Day 9: Nimrod Fortress, Banias Nature Reserve

Trip Start May 04, 2012
Trip End May 27, 2012

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Nimrod Fortress National Park
Banias Nature Reserve

Flag of Israel  ,
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Maayan" in Hebrew means “coming from a spring”.   An embodiment of this name is Maayan of the 1885 Suites in Rosh Pina.  She has this irresistible smile that comes from deep inside and positive energy just oozes out from her.  She had been a secular Jew, and through the program she learned about the Reform movement. Back at home now, she is active in the burgeoning Reform movement that many believe will be a counter-balance to the ultra-Orthodox.  Maayan tells us that the storks that we see flying off the balcony are trying to find the winds for their migration.  These are the relaxing ones, the last of the migration.

On this trip, we have now stayed in two B&B's.  This experience has given us an opportunity to sit and talk with Israelis and it’s been a thought provoking and fun experience.

We are on our way to the northern Golan Heights that borders Syria.  On either side of the road are barbed wire fences with signs “danger – land mines”.  In an open field we see a row of military tanks with soldiers lined up facing in the direction of Syria.  Just a short distance away, we see cultivated fields of cherries and other crops.  We hope this sign by the side of the road is more than wishful thinking.
We explore Nimrod Fortress, built by the Mameluke’s who defended the route to Damascus from the Crusaders in 1227.  The views are outstanding in all directions.  The stones and the fortification structure remind me of war and I’m not feeling particularly engaged.  I’m glad to move on.

I perk up at the Banias Reserve.  The Hermon Stream (Banias) along with the Dan and Senir streams combine to form the headwaters of the Jordan River. In this nature reserve, we not only are treated to the sound and flow of the Banias, but see fascinating remnants from the past. Here’s one of those remnants:  After Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.E., a Panaeon was constructed, a temple to the god Pan, who lived in nature.  The Temple is no longer there, but the back of the Temple was the Cave of Pan – and that’s now easily viewed - a giant cave where the water is the point where the Banias Springs emerge.  With water being so sparse in this region, it is no wonder that this was a spiritual place.  

A very special experience was walking on The Suspended Trail, a walk through a narrow canyon with the rushing Hermon Stream, which is still going strong this time of year. The winds had really picked up – between the gushing water and the wind in the trees – it felt like a breath of fresh air and cleared my energy.

Tip:  The Suspended Trail is part of the Hermon Stream Nature Reserve.  It is about a 90 minute walk from the main archaeological area to the Waterfall & Suspended Trail.  We drove between the two sections.  Be sure to keep your entrance ticket for admission to each section of the reserve.

We’re back at the 1885 Suites in Rosh Pina and we sit on our balcony overlooking the Golan Heights in the distance and watch the sunset.  Between the water flowing in the streams and waterfalls today and the now strong gusty wind that is now flowing over us, today felt like “a breath of fresh air”.  We open a cold beer called ButterFly that is a local brew. We’re talking about the future…

We make a toast for the day – “LaBriot” – to your health!

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