I woke up a little early this morning, worried about the car and how we're going to visit places with our luggage visible in the backseat. We ordered a midsized car and they gave us a Subaru Impreza. Far too small. The people in the back are cramped, and the boot only can fit three suitcases (we have four, plus bags).
On the bright side, I did dream some in Hebrew last night. Sometimes people ask if I'm fluent in Hebrew and I never say yes; I'm far too aware of my limitations. I would describe myself as having the vocabulary of a 4th or 5th grader, depending on the subject. One thing I've also noticed is that I sometimes get a brain freeze. I can move between Hebrew and English fine enough, but if I meet someone with whom I speak German, things get more complicated. I can't easily switch back to Hebrew. Instead, my brain freezes and I can't say anything at all, as I can no longer figure out what language I should be speaking.
Sunrise was beautiful this morning, so I walked around the kibbut perimeter, seeing Nahal Arugot lit up in the rising sun. The air was so still and clear, I could hear a car door close half a mile away. My father got up, so we walked around for a while. We couldn't get the car repaired until 8 am, after which we would join my mom and Rochelle in the dining hall. We drove up to the garage and found someone. He asked me to take the tire out, but it's still very hard to lift heavy items on my right hand due to the stitches. Eventually we got the tire out and headed to breakfast.
Today I had some cereal along with my regular mix of tomatoes, yoghurt, bread and butter. We stayed for about an hour and then dad and I headed back to the garage (after negotiating a difficult turn to avoid an oncoming truck). Unfortunately, they still had not managed to get the tire off the room. There was a problem with the machine and the guy whose task it was had trouble figuring things out. He seemed quite sweet, but more than a little slow. Eventually, the moved everything to the older machine and plugged the puncture. 40 shekels later we were rolling again.
By 10:30 am, we had the car loaded and we headed north. Our first stop: Bet Alpha. This ancient synagogue from the 6th century has a beautiful mosaic floor, with a large zodiac display in the center, the sacrifice of Isaac at the bottom, and an ark and candelabras at the top. In the middle of the zodiac is a striking depiction of the sun god Helios driving his chariot across the sky (and at the very bottom, a description of the donation that paid for it, by the villagers).
There was a short film in which they recreated the planning and execution of the mosaic, which was far too unrealistic in depicting a strikingly nonacronistic debates over the mosaic design, so inconsistent with my experience of organized Jewish life.
We stopped in Bet Shean for lunch. Mom and I got some felafel from a roadside vender in what looked to me like the kind of Bet Shean community I saw here in 1984. Then it was back on the road to Belvoir. This amazing crusader castle in 6 kilometers UP a long, narrow, badly rutted, winding road. Whenever we were passed by a car coming down, I got to the side of the road and stopped. "Isn't it the cars coming down who should stop?" mom asked. "They're not stopping and I'm not passing on the shoulder," I answered.
The castle itself is beautiful and it has great views. Mom walked across the moat with difficulty (she had to run and avoid looking), but the weather was cold, overcast and threatening rain, so we didn't stay long.
It was getting late, so we headed right to Kibbutz Kfar Blum, arriving here around 4 pm. The hotel is quite nice and the rooms, plush and modern. They all went to take naps, while I went to the "spa." It actually isn't bad. They have feet jaccuzzis, a "hammam," a Finnish sauna, and a "rain cave." In the later, the water is triggered as you walk in, and you are bombarded by jets of warm and cool water from all directions, with different levels of strength. It wasn't bad. At one point I went out over tea, and then did another round.
We're meeting for dinner in a bit, and we will head back to Tel-Aviv tomorrow. I'm not sure of our itinerary yet.