I popped in the place in the GPS, and noticed it was acting really funky. First off, it took a few MINUTES to calculate. That doesn't bode well. THEN, when it finally came up, the directions went directly south, with a perpendicular line east to the site. That didn't seem quite right. I started to follow anyway. The 'road' that it told me to go on kept shifting and I just couldn't seem to find it. I finally stumbled on the road that takes you to Bethlehem, and as I zoomed out on the GPS, I saw that Herodium was further away than Bethlehem and smack dab in the middle of the West Bank (Palestine). Now, if I were with Devin, I may have still tried it out. But there were a few things against me. First off, the GPS doesn't work in that area, which is why it wasn't giving me any specific directions. Second off, while we CAN drive in the West Bank, there are many places we're not allowed to go, and I don't know where they are. Third, if ANYTHING were to happen and the checkpoints were closed, I'd be stuck, and it could potentially be dangerous. Maybe not, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. As I was meandering around the city, trying to find my way, some guy jumped in the middle of the street and flagged me down. He told me that Herodium (aka Herodion, Herodyon...they're very loose with their spelling here) was over an hour from here, but he could take me if I just jumped in his taxi! He could take me there and to Bethlehem and to Masada... Now, these ARE places I'd like to see, but not by myself with the kids in some strange guys' taxi. No, thank you.
So, we changed our plans. I had planned to go to some Stalactite Caves, so I entered that into the GPS, and off we went! It didn't take more than a few seconds to get the directions up, so I knew it was safe. :) It still took 45 minutes to get there, but the drive was GORGEOUS!! We wound our way through mountains covered with evergreen trees. There was hardly anyone on the road. It was lovely!
The caves were interesting... We got there right in the middle of about 45 school groups. Sheesh. The lady at the ticket counter took our money, and told us to tag along with the school groups. You couldn't get into the caves without a tour guide. So, we tagged along. The group was an Arabic school group. The guide spoke only Hebrew. So, she told them things in Hebrew, then a teacher translated it into Arabic, and the kids and I looked for bugs. They gave a whole schpill outside the caves, then showed a movie, then we FINALLY got to go in. It was really pretty inside--very cool formations and the lights changed colors just for fun. The groups inside were sort of annoying, since they had to stop every once in awhile and talk some more--in Hebrew and Arabic. Luckily, the kids and I were able to slip by a few groups and do our own thing. We were grateful for the education we received when we went to the Timpanogos Caves this past summer, as we knew most of the formations! Peter had never been in a cave like this, so we taught him the names of all the different formations: Stalactites, stalagmites, cave straws, flowstones, cave popcorn. The cave popcorn was Peter's favorite. At one point, there was this 'field' of cave popcorn next to a little pool. Peter looked at the pool and said, "Look! An ancient bath!" Smart kid! I told him that this was where they people anciently had movie nights. They ate a lot of popcorn and made a big mess, then jumped into the bath to clean off. The kids thought that was very funny. :)
After our cave tour, we found a park off to the side of the road in the mountains! We had a picnic, and the kids played for hours. They found a BIG playhouse. When Andrew told Peter to take a look at that, Peter said, "Oh. A fortress." He's a riot! They played house (I was the grandma. I'm ashamed at my kids and their lack of respect for my youth!) and enjoyed themselves immensely. I did get a chance to sit and just enjoy the peace of the forest. I watched these very pretty birds fly all over...and eat our discarded fruit! :)
It was a day well spent!