Monday, July 9, 2012

7/7/12: Sweet Escape: My Trip To the North (Day 2)

Being Outdoorsy

Day 2 began with a very early wake up call. Luckily I had slept very well the night before because at 7am I was up and getting ready to start the day. 7:30am was the call time for breakfast at the kibbutz, which, thankfully, was much better than dinner the night before (Israelis definitely know how to do breakfast). Since I am never really hungry that early in the morning I ate a bowl of yogurt and granola to give me strength for our first activity; a 3 hour hike at Keziv Stream Nature Reserve. When we arrived at our destination around 9am it was quite lovely outside. It was not too hot, there was a nice breeze, and much of the hike down to the stream was shaded. As I was walking downhill, however, I couldn't help but think how miserable the walk back up the mountain would be at the end of the hike! However, for as un-athletic as I am, I was at the front of the group the entire hike (both downhill and up). 

View of the nature reserve 

The group getting ready for the trek 

Halfway down the mountain and I was doing just fine! 

Gorgeous view from mid mountain 
After another half and hour or so we had reached the water. Now, as hot as it was, I did not think to bring a change of shoes and or clothes, so when I was told there were trails that had to go through the water, I was not so happy. I love the water but not when I think it is optional and don't bring changes of clothing, and, let's be honest, there is no worse feeling than spending the day in wet socks and shoes. However, there was little way around it so I told myself: "When in Rome". When we had reached the bottom of the mountain we spend quite a bit of time expiring the area, walking through various streams, and heading back to trails that would lead back up the mountain. By then it had already been almost 3 hours, so the promise of a maximum 3 hour hike didn't quite turn out to be so correct. By this time the temperature was quite hot and I wasn't so upset about the water situation anymore (though I still think wet socks and shoes is one of the most awful feelings in the world). 

Morgan at the stream 

Trying to avoid getting in the water 

Our fearless leader, Chaya 

In the end I gritted my teeth and got in 

After some more wandering around on flat-ish ground it was time for the miserable trek uphill. Though I thought this part would kill me seeing as it was not shaded and at one of the hottest points of the day, I remained in the front of the group, told myself over and over that it was almost over, and made it to the top feeling very accomplished. There was a point when the 4 people who were in front of me sped up towards the top, and everyone behind sat down in the shade to take a break, but since I wanted to take as little time as possible to get to the top, I went ahead alone, following the markings on the trail, and had a wonderful 15 minutes or so of solitary hiking completely to myself. It was actually quite enjoyable once you got past the misery of the act itself. When I had reached the top my socks were wet, my shoes were filthy, I was drenched in sweat, a spider attacked my neck when I was sitting, but I made it to the top and that is the most important thing. Luckily one of my classmates had an extra pair of sandals and I had brought an extra tank top and my deodorant on the bus (it was good I remembered that). After I had changed and was comfortable again, we were off to a little Arab town, Rehaniya, in the middle of nowhere to eat some lunch. It was Shabbat so nothing was open in any Jewish area. 

It was my roommate Morgan who suggested we stop in this town and there is one very specific reason I am eternally grateful to him. When we arrived at the family owned restaurant, a restaurant owned by Muslims from the Caucasus (Georgia I think) who looked Russian but spoke fluent Arabic (quite a site if you ask me), we all placed our orders, were given tons of appetizers, and then I saw possibly the most beautiful man I have seen since arriving in Israel (hence why I am grateful Mo suggested this place). This young man was the dictionary definition of my type; Muscular build, dark hair, bright blue eyes, and a beautiful face. It should surprise no one that I was very happy he was making my food because I don't eat tomatoes so naturally I had to tell the chef to leave them off of my meal. It was a wonderful few seconds followed by quite a bit of eye contact after. I was sitting right across from the food making station so it was perfect.

I just had to sneak a picture for the blog! 

When lunch was over, and though I looked completely revolting due to the hike we just finished, I told myself that I would ask to take a picture with my beautiful, lunch eye candy. Why not? I told myself. I was most likely never going to see him again so I figured I might as well capture a memory. I suddenly felt like I was channelling my fearless grandmother because it seemed like this would be something she would do! He seemed very flattered and I got a good picture of him out of it! Plus I figured after an hour of exchanging glances I might as well have something to show for it :-) 

The picture hardly does his beauty justice! 

When lunch was finished, after a bit of prolonging on the end of the female trip participants for obvious reasons (see above picture), it was time to head up to the Golan heights to see neighboring Syria. When we arrived I was immediately struck with a sense of familiarity that I couldn't quite put my finger on until I was confronted with one of the ugliest statues I have ever seen. Immediately I remembered coming to this exact spot some 4 years ago when I came to Israel for the first time on Taglit, Birthright. It was a very nostalgic moment and wonderful memories of my first trip to Israel came flooding back to me. 

My former boyfriend at the same spot 4 years ago during Birthright 

The Golan 

4 years later and I find myself here again! 

When we reached the lookout point we could see into the depths of Syria, and I couldn't help but but think how unfortunate the situation in the Middle East is. I have heard Damascus is among one of the most beautiful places in the Middle East, and though I was closer to Damascus than Jerusalem, there was no way, and probably will be little chance in the future of me every seeing a place like it. Even if the situation within the region calms down, the fact that I am Jewish, and now Israeli, make travel to places like Damascus and Beirut a bit tricky at the moment. Such a shame, but it was great being able to at least look into the neighboring country from afar; I'll take what I can get! 

Hello Syria. Forgive the black dot in my pictures... My camera is not working so well

Looking into Syria. We were so close 

By the time all of the explanations were given on the history of the situation in the Golan, it was getting to be time to head back to the Kibbutz. We were all exhausted from a very long day and very ready to get home to shower! I don't think I have ever needed a shower so badly in my entire life. On the bus ride back I utilized the long drive to do some reading and take a quick nap, and when we finally arrived back at the kibbutz it was straight into the shower for me. After I was all clean and refreshed I went down for a quick dinner and then returned to the room to get a good night sleep. I was completely exhausted and very ready to get to bed. The next day was our last and I didn't want to spend it tired and cranky! 

Stay tuned for day 3 :-) 

Until next time,
Jordana Simone

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