The excursion we had with my brother and his family before they returned to the states was on July 1st, which is our wedding anniversary. This year is our 6th year of marriage, which is exciting since 6 is a mathematically perfect number. 🙂 I know we are nerds, but we are okay with that.
Adam and I are not the type of people who make a big deal about our anniversary. We typically try to spend a little time together, but especially when it is a week day, there are the usual mundane tasks that need to get done, so our celebration revolves around dinner. That is our main tradition actually; we make dinner together and have a leisurely meal. My additional tradition is that I usually wear my tiara from our wedding since it cost a lot more than it should have so I want to get some use out of it. Adam always laughs when he sees me wearing it while washing dishes or filing papers. This year we made dinner together but I didn’t wear my tiara since I left it back in the states.
People may wonder if it was weird to celebrate our anniversary away from home, but it actually isn’t too weird for us since our anniversary tends to happen when Adam has a math conference. Since it is the summer, I usually go with him, so we have spent our anniversary in many different places, such as Utah and Toronto. Actually, this year, when given the opportunity to spend the morning with my brother and his family, we were very excited to do so. We rarely get to spend our anniversary with family so this was a treat! They thought we were crazy, but weren’t going to say no to us joining them, especially since they were leaving the next night to return to the US.
Our final excursion with my brother and his family was the Biblical Zoo which is in Jerusalem. Adam and I have known about the zoo since before we came here and have wanted to visit but we knew that my brother and his family were planning on coming, so we wanted to wait to experience it with the kids. Zoos are always a lot more fun with kids, especially my niece and nephew since they love animals in the zoo. My nephew is actually doing a week long camp program this summer at the zoo in their home town. Maybe a future zoologist??
The zoo can easily be accessed by bus, so we met my my family and made our way to the first bus stop. We didn’t have to wait long, so we arrived at the next stop about 15 minutes early. We were a little confused about where the next bus picked up since we had never ridden it before, and unfortunately the person we asked gave us incorrect information, so we missed the first bus to the zoo. Amazingly, when we got to the right place (which was literally right around the corner) we only had to wait about 5 minutes for the bus we wanted. The first bus must have been running late. The joys of public transportation! It worked out though; we got to the zoo around the time we had planned, which gave us the full morning and afternoon to explore.
The zoo itself was amazing! Even though it was another hot day, the walk around the zoo was pretty well shaded. The exhibits weren’t spread too far apart so there was always something new to see and learn about. The zoo has two main focuses: The first is to maintain a collection of the animals mentioned in Tanakh, which includes not only the Torah but also the books of the prophets (Nevi’im) and other writings (Ketuvim), such as the psalms and proverbs. Unfortunately, many of these animals have become extinct in the Israeli wild, so the only place to see them is at the zoo. The second focus of the zoo, like all zoos, is to help preserve animal species that are threatened or endangered. The Biblical Zoo participates in conservation and breeding of these species. Visiting there is not just a great and inexpensive outing, but it supports these efforts. If you come to Jerusalem and have time, you should visit. It is great for people of all ages!
We used the map that the zoo provided us to strategically plan a route that allowed us to see almost all of the animals in the zoo. We started by visiting the exhibits in the section containing animals from around the world that are vaguely referenced in Tanakh. There are too many animals to name, but some of the highlights were the penguins, lemurs, tigers, bears, Lories (very small birds), prairie dogs, meerkats, and squirrel monkeys. Our favorites were the squirrel monkeys and the prairie dogs. The squirrel monkeys are extremely agile and playful, which led to amazing acrobatics that were delightful to watch! The prairie dogs were absolutely adorable as they dug around in their habitat. Adam went through the tunnel system that brings you inside the habitat close to them, while I stood by the window flirting with one prairie dog who was just sitting by the window chilling out.
Before heading to the other side of the zoo where the animals specifically mentioned in the bible are located, we had lunch in the shade. It was nice to eat outside and all the walking had really built up our appetites! Then we made our way to the Bible Land section where we saw animals, such as giraffes, ibex, ostriches, zebras, and even a hippopotamus! This section had signs that explained the exact reference to the animals in Tanakh and explained the current status of the animals in Israel. Most, if not all of them, are extinct in Israel, which is sad. At the end of this section of the zoo is the Noah’s Ark Visitor Center, which you can imagine looks like a gigantic boat. Inside the center there was an exhibit of jewelry that was inspired by the animal kingdom. Some of it was absolutely exquisite! After we left the visitor center (without stopping at the gift shop amazingly), we waited to board the zoo train. My nephew had wanted to take the train earlier but it had made more sense to walk up until this point so that we didn’t miss any of the exhibits that we wanted to see. At this point, we had already seen pretty much everything, so taking it back made sense. Plus, the kids were getting tired. We got on the train which was packed with people and rode it for two stops. We didn’t take it all the way to the entrance because there were a few exhibits still to see, such as the prairie dogs, meerkats, and the australian wildlife. The last thing we saw before leaving the zoo were more of the water birds. There was a gigantic pelican! It was so cool!
We spent about 4 hours at the zoo and loved every minute of it! Everywhere we went, we were amazed by what we saw. It was a really great way to spend our anniversary! After we saw everything that we could see, we got the bus back to our area. We parted ways with my family at this point; everyone was a bit tired and needed a rest. I originally figured that Adam would do some work at this point, but he surprised me by taking the whole day off. I couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary present!
We hung out for a while until it was time to make dinner. We kept to our tradition, although things were a bit less fancy than usual. We made some soup and grilled cheese. It was tasty and quick, since we decided to go see a movie as a way to wrap up the day. After we ate a quick meal and then walked to the movie theater near our apartment. We got there just in time for the regular showing of Superman (I don’t really like 3D). We both really liked the movie, and our unborn child found it extremely stimulating as evidenced by the punches and kicks that I received throughout the movie. When it was over, we had a nice leisurely walk back home discussing the movie. It was nice and cool by this time. We made a detour to the 24 hour market near our house to pick up some treats (Yay for Mike and Ikes!), and then went home to chill out before bed.
It was a wonderfully long day, and a great anniversary. Everyday I thank G-d for the blessings I have been given, two of which include my amazing husband and my wonderful family. This anniversary I got to celebrate those blessings by being with them both!
Until next time…