Day 4: Finishing up in north country with a new cast of characters

Sunday, 29 May, 2011 - 7:37 pm

Well, we had a real cushy gig at the King Solomon Hotel in Tiberias: big rooms, outdoor patio, grassy knolls, bountiful food, and a panoramic view of the Kinneret. It was fun while it lasted, but the show must go on, and the trip must proceed. So yesterday morning, we packed our bags and said goodbye to Tiberias as we shipped up north for a day that was incredibly fast-paced, and certainly kept us on our toes. Click on Images to enlarge 

I know I said previously that lunch was the most anticipated part of our trip. That might have been a fabrication, so I apologize. But what actually might have been the most anticipated part of our trip happened yesterday morning, when we were finally accompanied by our eight Israeli soldiers. Esti, Bar, Shir, Sara, Idan, Raz, Hagar, and Yuval, soldiers from all branches of the Israeli military, from all across Israel, joined our crew with just as much excitement to meet us as we did to meet them.

We headed up towards the Golan Heights near the Syrian border for an ice breaker with our new friends, and had a short hike to get all of us sleepyheads going for the day. And not that I’m envious of the plight of the characters from my beloved TV show Lost, but all these hikes through valleys, up mountains, and across creeks makes me feel right at home with Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and the rest of the gang. But no smoke monster for us.  This Israel, not “the island.”

After the hike, we made our way to a kibbutz on the Lebanese border and listened to Arie-an American-born Israeli citizen of 50 years-talk about his experiences in the Israeli army, on the kibbutz, and his feelings on the many political and religious conflicts Israel has endured-and is still enduring. Arie was nothing if not incredibly passionate and earnest in his beliefs. I would be lying though if I said his speech wasn’t divisive. After having chatted with one of our soldiers, Shir-someone who has certainly been closer to the action, and has a deeper understanding of it than me-described Arie as a “radical,” though she undoubtedly agreed with many of the basic Zionist ideals Arie conveyed, as did the rest of us.

We also received a treat from Ronen, as he shared with us two stories from his 12-day mission into Lebanon during the Second Lebanese War in 2006. We knew of “Ronen the Tour Guide,” but here we got insight into “Ronen the Soldier,” and “Ronen the Family Man.” He stressed how different it is to be a soldier returning to a family, rather than to a solitary life. And after his 12-day tour in 2006, he returned home to his wife and newborn daughter.

Coming down from the mountaintop kibbutz, we stopped for lunch in a mall. I figured to keep an alternating schedule of shwarma and falafel, so I opted for falafel at this meal. Probably not the best falafel I’ve had, as some of the soldiers were describing it as “mall food.” It seemed to make sense. It was the Panda Express of falafel, I suppose. However, I heeded my parents’ suggestion and had my first dabbling in Aroma via an iced cappuccino, which was a cool, soothing pick me up to carry me over through the rest of the day.

We travelled a few more minutes after lunch to the Jordan River for a late afternoon raft ride. We sailed down the river amongst each other, some locals, and another birthright group from the University of Maryland. It was more of a lazy river than a rapids ride, but fun all the same. We also got a little tongue tied when we had some Jordans pushing Jordans into the Jordan, but I’m pretty sure we got it all
ironed out.

Though, the three hour bus ride to Tel Aviv in a damp t-shirt and air conditioning wasn’t the most pleasant trip in the world.

Upon arriving in Tel Aviv-or a few minutes outside of Tel Aviv, rather-we quickly had dinner, put our hot pants on, and the whole group headed to a bar/club in Tel Aviv to drink a little drink, dance a little dance, and have a good night out. It was a fun time, but the highlight for me didn’t come until the trip back to the hotel, where we saw Ethan fall victim to some false idol worship, anointing Rabbi Levi the messiah. Belligerent? Maybe. Loyal? Undoubtedly.

The writing of this post was scattered throughout today (Monday), as I’ve been writing these on the bus and our rides today have only been short trips throughout Tel Aviv. A full recap of today should be up eventually, but you’ve gotta give me time to enjoy my time in Israel before I write about it (not that I’m bitter or anything).

The heart of the trip is just around the corner. We head to Jerusalem tonight, and while our crew of lazybones and sleepyheads are itching for the pace of this trip to slow down, I’m not counting on it.



Banyas 01 

Banyas 02 

Banyas 03
Hike at the Banias river 

Misgav 01 

Misgav 02 

Misgav group 
At Kibutz Misgav Am

Night out tel Aviv 01 

Night out tel aviv 02 
On the way to the Night Out!

Night out TA 03 

Night Out TA 04 

Night Out TA 05 
Night out in Tel Aviv!  

Comments on: Day 4: Finishing up in north country with a new cast of characters
There are no comments.