Friday, March 12, 2010

The Flat Ainsleigh Project: Israel Edition, part III

The third and final installation of the FAP in Israel (parts I and II from before). When Kate asked if she should send Flat Ainsleigh home or keep her an extra week because they were going to Masada, I audibly commanded my monitor, "STAY!" I have a special place in my heart for Masada. When I was in college, there was a huge exhibit at our museum on loan from the University of Jerusalem. It was fascinating, and also a huge honor that we got to house it for a little while, so a few of my writing/research classes had us focus on different parts of it. I think. Or maybe it was when I was writing for the paper and I had to do a story on it? The details are hazy. The point is, I remember reading a LOT about how it came into existence, what it was, how it was deserted, and the sad finale (summary: almost a thousand Jews were living there to avoid the Romans who eventually laid seige to the place and eventually the Jews decided death would be better than what the Romans had in store and so all but two women and five children - I think - died. What a hard decision to make. Also, a hard thing to explain to your nearly-8 year old. "They killed each other?! WHY?!" It's hard to explain cruelty and abuse, especially when I want to shield her from all pain.). So anyway, this particular part has special meaning to me. I hope some day I can walk those paths myself.
(and, again, hover over the pictures for the captions)

Our trip "out of town" was down to the Dead Sea. It's the lowest spot on Earth and is part of the border between the countries of Israel and Jordan. The Dead Sea is so salty nothing can live in it, and when you try to swim you automatically float! Although we saw the sea, we didn't swim. If you have any cuts or scratches on your body, the salt gets into them and stings! That's not fun at all.

We did play in the water at Ein Gedi. Although there is desert all around, there are springs of water that bubble up from deep inside the Earth. Ein Gedi is one of those places.

There are waterfalls and all sorts of animals who come to live nearby and use the water. It's a popular place to visit and hike for people from Israel and all over the world. We also saw an ancient synagogue near Ein Gedi, which was in use from the 3rd to the 6th centuries. The floor is done in mosaic (tiny flat stones lined up to make words or pictures), a style borrowed from the Romans.

Close to Ein Gedi is Masada. Masada is a hilltop in the desert. It was first used by King Herod, who built a fancy palace on it. About 70 years after he died, Jews who were fleeing from the Romans, who were laying siege to Jerusalem, used Masada as a refuge. About 1,000 people lived there for up to seven years, dividing the palace rooms among them and building a few more buildings, including a synagogue. The Romans arrived to conquer the Jewish rebels. You can still see the outlines of their camps at the bottom of the mountain.

It took longer than the Romans expected (several months) to be able to take control of Masada. In the meantime, the rebels decided that they would take their own lives instead of becoming Roman slaves or being killed at the hands of the soldiers. Only two women and five children survived and told their story to the historian and writer Josephus Flavius. Now Masada is a very popular place to visit, and we heard so many different languages being spoken there. There are three ways to get to the top: two walking paths and a cable car. We took the cable car and had a wonderful view of the Dead Sea on the way!

We are so happy that you came to visit us! We would love to see you again (your non-flat family is welcome too!). Although we saw and did so many things, it’s just a small taste of this history-packed country. You’re a great traveler, and we wish you well on your adventures around the world!


Kate (onetiredema), Taxman, Miss M & AM

I am extremely grateful to Kate and her family for volunteering to show (flat) Ainsleigh around. This Internet thing is so great! (do I sound like a Grandma? Oh wait, my mom is a grandma. Do I sound like a great-great grandma?) We would love to visit in the flesh some day!


mother in israel said...

Thank you, Kate and Sarah! Great pictures.