Published: December 11th 2007December 11th 2007
Hello!! I hope everyone is doing well. I am currently working on my final papers, presentations, and studying for exams. I just wanted to quickly and briefly update my blog and show everyone some pictures from the north of ISRAEL. I was fortunate to spend Shabbath on the 9th and 10th of November with four of my friends (Arik, Vali, Aviad, and Ben) in the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights (רמת הגולן) (هضبة الجولان) is in the northern part of Israel and was originally part of Syria pre-1967; this area of land borders Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.
Ben (from Boston) and I traveled with three Israelis by train, van, bus, and car to the north; departing from Beer Sheva. We were even able to visit Arik's home in Kfal Vradim (village of roses) as well as his grandparents who live in a Russian, retirement community (Karmiel). After traveling and shopping for food, we visited Kibbutz Dgania near Vali's army base and the boys went swimming at night (in the rain) in a small part of the Jordan River. From the kibbutz we traveled farther north to Aliad where we rented a box-cart like place to spend the
night. Arik, Vali, and Aviad (all Israeli and all soldiers) spent hours cooking while we played the guitar and sang songs in Hebrew. (Of course we also had a drum!!) We made Turkish coffee over the fire and ate grilled garlic in the woods. Vali cooked "porker;" a stew comprised of numerous vegetables with coke-a-cola as the broth. It was interesting : ). I spent most of the time by the camp fire because it is absolutely freezing in the north. (As you can see in my pictures I am wearing numerous layers at night.)
The next morning we spent a fair amount of time at the camp site because the view was absolutely wonderful and the weather was beautiful. Ben and I made everyone omelets for breakfast before we cleaned up our camp site and headed out for the day. The boys and I spent the remainder of the day on the famous Gilabon hike. It was absolutely gorgeous and we were able to make it to see one of the largest waterfalls in Israel. There were families everywhere in the north having picnic and spending Shabbath hiking which is always nice to see.
The hike was
extremely intensive but I was happy that I was able to keep up with the boys who, besides Ben and Arik, spend 6 days a week training in the Army. I was exhausted afterwards but it was nice to prove to Vali that American girls are able to keep up with the boys on the hike and while rock climbing. Of course, I had cuts on my arms from the trees and bruises on my legs for weeks thereafter from the rocks but I loved the hike. We were even able to go swimming in a creek area near the waterfalls. The water was ABSOLUTELY FREEZING and my legs went numb. We had to climb up the side of this rock structure that I was not tall enough to reach so Ben had to pull me by my arm while my entire body scrapped against the rocks (hence all the bruises), but fortunately my legs were numb from the water so it wasn't all too painful.
The only downside of the hike was when we had to cross a portion of the creek where the rocks were extremely slippery due to the strength of the current and height of
the water. There was a large group of Israelis (maybe 25/30) sitting near the stream who was shouting at Ben and I in Hebrew and we were unable to understand everything they were saying. I told them I was from America and they started shouting things at Ben and I as they assumed we were both Christian. (Ben is Jewish by the way). The boys crossed much faster than I did and I ended up getting left behind as these people were making jokes about Jesus walking on the water at the creek and making other uncomfortable gestures. Unfortunately, I was carrying my camera and unable to balance myself while attempting to cross the creek on the rocks while passing in between this large group of people talking about me, and I slipped and fell in the water. Not the most pleasant experience ever but I was unable to make it across and catch up with the boys eventually.
After sunset we headed back to the car and left for Karmiel, where Arik's grandparents live. We were all able to shower and change before Ben and I headed back to Beer Sheva. Arik's grandmother is originally from Russia and
this was the view RIGHT outside the "boxcar" that we slept in
then lived in Ukraine; she has experienced and lived through so much being a Jew who escaped from the Soviet Union. She no longer has any family left besides her husband, children, and grandchildren. (After escaping she lost all contact and knowledge of her brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, etc.) Arik's grandmother thoroughly enjoyed our company as she was once an English teachers and misses having the opportunity to practice English. Although she seemed rather troubled and burdened, she was very kind and welcoming and has asked me to come back and visit if I have time before I leave.
After leaving his grandmother's, Arik attempted to find a way for Ben and I to get back to Beer Sheva as we missed the last bus leaving from Karmiel. The trains were not running and we couldn't find a taxi and it was sort of a fiasco but we fortunately made it back in time to finish our homework, get a little rest, and make it to Arabic class the next morning. Anyways, I hope you all enjoy the pictures and hopefully I will finally write my blog about all my visits to Jerusalem at some point. Take Care!~
There are more photos below