The sirens went off today that signaled my first Shabbat in Jerusalem just as I arrived home from a trip to the Negev Desert, and boy could I use the mandatory days of rest. The experience so far has been completely riveting and also exhausting.
As a reward for surviving the first week of hebrew and dance classes many of the international students here at Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School took a bus 2 hours south of Jerusalem to the Negev Dessert. Arriving Thursday night we took a night hike of the cold dessert lying down in the sand to look at the stars. I wish that I could post a picture of how beautifully the hills and cliffs silhouetted against the starlit night sky (I tried.) The isolation of the Negev Desert is stunning; I found so much peace in it, and also peace in embracing my sense of adventure.
We stayed the night at a hostel, my first hostel ever which was nothing like it is in horror films. I top bunked it and woke up bright and early for a morning hike. The scene completely changed from day to night, but it was no less beautiful. As a group we visited the grave of Ben Gurion, a great prime minister of Israel, and to my calves’ complaint and heart’s happiness climbed through the Negev cliffs. And of course… me and my roommates Kat & Giada did a little dancing along the way.
Everything in Israel is history. As I’ve been told here “no stone, is just a stone.” And that is so true. You see history in the just layers of the cliffs at Negev, it’s not just a feeling, it’s completely visual. We heard the stories of the same desert we were stepping on as described in the bible, as described throughout history. It makes you feel really small; however, it also makes you want to do important things with the glimpse of time you do get.
Moving to a new continent with a language that’s spoken differently than it’s written, and written differently than its read and having to figure out everything from where to get bedding, groceries, pots & pans, and toilet paper to public transportation has been at times overwhelmingly stressful. But Israel always makes up for that just as soon as I open my eyes enough to see where I am and what’s around me. Just as soon as I open my mouth the shout “גמל!” into the echo of the Desert.
All my best,
(ps) גמל (pronounced “gamal”) means Camel