With Noah away for the day, we decided to some things that the younger three might enjoy and to take cabs instead of the bus as we are only 4 people and can all fit into one cab. So, we left the house by 8:45 (a record early start for us) so that we could arrive at the Biblical Zoo when it opened at 9:00. I had wanted to go there with the kids when we were at Ein Yael last week as we were there anyway at the bus stop, but they refused. After Hili gave the zoo a rave review I overrode the kid vote, and I am glad I did. When we got there it was still cool (relatively) and shady, and the animals were active. The zoo is spread out on a lush campus, and the animal habitats blend in with the surroundings. We were immediately drawn to the Siamang monkeys who live on an island in a large pond that stretches through much of the zoo. They have ropes to climb out on over the water, and can come fairly close to the pedestrian bridge that overlooks them. The zoo is different in a several ways for our famous St. Louis zoo. Often several animals are together in one enclosure, for example the rhinos, hippos, zebras, ostriches, and giraffes are all in one large enclosure with trees and other shaded areas, and with a large pond. Most the animals on display are indigenous to the region, and quotes from Tenach about the animals are on their display signs. The kids favorite animals were the meerkats and prairie dogs as the kids could go through tunnels under the exhibit and pop up into a plastic bubble in the middle and get very close to the animals. Eitan loved the rhinosaurus, and Naomi was very fond of the hippo who at first looked like a rock with a bird on it, but then surfaced to take a breath. And we all loved the naked mole rats. At about noon the zoo started to get hot and crowded with loud and pushy day campers, so we departed with our friendly cab driver, who we called to pick us up, and headed for the Bloomfield Science Museum.
We visited the science museum when we were here four years ago, and the kids loved it this time as much as the last. We spent several hours investigating simple machines, electricity, and basic physics among other concepts. It was also a pleasure to be able to eat at the museum snack bar! As our museum exploration wound down, we decided to take the bus back to the center of town to run a couple of errands before heading home. But I remembered from our last visit that we had a hard time finding the bus stop as there is no bus service directly to the museum, you have to catch it at the University Campus across the street. I still have memories of trudging up a giant hill in the heat, searching for a path to a bus stop. Well, it turns out that elusive bus stop is quite simple to find with good directions -- it is an easy 5 minute walk down the street from the museum. So we hopped on the bus (after a wait, of course) and got off at the center of town. We picked up Naomi's beautiful new siddur and a few other gifts, and then used our transfers to take the bus back to the apartment. After an hour or so of rest, Hili and Maayan and Adin met us at the apartment. We had planned to have dinner together and then go to the Migdal David "Night Spectacular" light show. As we began our walk towards dinner and the Old City, Maayan started to not feel so well, and let's just say be careful where you walk on the sidewalk near the King David hotel. But after leaving her deposit, Maayan did feel much better so she was a real trooper and continued on. We made it to Mamilla and had an extremely rushed dinner at Cafe Cafe, during which both Noah and Sara joined us. More on Noah's adventure later. Hili got some Tylenol for Maayan, who was still hanging in there, and we all hustled off to Migdal David.
The Night Spectacular truly was spectacular. As you walk in through the courtyard, there are various scenes projected on to the walls, showing representatives of the peoples who have lived in Jerusalem through the ages. Eventually our winding walk ended in the main area of the courtyard where seats were set up, and after everyone was seated the lights dimmed and the real show began. It is hard to describe, but basically the show told the story of Jerusalem and its people from the time of creation up through the 1900's, with virtually no words. The story is projected onto the walls and towers and corners and crevices of Midgal David. A huge section of the building itself is the movie screen, and the show uses the shape of the walls to help tell the story. The scenes flowed from creation, to King David building Jerusalem, to the building and burning and building and burning of the Beit Hamigdash, to the Crusaders, Byzantines, and on. It was an amazing show (though hard for the younger kids to follow); Noah, Sara, Hili and I LOVED it.
After the show Hili took a cab back to Pinsker and her car with her very tired kids. We have really enjoyed hanging out with the Zimbalists here, so fortunate that we could be here at the same time enjoy our vacations together, and we are glad that we will see them in St. Louis in another month or so. The Oberlanders and Sara stopped for some Aroma and hung out in Mamilla until Sara had to leave to catch her bus. It was not so easy to say good-bye as we will not see her again this trip. Sara has really taken care of us and made us feel so good and so welcome and so much a part of her world. We are so lucky to have had this time together but so sad it has to end...
I will respect Noah's teenage privacy and not report too many details about his trip except to say that he was very independent and confident, and had a lot of fun. And he ate a 450g burger for lunch. My favorite moments -- Dvir (the kid he was staying with) called Noah while he was on the bus on his way there and said give the phone to the guy sitting behind you. Noah gave the phone to this complete stranger and Dvir told the guy, hey, help my friend get off at the right stop. And of course he complied. Second favorite detail -- Noah and one of the other guys he was in Tel Aviv with today went for walk at the outdoor mall that was part of the beach where they were hanging out. But they did not bring shoes, and the cement was really hot. So instead of getting their shoes, they sprinted across 50 meters of pavement, burned their feet, asked a waitress somewhere for water but then were to embarrassed to not drink it so they put it in their mouths and then spit on their feet. Complete teenagers.