Yesterday my husband had the day off, so we decided to take a short drive to Rosh HaNikra. This is a well-known tourist destination on Israel’s northernmost point on the Mediterranean, right on the Lebanese border.
At the Israeli-Lebanese border checkpost, currently passable only by UN personnel, is a sign in Hebrew, Arabic and English: “Go in peace.” Considering it leads to an enemy frontier controlled by Hizbollah, it’s a lot to hope for, but significant in that the sign is found on the Israeli side of the fence.
The towering limestone cliffs lead to a grotto at sea line, accessible only by cable car. We skipped this in favor of a walk that goes along the coastline from Rosh HaNikra to Achziv Beach, arguably the most beautiful beach in Israel. There are many areas of shoals and tidal pools; the warm seawater is a clear and vivid turquoise; and the beach has a variety of areas for camping, sunning and swimming (though the latter is only in designated areas manned by lifeguards) as well as some crumbling antiquities to explore. On a clear day you can see down the entire northern coast all the way to Haifa Bay. The area is surrounded by kibbutzim and their banana groves.
We were greeted at the entrance by an Israeli soldier who was guarding the area, and Abu Musa, a chatty Arab gentleman who helps control access of the many cars and tourist buses into the parking lot.
“I love the Israeli soldiers and they love me. They even erected a little shelter for me where they know they can come for coffee, tea or cold water whenever they want. I want their mothers to know I take care of their boys and they are in good hands. I have a good life. I don’t earn much, but look! The sun, the sky, the sea, the view, the tourists and the soldiers I love to help — that’s what life is really all about. What more could I possibly ask for?”
I asked if I could take his picture.
“Of course,” he replied, “but only if you include the soldier.”