I just got back from an adventure in a place of beauty, borders, and a slow bus driver named Boris. I am using “just” a bit loosely, since it’s been over a week since I got back, but I am still reeling. It was a virtually sleepless ten days in Israel. (Though I did get some naps in on the bus rides that took three times as long with bus driver Boris at the wheel.)
I went with trip organizer Shorashim, which was an awesome choice. The greatest benefits for me were having the wonderful guide Yossi, (pictured below), as well as Becky and Jacklyn. All were smart, compassionate, and organized.
One of the best things about Shorashim (which means “roots,” by the way), was that I became friends with a great group of Israeli soldiers. They were fully integrated part of our big 47-person group (which is not the case with other similar programs). I can’t imagine the trip without them.
One of the early hikes we did as a group culminated in a waterfall and swimming hole. I get to hike quite a bit out here in California, so the way to the waterfall was a pretty easy hike down for me, and with some slightly challenging moments where we crossed couple small streams. It was gorgeous. All of my environmental studies trip photographer habits came back.
It was as if I had dreamed it into existence—this exact spot! It was incredibly idyllic, I just had to smile at the sight of people climbing and jumping and swimming around so gleefully in this oasis. It was full of magic and relief from the heat even though we had not yet even experienced the “true” desert ecology of the south.
During the swim I scraped my knee, but I am proud of this battle scar. It is an early marker of the trip, for me. (Diving right in.)
I wouldn’t dare sum up my experience with one blog post or one chapter of a book. My experience was inextricably linked to the experiences of my group—the fun, the little bits of gossip, the drama, the trust-building. All of my peer’s experiences touched my own. Truly, though, this group of 47+ strangers had a ten-day moment in time where they became a unit. (Is this sounding cliche yet?) Seriously, though, we had our daily traditions (naa, na na na na … Milat HaYom!), our early morning wake ups (culminating in a 4am morning hike), and general evening debauchery. We formed as true a team attitude as I have ever experienced, first-hand.
Food and water were high priorities, since we were being taken through the country on a whirlwind tour, the pace was both invigorating and exhasting (on that slow Boris bus for hours of travel, but travelling for what felt like all day in a new landscape). I barely had a moment to digest the food, let alone the experiences or the sights.
For now, be sure to stay hydrated, i’ll write again soon.