Monday, January 9, 2012

We're Here!

In what already seems like forever ago, but what was really just at 7 am this morning, the 39 of us entered the airport at Tel Aviv and were greeted by our seven Israeli solders and tour guide. We formed a massive circle in the corner of the airport and joined arms while chanting “Arhim! Arhim! Simrha! Simrha!”(an Israeli method of celebrating the arrival of comrades. After being offered a series of delicious Israeli chocolates, we boarded the nearby bus and made our way to Kibbutz Afiz, our lodge for the first two days.

            Once we had settled in and had our lunch, we headed out on the first of our many adventures of the trio: a hike in the Banias preserve, where we got to explore giant caves, spot out massive orange trees, and walk through 2,000 year-old tunnels and ruins left behind by the Ancient Romans. Ariel, our tour guide, commented on the significance of Israel as the area of land bridging Africa and Eurasia, which has made it a fiercely contested area ever since the age of Ancient Greek and Roman conquerors.

            It was already growing dark by the time we made it to the lookout over the city of Gadot in the mid-afternoon. Ariel warned us of the mines planted in the surrounding fields by rival Syrians, who had attacked the town during the Six Day War of 1967. One of our group members, Chloe, then read us a poem describing the relief and triumph that the townspeople of Gadot had felt after the violence of the war was finally brought to an end. It was a fitting conclusion to a very moving summary of the dark and bloody history behind the town that we were viewing from afar.

            Our group stopped by the town of Katzrin for some delicious Israeli pizza, pastries and falafel pita sandwiches, while summoning our remaining energy to chat with our Israeli counterparts. We made it back to Kibbutz no longer hungry for food— but certainly hungry for what more is to come during the next nine days of our stay in Israel! It’s safe to say that our trip has gotten off to a more than promising beginning.

- Josh Weiner AS ‘14

Stay tuned for pictures from our first few days. We will try to update our blog over the next few days. 

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