Nadav's Blog Page
Well I’m home, and right now that’s more bad than good. Why? Because I’m missing so many people and things. Number one is the Hand in Hand kids. It feels like they’ve been my friends for years. It’s truly amazing how close you can grow to people in two weeks. And now I feel empty and lonesome without them. I miss the sights. Traveling around Israel in a tour bus with some great friends that have become like a 25 person family was an experience like no other. Everyone from MLC grew very close on the trip as well but I don’t know if that is going to last. It was great to come home and see everyone that I missed, but it might be a little while until I feel completely satisfied again. Well the trip ended two days ago so this is obviously my last blog, but I wanted to post it because this trip changed me and it was a shame for everyone to see it end so soon.
On Wednesday, we went on our final overnight excursion. This one was also to the Southern parts of Israel. We saw the amazing ruins of Masada, a palace built by King Herod that was later used by Jewish refugees escaping from the Romans. The story of Masada is very interesting and sort of scary. Masada is on top of a giant isolated cliff right by the Dead Sea. After that we went to Ein Ghetti which is a natural springs in the middle of the desert. The hike to the waterfall was very tiring but it was all worth when we got to dip in that refreshing cool water. The last thing we did before going back to our hostel was go to the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea. The water of the Dead Sea is so salty that when you get in for a swim your feet will pop up and your whole body will be floating completely above the water! Of course no life form could survive in water like this, thus the name the Dead Sea. The water contains many minerals that are very good for your skin. The mud from the beaches of the Dead Sea is also really good for your skin. Sadly we found no mud at the beach we went to.
On the second day of the trip we went to the Bedouin market. Bedouins are a type of people who are originally nomadic, meaning they move from place to place. A lot of them live in tents and do things like herd sheep or sew beautiful cloth accessories. The market had some very nice antique tents. Then we went to a Bedouin tent where a Bedouin woman talked to us about being Bedouin and how she started the first Bedouin feminist movement. It was very inspiring.
The last organized event of the trip was the goodbye party, seeing it was the second to last night we would be in Israel. This was a dance party that was DJ’d by an upperclassman from Hand in Hand. After Anne, Taylor, Tom, and I made some thank you speeches, the part got booming. We danced like there was no tomorrow. After the music was turned off things got very sad because as we said goodbye we realized the only sure time we would see the Hand in Hand students again was Saturday morning. No one wanted the trip to be over.
Today is the last day. So far I have had a very good time going with my host Ibrahim and his mother Rozan to Bethlahem. We went inside the huge cathedral and got to see the exact spot where they think Jesus was born. Afterwards we got a large lunch of hummus, pita, phalaphel, and vegetables. We had to wait a little while to get to the car because people were carrying out a Muslim prayer service in the street. It was very cool to see. Tonight we are having a barbecue.
Well this trip is pretty much over. A lot people know I wasn’t very excited for this delegation for a while and that I had a lot of negative things to say. But I regret all that very much because this trip has been one of the most fantastic and life changing experiences I have ever been a part of and probably ever will be. I am excited to come back and see my friends in Portland but I am going to miss these great two weeks very much. If you ever have the chance to travel abroad and do something like this I highly encourage to take advantage of the opportunity. I want everyone who reads this to know that the MLC to Israel delegation of 2011 was a success.
The one negative thing I have to say about this trip is how little time we actually have to spend with the Israeli kids. Today was the second and last day we got to go to school with them, and we didn’t even stay for the whole day! Instead we went back to the Old City and saw a bunch of stuff we already saw. Yes, the shopping time was very useful, but our time with the hosts is much more precious. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my friends from America too, but I will continue seeing them every day for the rest of the school year after I get back. This is possibly the last time I will see the Israelis in my life. The sights in Israel are indeed amazing but this is a delegation, not a vacation. The reason for this trip was to spend time with the children from Hand in Hand and learn their mission of peace, not to sight-see with our friends we’ve known for years. Tomorrow we leave for another overnight with just MLC-ers. We come back Thursday and have the goodbye party Thursday night. Friday is a free day and Saturday morning we get on our plane and leave. Last spring, the kids came to school with us the majority of the time and we had planned events. If this time it was more like that, this would be a more successful trip.
