Rafi and I needed to get out of Haifa, so I arranged to borrow our cousins’ car and go to a place called Gan Hashlosha, an outdoor water park (not the kind with slides). He’s been doing so well at the Technion pool that I didn’t even think twice about whether he would like it.
He refused to go in the water. (It didn’t help that I slipped on mossy rocks right off the bat.) I carried him in and sat with him on my lap; he wormed his way out and was up on the rocks before I could say boo.
There was a small cave near the wading pool with two entrances and some minor climbing, so Rafi played “go round and round in and out of the cave” while I climbed in the waterfall. That was fun for about five minutes. We walked around the entire park and took in the scenery and relaxed atmosphere. That was fun for about half an hour.
I was so disappointed. Luckily there were other things to do on the site.
“Let’s go to the museum,” said Rafi. (Strange child.)
The archaeological museum was actually really cool. It had all kinds of old artifacts out in the open–no touching, of course, but still the fact that they were not behind glass made them seem more immediate, like you could imagine being an ancient Canaanite cooking stew in a clay pot. Rafi asked what everything was and listened patiently while I talked about it. I guess I can take him to museums now.
The coolest thing, though, was a reconstructed חומה ומגדל, or “tower and stockade” (literally wall and tower) pioneer settlement. From 1936-1939, because of Arab revolts, the British had made new Jewish settlements illegal, even on land they legally owned (purchased through the JNF 30 years before). So the pioneers built their settlements hastily, overnight. The wall and tower were built first for defense. After that they built the rest of the buildings. I highly recommend you check out some of the sites I linked to for pictures and more description because it’s pretty intense to imagine the determination of the halutzim (pioneers).
The reconstruction was complete with props to show how the settlers did laundry, cooked, ate, slept, dressed, and worked. Thirty people lived in a few small buildings around a small courtyard, four or five to a room, no running water. In each building (kitchen, dining room, etc.) there was a sign with questions to get visitors thinking about how the settlers lived, and in another room there were historical pictures and maps. I climbed the tower, which was actually kind of scary because it was a narrow metal ladder up a few stories.
After that we went to nearby Beit Alpha, the site of an ancient synagogue with a well-preserved mosaic floor. To be honest, it’s not great artistic work. A movie (complete with period costumes) at the site that explains why: in a sort of backward part of the country, they couldn’t afford to hire a more skilled master. The mosaic at Hamat Tiberias is better (here’s a detail for comparison compared to Beit Alpha). But the Beit Alpha mosaic is about 95% intact whereas the others are missing giant chunks.
We stayed in Hoshaya for a day and took a hike to enjoy the rural quiet before getting on a bus back to Haifa.
It’s very hot although the days are getting noticeably shorter. School starts back up on Monday.