrey
      February 22, 2013

      I bet you would have loved tromping through to see the waterfall! And you’d definitely appreciate all the delicious eats over there; falafel, hummus, tons of veggies. If I hadn’t eaten so much of it, I might have lost weight! 😉 Thank you, thank you – you always encourage me to keep writing the travel stories down and it’s been so good to remember them. That lady in the shot wasn’t even part of our group, but as I look back over the photos, I wish she was. She’d have been a hoot, I bet!

  5. hittingthesweetspot
    February 15, 2013

    Hello! Susie sent me. Great post! 🙂

    • Audrey
      February 22, 2013

      Thank you for stopping by!! I’ll have to pop over for a visit to your space! 🙂

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