May 16-22

Wow it’s been a while since I posted last.

I will now tell you about our fun time in Eilat.

After the hike.

Last Wednesday we woke up early for an early bus ride. We began our day Kibbutz Revivim – where former Prime Minister David Ben Gurion once lived. We learned about Ben Gurion’s love for the Negev and kibbutz life and spoke about Israel and Zionism. We discussed Ben Gurion’s philosophy on Zionism – the only way to be a true Zionist is to move to Israel and take matters into your own hands; you can be an Israel supporter, as most of us are, but true Zionists, accordion to Ben Gurion, must make aliyah. After our discussion we visited Ben Gurion’s grave and there we spoke about what heroes that we’ve learned about this trip have made the biggest impression on us.

A sign next to Ben Gurion's house. Ben Gurion's gravesite.

We continued our day with a hike through a beautiful canyon. The view was breathtaking, and the hike a lot of fun – we had to climb small stairs and even ladders to get to the top. It was exhausting but worth it.

Ahh! At the top of the canyon.

Next we made our way to a Bedouin tent where we would ride camels and spend the night. We split into partners and were led to our camels–Ofir and I named our Furious; he had anger issues and a few times tried to eat Max. Noah was slobbered on, and more than a few of us were nearly peed or pooped on. My partner was Ofir, and during the ride we sand Disney songs–me in English, him in Hebrew. The translations are amazing for the songs, actually. Overall camels are smelly, fun to be sitting on when they get up or sit down, and a big pain if you’re of the male gender. That night we ate an amazing chicken and rice dinner sitting on carpets surrounding giant trays of food. Dinner was fantastic, and afterward we sat and learned about the Bedouin lifestyle over coffee, tea, and baklava. The Bedouins are Israeli citizens and join the army. The Bedouin we spoke to was a tracker by trade, had two wives, a son in the army, and also ran the camp at which we stayed. After our chat we had free time; most of us stayed up late, gazed at stars, and spoke to some very…happy…Birthright kids, one of which angrily adorned me with the nickname “Casper.” Hey, just because I don’t like to look line a tan peasant doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings! Anyway, after an interesting night’s sleep it was early to rise and onto a Jeep ride!

Amanda and Micah on Ahmed! On the camel caravan.

We got into Jeeps and went for a nice ride around a huge crater. This crater, unlike those, say, on the Moon, was formed by water over millions of years. You could see on the crater sides all the different colors of sediment. Although we didn’t go too fast and the ride was a little bumpy, it was pretty fun–but nothing compared to repelling of the side of a cliff, which we did next. We each got a turn to go (some of us twice), and we all slowly descended off the top of the crater. The decent wasn’t that long; you started at the top, yes, but landed on a ledge not too far down. We were strapped in pretty tight, but for me at least it was still scary and exhilarating.

In the Jeep! )

On the way to the kibbutz we went for a short hike through some really cool rock formations. We shot a few pictures and enjoyed the fun hike and headed once again to the bus. In the middle of our ride this time we stopped in the middle of nowhere. Yossi told us to get up and bring your water and hat. We walked through the desert for about 30 minutes until we finally reached our destination; a sand dune! After an extremely difficult climb up the mountain of sand some of us rolled or slid down. It was so much fun I decided to go twice! My pockets and shoes had mini dunes inside after we were done, and my mouth was completely filled with sand. The dune even decided to take a hostage that day…it swallowed up poor Micah’s flipflop never to return it again despite our long rescue effort. Oh well.

On the hike. On the hike, also.

After our dune adventure tiredly got on the bus and went to Kibbutz Yahel, a Reform kibbutz where we would be stayed the next few days. We napped, showered, and relaxed until bed time. Ahh, television.

The next morning we got up fairly late and went off to the city of Eilat. Our first stop was the Eilat stone factory where they sell lots of stone jewelery. After the factory we all got free gifts (a cute little Eilat stone ready to be put on a necklace) and then made our way to the tayelet, or promenade. We walked around and looked at all the stalls there on the beach; many of us shopped, others sunbathed, and most people tried to find refuge from the heat in the mall at one point or another. I even got myself a henna tattoo of a certain friendly ghost! At about three we left the beach to go back to the kibbutz for a nice, quiet shabbat.

Casper, the friendly ghost.

The next day was filled with swimming and relaxing on Kibbutz Yahel. After shabbos was over we again went back to the tayelet, which seems completely different in the night time. This time everyone shopped and walked around, and finally, late at night, everyone exhaustedly piled onto to the bus to get back and sleep.

The next morning was earlier than usual. We had a 5:45am wakeup so we could begin our hike early. This time we were hiking up a mountain, where, at the top, you could see four countries; Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi-Arabia. The hike was difficult at times, but overall fun. It’s nice to be getting exercise again…I’d never thought I’d miss hiking this much! After our hike we went…SNORKELING. I love snorkeling. It was a pretty short snorkel session, but pretty good too. We poked jellyfish, swam into schools, and even watched some tuna-like fish attack a reef right under us! The fish were gorgeous; I could have spent all day there.

After a long hike.  Woo, tired. Group photo on the mountain!

After snorkeling and hiking we headed back to Muss…but not before stopping at ANOTHER MALL. This mall, though, has the nicest bathrooms in the world, no joke. We ate and finally got back to Muss, where we relaxed for the rest of the day.

This morning was time for a tikun olam project. We went to a nearby strawberry field to pick berries. Whatever we picked would be donated to families in need. We ended up picking 150 containers of strawberries, even with the amount we ate while doing so. The berries were amazing and it was a nice way to begin our Shavuot holiday.

Brandon picking berries. Berry picking.

For the holiday most of us are staying on campus, and very soon is a nice dinner planned for us.

I shall blog again this weekend most likely. We’re reaching the final stretch here, folks; just 7 days left.

-Jamie

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3 Responses to “May 16-22”

  1. Rachael Says:

    Casper your too cool!

  2. Grandpaverby Says:

    Jamie it has been awhile since I was able to to sign on to your website. we are back on the east coast now and my computer was sent in the car.
    I enjoyed this whole experience with you. It was interesting for me as I was at many of the places you wrote about. Time has changed it though.
    Love you Nanny and Grandpa

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    May 16-22 | Weber Israel Experience ’07

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