Thursday, March 21, 2013

so this one time, in 2

When the alarm went off at 7am, I thought for sure I was still at home and about to get up for work. Who wakes up this early on vacation? The correct answer would be that I do, when I'm on a trip where we set out to accomplish roughly 13938571 things in the span of 30 hours (there are 30 hours in a day, right?).

After breakfast, we drove to the site of our next "walk".

"See those fences surrounding us? Can you read the signs?" asked Iftach, once it was too late to turn back.

Danger! Mines!

The number of hours we had known him had increased to about 30 at this point, so clearly we knew we were in good hands. Either that, or we had all resigned ourselves to the fact that we might not make it home. Or we were still partially asleep, jet lag finally catching up, and were rendered temporarily illiterate. Take your pick.

Once we had been assured that we would most likely not blow up, we set off on our "walk", which amazingly felt like a walk for the first 10 minutes or so, if you don't count the stream we had to cross. It really would have been quite easy, we were told, had we been there before the rain flooded the stream, taking down all branches that may have been some assistance to us.

After crossing the stream, we stopped in a clearing.

To play an ice breaker game.

In the middle of a land mine field.

This was the second time out of 394857132 we were told to hold hands, but this time it was for a human knot exercise. My team was...special. We somehow managed to form two linked circles, meaning there was no possible way to win. After what felt like an hour, we gave up, but not before our fearless leaders Sarah and Ariana (and of course Iftach) had gotten plenty of "butts in faces!" pictures. Lucky for us, they caught another team cheating first, so we were spared the sheer horror of performing a dance in front of everyone else.

Photo from Whitney, one of the awesome photographers on the trip. I was probably still tangled.

And then, we "walked" some more.

Three streams, a bat cave, and a stairway to heaven the parking lot later, we were back on the bus, headed for OMGSHWARMAFALAFELOMNOMNOM. We were just a little excited.

In transit, we learned the only two words in the Hebrew language that will matter the entire rest of the trip: sababah (it's all good / cool) and balagan (mess / hot mess). 

Our day out and about ended early due to Shabbat (wait, what day is it?), so we were back on the kibbutz mid-afternoon to give us an opportunity to shower (!!) and/or sleep (!!!!!!) and/or prepare for Shabbat services even though we (in the Victorian sense) had been to fewer than five Shabbat services in the history of ever. It was definitely a fun learning experience though, and now I can say I helped lead a Shabbat service in Israel! I feel so special.

After evening programming, we were perfect little angels and went to bed right away, obviously. Isn't that what you would do if you were told you were allowed to sleep in until 10:30 the next morning?

...stay tuned for day 3!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

so this one time, in 1

"Everyone make sure you're in comfortable clothes and good shoes, we're going to go for a nice walk straight away!" Said our tour guide Iftach, who we had met about 5 minutes earlier and were trusting with our lives.

Two hours later, we were scaling down a mountain.

Welcome to Israel! Where the rare use of the word "hike" should instill a certain level of fear.

Two weeks later, I learned that the route we took down the mountain is typically one which people take up the mountain, and it was, in fact, a lot harder to descend than ascend.

Lesson 1: Don't tell the Taglit kids what they're getting into, otherwise they may chicken out. If the bus drops them off at the top of the mountain and drives away before they realize what's happened, there's really no other option.

Once we made it safely down Mt. Arbel, we were told to gather in a circle and hold hands with our new best friends who we had just met 24 hours earlier, 12 of which were spent sleeping on the flight over. This was probably the least awkward of all the ice breakers. It also proved quite a challenge. Who knew a bunch of 20-somethings would have so much trouble forming a circle? Little did we know, we would have plenty of opportunities to hold hands in circles over the course of the trip.

"Now, turn 90 degrees to your right, and put your hands on the shoulders of the person in front of you."

Are we going to dance in a conga line? 

"Begin moving your thumbs in a circular motion..."

Are we really massaging the shoulders of complete strangers? *giggle giggle* this is so awkward and hilarious!

"Now tap the person's shoulder in front of you, and say to them "You are a good person."

Well, I'm not really sure about that, I barely know these people

Disregard the fact that the first person I had to tell this to was my brother. I'd rather tell that to a complete stranger! (Just kidding, Jarrad. You are a really good person)

Once we had all rather unsuccessfully told the people in front of us they were good people (seriously, how did we never figure out that 50 people leaning forward and talking at the same time would make it rather difficult to effectively talk to each other?), we were told to turn 180* and do the same thing to the person who up until that point had been behind us. After our kumbaya session, we headed to the kibbutz where we would be spending our first three nights where we learned quickly that cats in Israel are akin to squirrels in the US; they're cute to look at, but they're wild and may or may not carry diseases. Everyone, put down the cats you just picked up.

Rest time (something I learned not to take for granted) was spent bonding with my first two roommates (they moved us around at each new location) over how sore our legs were and how good it felt to lay on our beds with our legs resting against the wall. I thought about how I had lucked out with the rooming assignments, given that I had to spend the next 3 nights with the same people, like 'em or not.

After dinner we learned that it's very windy in Israel. As each person on the trip had maybe 3 friends, including their roommates who they had really just met (has it really only been 12 hours?), we were forced to play several rounds of never-have-I-ever-musical-chairs (aka "the wind blows") in order to increase the chances we would end up sitting next to someone we didn't know.

At this point, it was probably time for count off number 1 of so-many-I-lost-count. Everyone remember your numbers! ...or forget them, because remembering one number for 10 days is really, super hard.

After the evening's activities, everyone gathered on the porch of the common area of the kibbutz to socialize...with everyone back home because this was the first wifi we had been graced with since we left New York. And then we went to sleep, because we had effectively been awake for two days...

Stay tuned for day 2!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

words can't even describe...

They say a picture is worth a thousand words (ew, cliché), and since I'm still trying to decide how I want to recall my trip for the masses, I'll leave you with a few pictures first to whet you appetites. (For those of you confused as all get out right now, I just got back from 3 weeks in Israel)