Bus Rides and Hiking and Elections, Oh My!

It’s been about two weeks since my last post, and I can definitely save I’ve been busy. I went hiking in the Golan Heights, got lost trying to go to the shook and wandered around the Ba’hai Gardens by myself. I started an internship here and took an Arabic test. And I sat up until 5 a.m. watching the US presidential elcetions with a mixed group of Americans, Israelis and Germans. So, I’ll try not to write a book, but I’ve had a pretty good time so far.

The International School organized a hiking trip to the Golan Heights and the area around the Galilee for two weekends ago. The bus ride was very early and long, but the hikes were gorgeous. The first day we hiked around the Sea of Galilee, in the Amud Stream Nature Reserve. It was a demanding hike but the scenery and views were amazing.

We drove over to the Golan Heights area after, where we stayed in a field school. It’s similar to a hostel but has a shower in the room and supplies sheets and pillows. It’s sad to say, but the beds and pillows there were much more comfortable than the ones in our dorms. According to the madrichim, our social activities coordinators, the field schools are mostly for students traveling around the country. We had a big group cookout that night, with everyone helping to cut vegetables and prepare the food. After dinner, we roasted kosher stawberry marshmellows around the fire (and they were probably about as good as they sound…passable) and turned in. The next morning was the Golan Heights hike. The hike involved a lot of clambering over rocks, and I’m still surprised no one fell or rolled down the mountain. It was gorgeous, and we had perfect weather. The group took a break at a waterfall pool and we all jumped in to the absolutely freezing water.

Unfortunately, people in the group ran out of water and we had to go back early. We went to another site to take a short hike, and I had the brilliant idea to walk through a long, rocky stream with no shoes on. I almost started crying halfway across and will never EVER do that again. We drove back to school after and the exciting weekend was over. We had been without internet for two days, so the first thing I did back at the university was log onto twitter. After scrolling through tweets, I found a tweet and link from a few hours before from Rueters: Three Syria tanks enter demalitarized Golan. #Israel. Just when you forget you live in the Middle East, Syrian tanks drive into the area where you’re hiking. We were fine, but it served as a reminder of the instablility of the area.

Nothing else I’ve done quite measures up to the weekend hiking, but I have kept myself busy exploring the city. I tried to go to the shook one day and got off when I saw Russian writing (it’s a Russian market). As you can imagine, that didn’t work so well and I never found the shook. I did manage to find a place with amazing pita and chocolate rugelach though, so I left happy. I also started my internship at a biomedical device company in a building near the beach. I’ve been able to explore that area a little more, and now know that the 146 bus leaves every hour, not half hour. Lesson learned, and that explains a whole lot. Everyone there is very nice, and my supervisor is especially friendly. The other day she drove me most of the way home and invited me to come home with her for Shabat dinner one weekend. That would never have happened in the US, and it made me realize how different the culture is here.

Other than that, I decided to wander around the German Colony and the Ba’hai Gardens Sunday after a long week of rain keeping me inside. The German Colony is on Ben Gurion Ave in Haifa, leading straight up to the gardens. It has shops, lots of restaurants and sporadic placards, infoming visitors of the history of the area, when German settlers lived there. It’s a beautiful street and a very pleasant place to spend the afternoon. Afterwards, I walked around the gardens a bit. Due to all the rain, I couldn’t go up the famous steps but managed to go to the first platform. The view of the city was amazing from there, looking all the way down Ben Gurion and to the Haifa port.

Last but not least, the school held election night in the moadon, the common room by the dorms. The event started at 2:30 a.m. and went until the elections ended. I left and went to bed a couple hours later, but many people stayed and watched all night. I’m willing to bet I will never have such an interesting and unique election night experience again. Even at such a late hour, the room was full of people watching the news and listening to the presenter explaining the US election process. It wasn’t even all Americans; there were people from the university and from the International School, from countries ranging from Germany to Israel. It may have been a very late night, but it was not an experience I would have wanted to miss.

I’m in the process of planning a trip to Akko, a city next to us, and will be going to Ein Gedi with the school in a couple weeks. In between, I may try to sneak in visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Until my next adventure, i’ll be readiing for classes though and commuting to my internship.

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