Our day started idyllically, waking in our beautiful cabin at Carmey Avdat to find a huge and delicious breakfast waiting for us in a cooler outside the door (along with our camera returned by Benny). We didn't get moving until about 9:30 or so, and we loved the farm so much we decided to stay until check out at noon. The girls swam in the pool again, and Eitan and Shany and Sima went exploring on the farm. We got a brief tour of the winery shed, and climbed up the hill to see Nabataean writings carved into a stone. The farm is built on an archeological area, but they have worked with the authorities to protect the relics. The Izraeli family also set up the farm to be ecologically sound; they use efficient irrigation techniques (water in pool we enjoyed is later used for irrigation). Naomi and Shany went to see the farm's horses including a baby horse; Eitan stayed far away. We really did not want to leave the farm, but alas we had to. We were planing on doing an hour hike in to a place you can swim at Ein Ekev, which is nearby. But Halelei, on of the two adorable young women who works at the farm (Ora was the other, they both took very good care of us) told use it was a five hour hike in total, which we were not up to. Shany was very interested in Avdat, so we decided to drive the 10 minutes there an check it out.
Avdat is an ancient Nabataeans city built up high on a hill. It was later used and added on to by the Romans. The Nabataeans were an ancient Arab people. In ancient times Nabataean traders carried spice and incense between Petra and Gaza, and Avdat lies directly on this "spice route". Avdat had been excavated and some of the structures had been restored, but a couple of years ago vandals attacked the site and destroyed must of the restoration. The city is currently being re-restored. We were the only ones in the park, and drove to the top of the hill to walk around the ruins. After walking around the remaining arches, columns and cisterns for a short while, the heat began to get to us (it is quite hot on the top of a hill in the Negev at 1pm at the end of June) and despite the fact that it is a large site and required more time to see it all, we had to go.
This was a theme today, we had great plans for the afternoon but the heat made it difficult to follow through. No hike to Ein Ekev. Short visit to Avdat. Aborted visit to Ein Ekev, a canyon with a waterfall, because we were too hot. A short visit to David and Paul Ben Gurion's grave, which is in a gorgeous park near Sde Boker that has some shade and lots of grazing ibex, because it was too hot to be out for long. And again we were the only people there. Naomi keeps wondering why we are so crazy to be out in the heat when all the "normal people" are inside. We skipped Ben Guiron's desert home at Sde Boker because we wanted to get to the Israeli Air Force Museum with time to visit there. So we drove to Beersheva and to the museum. The museum has small area inside with various displays about planes and pilots clothing and equipment, and the soldier in this area gave us a very nice talk. She told us how the Israeli Air Force started with homemade bombs dropped out the window of regular plane -- Israel initially had no war planes as no other country would sell them to the new state. She also told us about the types of flight suits that soldiers wear, how to tell an F15 from and F16, and other assorted air force facts. But the majority of the museum is plane after plane after plane outside in a big area with no shade. Again very hot. We did spend an hour or so looking at the planes outside - we found a couple made by McDonnell Douglas. The kids could climb into a couple of the planes. We looked at lots of antiaircraft guns. Sima's favorites are two planes on display that were brought to Israel by defecting pilots, one from Iraq in 1966, and one from Syria in 1989. Those planes were then used by the IAF to gather intelligence and prepare for battle.
We grabbed some sandwiches at the museum concesssion, and then piled back in for the drive to Netanya. Again on 6, the drive was not so bad, and we got into Netanya in time to watch the sunset from the beach. Sadly, Shany had to leave us. it was SO WONDERFUL to be with her, and we so appreciate that she made the time for us with papers due and getting ready to head of to Switzerland for the summer on motzei shabbat. Now we are back in the apartment, relaxing with the air conditioning on (it is starting to get hot here, the breezes of the sea had kept us cool until now), and awaiting Mike's return in a few hours.