Sunday, January 23, 2011


January 23, 2011

This weekend we went on our last trip of the program to Eilat. It was longer than our other trips, three full days, and it was pretty awesome.

On Thursday we left early and drove to a kibbutz to hear from a friend of Tiffany’s about desalination and other ways that Israeli scientists are trying to save water. It was pretty scientific, and we’d heard a lot about the water issues from other people, so I wasn’t all that fascinated. I think the best solution is for there to be fewer people in the world and for those people not to live in place without resources. Geez, whose idea was it to have this many people live in a desert? Spoiler alert: people need water.

After that we went on a hike in the desert and we saw some incredible views, first from Ben-Gurion’s grave and then from the hike itself. The hike was long but good. The best part was that Moshe, the head of our program, was leading us. He was wearing a white veil thing over his head, so he looked like an old Bedouin woman. He also lost the trail a few times, and we all decided it was a bad idea to follow someone named Moshe, which is Hebrew for Moses, in the desert. Luckily we were lost for only a few minutes, not 40 years, so he did much better than his predecessor.

After the hike we returned to Kibbutz Ketura, the place we had our orientation week, which was really exciting. It was really strange to drive through that gate again and see everything we had gotten to know so well. It was quite a full circle thing, and I was glad to be able to be back there. Unfortunately, I came down with a cold, so after dinner I went and crashed.

Friday morning we woke up early and went on another hike, this time through the desert lead by an American who made Aliya (after going to Brandeis, surprise). We ended up at these ruins which had once been a fort on the incense road from Africa into the Middle East. We frolicked around the ruins for quite a while and climbed in some tiny caves, which was delightful. We are basically a whole group of small children, so it was good. After the hike we went to the beach in Eilat and went snorkeling. Eilat is known for being one of the best diving spots in the world, not to mention in Israel, so I was eager to go out. The coral was really beautiful, although not as bright as the stuff you see in Maui. There were some really impressive fish, including some giant ones and ones shaped like pencils that we really wanted to fence with. Also, I SWEAR TO GOD I saw a humuhumu. For those of you who don’t know, the humuhumunukunukua’pua’a is the state fish of Hawaii, and my favorite thing ever. I saw it swimming around the coral and I accidentally swallowed a lot of salt water in my excitement. No one else was around me, but when we were swimming back to the beach Hannah saw another one (the same one) and we followed it for a few minutes. I need to do some internet research and see it humuhumus actually live in the Red Sea, but if not, there is a fish that is identical just chilling in Eilat. [UPDATE: yes, they do live in the red sea! I TOTALLY SAW A HUMUHUMU. AWESOME.]

After the hike went to our hotel, which is called Malony (the word for hotel in Hebrew is “malon”) and was one LOS ANGELES STREET. No kidding. What? We were going to grill hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner, but according to the kosher rules of the hotel we were going to have to go to a park to grill them. But the skeezy guy who ran the hotel let us squat in the parking lot to do it instead. We used the little portable charcoal grills that we used for our beach bbq at the beginning of the semester, which, while not my instrument of choice, did the job well enough. I obviously grilled, along with Benji and Nate, and we ended up making some pretty good stuff. The best part was that all the stuff hadn’t defrosted all the way, so Hannah decided to sit on all these packages of hamburgers to warm them up. It was quite effective, until we realized that they worked better frozen. Nice try, Hannah.

Saturday morning we woke up and had Israeli hotel breakfast, which was not awesome. I don’t know why they have decided you should have veggies for breakfast instead of fruit, but I’m not a huge fan. I don’t want a salad first thing in the morning, thanks anyway. We drove to this geological wonderland, and watched a 15 minute multimedia SPECTACULAR. THE CHAIRS ROTATED. It was possibly the best thing I have ever seen in my life. It was so creepy, and so nonsensical, and OUR CHAIRS MOVED, it was amazing. After that we drove around to a few of the sites mentioned in the video, which have some really amazing rock formations. On top of Soloman’s pillars Benji made henna and we all painted ourselves and Katie and Nate in honor of their upcoming wedding. The henna didn’t stick, but the three hours I had a dinosaur on my forearm were some of the best hours of my life.

After that we went to a kibbutz that is known for being ecological and doing some great recycling and reusing work. They get trash and tires from Eilat brought in, and they use them to make benches, play structures, and all sorts of things for their kibbutz. They let us run wild in the area called “eco-kef” (kef means fun!), which is a playground totally made out of reused trash, clay, and sand. We were worse than kindergarteners, and the guy was really amused at our immense enthusiasm. They have a permanent Twister court painted on the ground, and we were all over that.

After the kibbutz we got back on the bus and drove the four hours back to Tel Aviv. Tired, stinky, and sunburned, plus sick with a cold, but pretty happy. Worked well.

It’s going to be very strange to leave these people. Like any program where you rely almost entirely on each other, we’ve become very close, and I’m really going to miss them. I mean, yes, sometimes in a group of 25 people the drama becomes overwhelming, but we really are a great group with a good mix of people, and I have a lot of fun when we’re all together. I’m glad to be going on the Grand Adventure, of course, but I am really going to miss these people. At least we’ll mostly all be in the states next year, so we can do some visiting.

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