Thursday, April 19, 2012

On Family and Backpacks

This post is definitely overdue. Caroline, for those of you who don't know my lineage, is a first cousin of mine and Ari's (daughter of Bradley Stoner). She was born about a month after Ari and three months after me, but for some reason is in the grade beneath us, meaning she's still in high school. So for her spring break, her parents (thanks again to them) decided to let her come visit us. So visit she did.
Wadi Arugot
To make the most of her time here, we got some scheduled time off the program (very fun). We sent out a ton of couchsurfing requests, all of which were turned down except one. Our positive's name was (is?) Adam Ziv, a dude who lives a somewhat jaded life on Kibbutz Sasa. We were to stay there Wednesday night.

We began our journey Tuesday evening, leaving Tel Aviv northwards via bus to Haifa, and from there catching a bus up to the top of Carmel Mountain (the mountain Haifa creeps up) where we met up with some friends on another program and camped out. That night was chilled, we sat around a bonfire, talked, hung out, did nothing, and (I) slept well.

Campsite in Haifa
Wednesday morning we set out to explore the Bahá'í Terraces, a holy place to the Bahá'í Faith and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's one of the most beautifully landscaped gardens in the world. Shit's crazy. Unfortunately, the Bahá'í were have a holy day and as such, the gardens were closed. Bummer. So we walked around Haifa a bit and made our way to the eastern central bus station (Haifa has two central bus stations. Explain that to me) and caught our bus to Kibbutz Sasa.

On the bus, I emptied my pockets for comfort reasons and decided it would be a great idea to leave my possessions on the bus (sort of a token of offering, if you may). The items included my cell phone, my wallet, my camera, my headlamp, and a lollipop. Thank god there are good people in the world, and the soldier sitting opposite us found my gear and was able to coordinate with one of my friends to get my possessions back to me. Soooo yeah, I messed up.

Anyways, we got off the bus and met our host, Adam, and he showed us to our apartment. Basically his friend was away doing something for a significant amount of time, so we had a place to ourselves, which was cool.
Relaxin' all cool
Thursday we set out on a hike along Shvil Israel. Adam drove us up to a trailhead maybe 8 miles away from the kibbutz at around 10 a.m. and we spent the rest of the day walking towards Sasa. The trail was incredible. We started the hike amidst luscious greenery set in a uncivilized valley in the Upper Galilee. The trail followed this creek for the majority of our hike, which meant we had to cross it numerous times. My water shoes came in handy, but as the only person with water shoes, I had to ford the others across via piggy-backing.
Trippy copper deposits
As we progressed through the countryside, the scenery changed a bit from fairy-like to expansive, rolling hillside, to a dried riverbed with a copper sheen, to a dense, jungle-like biome. The hike was a few hours of bliss, until we ran out of water and got a little concerned, until we reached the kibbutz. That night just bummed around a bit and watched the sunset from an old bunker on the outskirts of the kibbutz.

Friday morning we caught a bus to Jerusalem, and I left Ari and Caroline to return to Tel Aviv to recover my gear. During the time I was gone, they walked through the old city a bit and bought food at the shuk. I made my way back to Jerusalem, to the old city, and tried to meet up with them at the Western Wall. Unfortunately, I had my pack with me, which had a container of butane. So there was a stern "wtf" from the security guard and told me to peace. After a good deal of thinking, I ditched the butane behind a garbage can and went to the other entrance, where the security guard there identified me (apparently the two security guards are in cahoots) and pulled me aside, thoroughly searching my pack, finding nothing illegal. So I got in and we waited and waited for an hour there, trying to find this one man to hook us up with a dinner with some Haredim. Finally, we found him, and he got us a dinner with a man named Avidan, a quaint Lubavitcher who was born in Berkeley, California. Besides two other guests, the three of us were the only ones not in his immediate family. Their apartment was tiny, maybe three rooms, which somehow was able to accommodate his five children. Anyway, the Shabbat meal was really nice, with some really good conversations, and none of the in-your-face Zionism I was expecting with the meal. I ended up friending him on Facebook, so maybe he'll see this post, who knows.

That night we crashed at the Aardvark apartments in Jerusalem. Saturday we walked all over Jerusalem. We saw the main attractions in the Old City, did some shopping, and had delicious Arab felafel. We caught a night bus to Ein Gedi and camped out on the beach that night.

Sunday we did Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea. Since I've already written about this place, I'm not going to do that again now, but I will say that I was just as fun as the first time I went.

And that was our backpacking adventure around Israel. I think Caroline got a pretty good sense of the country. I took a lot out of that trip. I guess I've gotten a bit isolated by living in Tel Aviv. It's weird how that works. It's such a big city with so many interesting people, and yet I find it's so much harder to find myself here. won't be disappointed.

Desperation Breeds - Andrew Bird

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful, interesting trip you all had! Glad that it was so rich and rewarding! (Other than losing your keys and stuff on the bus) -Uncle Brad