Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Birthright Trip to Israel: Day 2 (the longest day of my life)

This day almost killed me. We did SO much and were SO busy and I got SO frustrated that I kept thinking to myself, "Oh my God, I can't believe I have eight more days of this." So here we go...

Part 1: Hike down Mt. Arbel

Overlooking the Sea of Galilee from Mt. Arbel
This was a very rocky climb right next to the Sea of Galilee. It was a beautiful hike, but was more difficult than the one the day before; some people were lagging even 15-20 minutes behind because they couldn't keep up with the rest of the group. There were definitely some steep parts! Here are some more photos:

See the tiny person to the right. We started up at the top!
My sister and I are standing in a cave in the mountain; Jews came there to hide a long time ago.
So far, so good. Moving on...

Part 2: Visiting Tzfat (or Safed)

We then drove to the city of Tzfat. It is the highest city in Israel and is one of Israel's four Holy Cities (Tzfat is the home of Kabbalah). Tzfat is best known for its artisans, from painters and sculptors to jewelry makers and candle makers. Unfortunately, we had very little time here (maybe 30 minutes to go shopping). We had falafel for lunch (still not my favorite), and after shopping it was already time to leave. This town was so cool: I wish we had had more time to visit!

Here is a synagogue we visited; ladies had to cover their shoulders and legs. Notice the blue fences and windows: blue is a holy color in Judaism (hence the blue on the Israeli flag).
This is a holy arch in the synagogue from the 16th century.
This is some of the candle art we saw: Noah's ark with cartoon characters!
Then the day took an ugly turn...

Part 3: "Kayaking" on the Jordan River

For starters, I enjoy kayaking. I kayak for work and I like doing it in my free time. So I was looking forward to this activity. However, this was NOT kayaking. It was rafting with six people per boat with only two oars. This is like saying, "We're going to fly a kite," but really it's wind-surfing. These are two completely different things!

Does this look like kayaking to you? I don't think so.
I made sure to get in a boat with people who didn't want to get wet (some people were looking forward to flipping over, and I was NOT into that). Had it not been for other rafters, the ride would have been very pleasant; it's like a lazy river, and you could just float along. However, because of all the other people, it was like water bumper cars out there! Other rafts are bumping into you, pushing you into the sides of the river (it was quite narrow, actually), where you could get scratched and hit by branches and thorns. There was also A LOT of splashing, some by people we didn't even know! I did NOT want to get wet, and yet these strangers (and some of our fellow [juvenile] Israelis on the trip) kept splashing us to no end! Even yelling and cursing did not deter them; even the parents of small children did not reprimand them for splashing us! AND to top it all off, some stranger actually swam out from his raft to try to tip us over! I was mortified. We were yelling at him, and I swear, if he had held on to our boat for one extra second, I would have hit him square in the eye with the end of my paddle. After that, I was ready to be DONE. I paddled as hard and as fast as I could (my legs and arms were actually quivering from the exertion), and we were the first boat out of the water. Needless to say, I was SO glad the experience was over. At this point, the Israeli people themselves had not done a good job of winning me over, and at that moment I really couldn't wait for the trip to be over.

The night ended just like the others: dinner and then games. I ate quickly so I could shower and get that river water off of my skin and out of my hair. Later we played a name game, which I would have KILLED (I am one of those few people who's actually good with faces and names), but I wasn't going to compete for attention with the clowns in my group, so I let them have their fun. Then we did some improv comedy (which is very difficult, so I'm not sure why we did it), similar to "Who's Line Is It, Anyway?" Most of it wasn't funny (again, since most people aren't good at improv, including myself, who didn't even participate), and the only part I really liked was when one of the girls played a "Valley Girl" cow: "Like, moo!"

Ugh. End scene.

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