Boker tov! Today we begin day 2 of the trip - I think. It’s actually kind of hard to tell, given the 16-hour day(ish)of traveling we had across the Atlantic, which was begun with, interrupted by, and concluded with innumerable ice-breaking games (We hit all the classics, including my personal favorite, the name + alliterative adjective game). But from what I’ve been told today is Wednesday.
We began the day yesterday with a hike around the Jilaboon. (There’s no telling how to spell most of these Hebrew words, I’ll just ballpark them phonetically.) This sweltering hike through the Jilaboon, an area of the Golan Heights carved with steep, rocky hills and cliffs, culminated with a swim in an amazing pool with an enormous waterfall and the most perfectly timed ice cream bar ever. (I have to give a special shout-out to our guide Yossi here for telling us to bring swimming attire, something one of the other buses wasn’t told about and therefore missed the opportunity to swim in the natural pool, which was absolutely incredible.)
Following the hike we went to a near-by town for lunch. The bus dropped us off near some solid-looking eating options, however the length of the lines inspired some culinary curiosity in myself, Sophie, and Lucy, and we went to explore the town for other venues. After a couple of misfires, we nervously settled into a restaurant which appeared to serve mainly hummus. In truth, we were looking for something more filling, but the dishes being eaten by the other customers looked so interesting we had to give it a try. We stumbled through ordering and eventually just pointed at another customer’s plates and signaled that we’d have the exact same thing. We watched as they hand-made everything right in front of us and served us an amazing dish of hummus and some unidentifiable yet delicious sides.
After lunch we headed to the top of a mountain overlooking the Syrian border. We accompanied the breath-taking view of Syria and the Golan Heights with discussion about the Six Days War and the history of the area. This conversation evolved over the next couple of hours into a discussion about regional geo-political relationships which was one of the most interesting discussions I’ve ever been a part of. We listened as the Israeli participants on our trip answered questions and described to us their feelings and ideas about the prospects for peace in the Golan Heights, and eventually the whole region. There’s no way I can do this conversation justice, but I was overwhelmingly impressed by the words of the Israeli people - people my age - about where they live, what they want for their country, and how they think they can get there.
We had some dinner and some hang-out time to follow, all of which was extremely entertaining, but I’ll finish up with some memories/shout outs from the trip so far. Some of these might be a little inside, but here goes:
-12 hours on a bus is enough for any person, which is why it’s not legal to go any longer.
-I locked my Israeli in the room. (Sorry Avi.)
-The fruit in Israel is awesome. Just ask Asa.
-There is such a thing as Cat AIDS.
-Erika wants to be mentioned at least once in this post.
-Lucy wants to be mentioned more than once in this post.
-Chris really likes the song “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus.
-No one on this trip knows who Billy Ray Cyrus is, which offends me as a Southerner.
-Ido really likes the song “Love Story” by Taylor Swift.`