This was a wonderful weekend. Except for the heat, it couldn’t have been much more fun.
On Friday, Kip, William and I went to the Monkey Forest, about halfway between Haifa and the Sea of Galilee. Kip’s coworker had told us to take fruit and feed the monkeys, so Kip chopped apples and peeled oranges and took the banana William didn’t finish at breakfast. The Monkey Forest has a lot more than just Monkeys. In fact, the first thing a visitor notices upon entering the park is the large amount of roosters crowing noisily to one another and wandering freely around the paths. There are also freely wandering ducks, pelicans (though they stay near their pool), peacocks and hens, and assorted “wild animals.” We saw deer and rabbits and lamas roaming around. The walkways were cut through the forest and fairly well shaded by the trees, which was lucky because it was incredibly hot, even at 10:00 in the morning when we got there. The first animals we fed were the Ganon and Macaque Monkeys. They have a tunnel going through their enclosure where you can walk through and have them walking around above you. There’s a layer of wire mesh for the tunnel and another layer for their enclosure, so they’re pretty well separated from visitors. I don’t know if we were supposed to feed them, the rules were very vague about feeding which animals and what. I pushed a chunk of apple up through the bottom layer of wire and a monkey above me reached down and caught it with its fingers and worked the apple up through the second layer and ate it. Then, we had a lot more monkeys looking for food. We found a place where we could toss the monkeys pieces of fruit over the fence and they were very happy. And we didn’t feed them very much.
We wandered around for a few hours showing William the animals. He learned to say “I see a baboon” and repeated it for several minutes before going back to his favorite thing—rocks. He would stoop down periodically as we walked along the pathways and touch a rock and say “daht?” Kip and I would either say “rock” or ask him what he thought it was. Then, he would say rock. He would try to pick them up, especially the big ones, and then try to carry them with us until he saw a better one or dropped the one he had because it was too big. Finally, we found the enclosure people come to the park to see. It was the Squirrel monkey enclosure. This one has a door so visitors can go right in with the monkeys and give them food. We took our apples and oranges in their and Kip filmed me feeding the monkeys. As soon as they realized that I had food, they were all over me. They sat on my shoulders or clung to my pregnant belly – conveniently close to the food container. Their little feet were cool on my skin in spite of the hot weather, which made me think at first that I was getting peed on. It was really fun to have them on me, but a little unnerving. After they finished off our fruit, Kip went and got their official food from the coffee shop – a cup of little worms. I filmed him feeding the monkeys those. For some reason, they didn’t like sitting on Kip as much. They would climb on him and snatch the worms, but they did it one at a time instead of in a group and immediately jumped back off. He thinks it’s because I’m easier to cling to with my fat belly, but most of them were on my shoulders (and one even took off my bandana). Kip held the worm spoon on William’s shoulders and got a monkey on him, but it kind of scared him, so we didn’t force it. William spent the majority of our time in the monkey cage looking at rocks and ignoring his crazy parents and their monkeys.
After finishing our worms, the monkeys had no further use for us and disappeared into their trees. We were hot and tired, so I insisted on getting ice cream treats from the food stand (where you can buy ice cream, cool drinks, or worms depending on your preferences). I got a Nestle Nok Out bar which was super rich and delicious and Kip got a Magnum which didn’t seem as good for costing the same. We got William a Popsicle but he wasn’t interested, so I ate it too. He watched us eat for a while. So did the roosters, gathering under our table and snatching at chocolate bits that fell down there. Then, William went wandering. I sent Kip after him. We spent the next half hour going back and forth on a wooden bridge over a murky pond with ducks swimming in it. William was fascinated with looking at the water through the bridge and kept saying “water down.” He would go over one way, get to the end and turn around and go back. It took some persuading to get him to go back to the car.
William took his nap on the drive home, so when we finally got home and all Kip and I wanted to do was sleep, all he wanted to do was play. Kip kindly took him off to the store and I tried to sleep and failed because it was just too hot. We do have an air conditioner, but the cool air doesn’t seem to penetrate the bedroom. It builds up in the front entry room and doesn’t do much for the rest of the house. So, after Kip and William got back and we all sat around a little longer, we decided to head to the beach.
We got to the beach at around 5:00, when most people were headed home and the sun was getting low over the water. We chose a spot on the sand and settled our stuff down and then William and Kip went up to play in the waves. William took a while to get into it, but then he realized how fun it was to throw rocks into the water as the waves came toward him. He loved it. And the beach is full of small rocks perfect for tossing into water. The sand is nice, fine and soft, not at all like at the Dead Sea. There are just a lot of small, smooth, beach rocks in it. And a ton of perfectly shaped sea shells. They’re all the same type of shell, the ones that are kind of a ridged third of a circle. But it amazes me to find so many perfect ones after not seeing any at all in Oregon and not many in Mexico.
William and Kip played for quite a while in the cool water. The sun got low and the breeze got cold. They eventually moved on to the big, fish-shaped play structure where William fell face first off the end of a slide and got sand all over himself. Later, he went down another slide before the little girl at the bottom had moved (she was just standing there forever and her parents didn’t even ask her to move even though they could see William wanted to come down) and he knocked her over and made her cry. I told them we were sorry (in English) and they said it was OK, but that was the limit of their English. Then, we dragged William home and forced him into a bath and to bed.
Saturday was district visit day at church. We had several people from the District center (Jerusalem) come out. It was nice to have so many people at church, especially so many English-speakers. We had some good talks and a good Sunday School lesson. Then, it was pot-luck time. I had brought my Mediterranean Pasta Salad (a cold version of a recipe I got from Real Simple before leaving) and it was a hit. There were several other salads, although most contained Kip’s least favorite food – tuna. And there were fruits and deserts. It was a nice meal. I got a lot of comments on how big I’d grown in the two weeks since we’d been at church (we missed church when we went to the Dead Sea). I guess I am getting big. I think that’s how it’s supposed to work.
When we got home from church, I took a nap. This time I succeeded in sleeping, in spite of the heat. I slept a good three hours and poor Kip had to keep William entertained all by himself. I think they only watched the Thomas video once, so he was successful in finding other things for William to do. And it was VERY nice to sleep.
So, it was a great weekend. The monkeys were a lot of fun. The beach was great and I intend to spend more time there. Church was nice and I enjoyed being fed afterward. And sleep is always great. I hope to have more weekends like that.