|In Matan’s dorm room.|
Then, we went nearby to the Nachal Pratzim where we enjoyed an hour walk inside the canyon walls. It was absolutely breathtaking and the kids loved playing with the chalky walls and making mud piles where they could. Is that surprising?
There are seven communities nestled in the Arava. The land looks so stark and barren, and then you turn off the main road and suddenly feel like you’ve come to an oasis. It is amazing how the people in the area have cultivated the land and built communities out of nothing. Most of the communities in this area produce vegetables, flowers and other items for export. The communities in the Arava are responsible for producing 65% of the vegetables eaten in all of Israel!
So we stayed in one community called Hatzeva where our landlords grow peppers, eggplant and other items. They also have an adorable restaurant that they open only when someone requests it, and they have five cabins for rent. We stayed in two and it was spacious and perfect for us.
Day 2 began with a journey to the Antelope Ranch. This is an expansive ranch in the Arava where a couple decided to plant their roots and bring in endangered animals. Visitors can enjoy their quite impressive Noah’s Ark that is filled with everything from birds and bunnies to peacocks and roosters. Then, they can drive through the area in a car and see zebras, antelope, wildebeest, Nubian ibex and more. The have an African wild ass, one of only eighty left in the world (and one of six in Israel), that we got to see as well. The guide gave us a great overview of the place and the animals that are there. And of course, Yakir had to try on the antlers for size.
As we were driving back from the Antelope Ranch to our next adventure, this happened. Oy.
On our way back to our apartment, we drove through the green houses where they grow so many amazing fruits and vegetables. And we found this on the side of the road…yeah, that is a zucchini! Holy smokes!
On the third morning, we treated the kids to an awesome jeeping experience (courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa’s family Chanukah gift). Everyone had a blast.
And then we went to the Vidor Center where they teach people about the Arava. The center is brilliantly designed with a short 3D movie, a visit to two hot houses where they show how they grow vegetables, flowers and more, and an interactive room that teaches everyone. It was an amazing learning experience for everyone in the family from age 4 to 43…the take away is that we are an incredible people that can literally make the barren desert bloom!
|Inside one of the chamamas (hot houses).|
We came home educated and energized. It is truly a blessing to be able to show the kids something new every time that we go on vacation and to teach them about this beautiful, dynamic country filled with treasures. We lit the Chanukah candles for the last night, and sighed that the holiday and vacation were coming to an end.
But we will now have the Arava in our hearts…until the next adventure.