Saturday, September 12, 2009

Trip in the area

We went on our first tiyul a few days ago; just in the area, very close to the Mechina.
It was a 2-day "tiyul nodded" which means we carried everything on our backs. (Luckily, my Deuter backpack is SUPER comfortable!)

One of the coolest things about the tiyul was that we simply walked out of the Metzudah; we didn't take a bus or something to the beginning of the tiyul. We simply walked out of the gates, backpacks on our backs, walked on the street for a little bit, and then picked up a path somewhere. The first thing we saw was a wine-makery (I'm not sure if that's what it was called--basically some stone-lined stones in the ground where they would crush grapes and then let the juice run through, pick out the seeds and pell, etc.) from the time when the Byzantines were here. (I'm putting a picture).

We stayed the night at a place called Givat Tom v'Tomi, which is a memorial for the soldiers who died in a helicopter disaster in 1993 (or 1997?) One of the guys from a nearby Kibbutz took us around and explained about the place, and then we stayed there. There were fresh Sabra fruits (we cut one open, it was delicious) and also fresh pomegranites (which Alon opened with his hands) that were also absolutely delicious.

Much of the time that we were walking from place to place we teased the Israelis about specific words in English that are hard for them to say (among them: girl, world, squirrel--basically anything with an "r" and an "l" next to each other--Massachusetts) but all in fun. Because they get to tease us all the time about our accents....

Our "evening program" of sorts (that's the easiest way to describe it, since there's a lot of camp people reading this) was lots of team-building/trust games. We built pyramids of 20+ people (quite a feat), we did that one where you stand (tightly) in a circle and then sit on the lap of the person behind you, we did one where you hold ones with the people on either side and then squat and stand--then with the people one away, then two away..., we did the one where two lines face each other, hold hands with the person across from them, someone dives on, and you "pass" him by thrusting your arms in the air. We did it with our madrich who announced that he weighs 110 kilos (>220 lbs).

We slept the night literally under the stars--us, our camping matress pads, our sleeping bags, and the stars. No beds, no tents, no roofs, no nothing. It was amazing.

The Negev is basically where Israel tests its military planes and stuff, and I guess the night we were out they were testing stuff, because we kept seeing (and hearing) planes overheard. It was kind of weird to know that there were so many military planes, and that none of them were passenger planes.

In the morning we walked to Kibbutz Negba, and then walked back to the Metzuda completely pooped and ready to fall asleep--but we had to clean the area till it was sparkling because that night there was a Memorial Ceremony at the Givati museum (which is literally attached to the metzuda) and Rav Aloof Gabi Eshkenazi (the head of the Israeli military) was coming. So we cleaned and mopped and swept and organized... and like I already commented in an earlier post I think, mopping here is significantly easier here! We had a great time, sliding on the floors, dancing and all.

The Memorial Ceremony was very beautiful, but I think what was actually the most meaningful was that I understood almost everything said in the speeches. There were two chayalot (women soldiers) who sang Shir La'ma'alot absolutely beautifully. I got some of it on video.


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  2. sounds like a great trip. True, what you and Emily both said about cleaning in Israel.

  3. Tom vTom. 1997. Tom Kitain was one of the soldiers killed in the helicopter crash in Lebanon. He grew up in Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salam and I think was about 12 or 13 when I was a volunteer there; before moving there his family lived on a kibbutz in the Negev.