For the past two days I have been on a camping trip with all the MLC and Hand in Hand kids in what could accurately be called the middle of nowhere. Far out in the desert of Southern Israel, we took intense hikes and climbs and camped. The closest thing to a bathroom was the cleanest pile of dirt you could find far enough from the camp. We were with a tourguide group and they prepared our campsite and all our food and led the activites. The first thing we did was a very challenging hike where we climbed up and down jagged and slippery slopes. everyone needed to grab onto their friends hands quite a bit to get up without falling. The journey ended in repelling down a vertical rock cliff. We went back to the camp where our tents were set up and a meal was being prepared. We got as comfortable as possible and had dinner and recreation for the rest of the evening. There was a campfire, marshamllow roasting, and star-gazing as well. Then it was off to our tents for bed. I probably got around four hours of sleep.
Our guides woke us up at six o’clock and it was on to the next tiring day. We started off with some teamwork activities. First we had to balance our whole group on a big wood see-saw. Then we divided into smaller groups and competed against each other to get the fastest time at jumping on wooden squares of the numbers one through 35 in order. Lastly, we had to lead a pole with a metal coil on the bottom out of spiral by pulling ropes from the outside of the spiral. I was very impressed with my group in all of these challenges and I thought we did a really good job. We then went on an easier hike through a canyon and saw the ruins of an old fortress.
This was all very difficult, but I still enjoyed and I think it was a good experience for everyone. But I am happier than ever to be home with my host family, a shower, and toilets. As I am writing this it is only 7:30 PM, but I will probably fall asleep as soon as I turn the computer off.
On Monday morning we all met at the school to get on our bus and drive far up into the North of Israel for a three day trip. This excursion was fantastic. We were accompanied the whole time by a wonderful tourguide named Shiri. We started out on the first day with a hike on Gilboa Mountain. This hike was straight through a valley and was highlighted by excellent views. Then we got back on the bus and went to a beautiful natural springs where we could swim. I remembered this place from my trip to Israel in 2008. The last thing we did that day was walk around and shop in a nice town called Tiberias.
After a good night’s sleep in the lovely hostel where we were staying, we headed out for our second action packed day. We climbed high up into the Golan Heights for an amazing hike of sights that I never thought I would see in this part of the world. It was kind of spooky seeing the Syrian bunkers and mine fields that were built and set over 40 years ago. This hike was the best I have ever been on. We climbed up and down rocks and through streams and ended up by a giant waterfall. After this we went to a very high viewpoint where we could see very far in every direwction and right into Syria.
On the third and final day of the trip we went to the Ghetto Fighters Holocaust Museum. This was a very touching experience that made me think about my roots in Jewish history. We then visited a gorgeous town right on the ocean called Cesaria. In Cesaria’s old city there are ruins dating back to the time of King Herod. It is truly fantastic to be able to see and feel such ancient things that hold so much history. By this time, we were all exhausted and ready to head back to our host families in Jerusalem.
On the bus ride home, we learned of the bus bombing that had happened earlier that day. It was shocking news, but we handled it well. We knew we would be safe. At home, my host’s cousin Elias came over and I had a very good time meeting him.
Today we got to attend the Hand in Hand school, which was very fun. I got to see all of my friends who came to Portland last spring, even the ones who aren’t hosting. We made t-shirts, posters, and played soccer. I left the school early to go on a trip with my host family to the village Eilaboun where my host parents’ families live. I have had good night seeing the village and meeting Ibrahim’s friends from up here.
In Israel, spring is in full bloom and unfortunately so are my allergies. However my good friends Flounaise, Allegra, and Benedryl have kept me intact. Besides that, everything is still great. I woke up this morning and went to have breakfast with Mais and Eva at a very nice restaurant in the outlet mall. After we ate we met up with Quinn and Nizar and trekked around downtown looking for souvenirs and gifts. We came home and rested and later walked around the neighborhood with Adan and Alexa. Tonight we went bowling and, thanks to a broken scoring system, I won by a landslide. I am very happy that my jet lag is not as bad as I expected. This week’s camping trip should be great.
After two crazy sleepless days of travel, we finally arrived in Jerusalem. We spent the first night in a youth hostel in dowtown. This morning we went to the old city, one of the most amazing sights in the world. Just the fact that some of the buildings are 2000 years old puts me in absolute awe. We visited the Western Wall which is one of the most holy places in Judaism. Then we went to the Church of the Holy Seplecar, where Jesus was supposedly crucified. After getting back to the hostel and collecting our bags, we took a bus to the hand in Hand school to meet our hosts. There was so much excitement bubbling up inside me as we were getting off the bus. I hadn’t seen my Israeli friends in a whole year. I met up with my host, Ibrahim, and went back to his house and met his family. Later we met Bernadette, Rawan, Adan, Alexa, Jessica, and Rasha at the mall. It has been a very exciting and fantastic first few days here.