Monday, October 5, 2015

Birthright Trip to Israel: Day 7

We woke up quite early from the Bedouin tent and headed to breakfast almost immediately. There was a separate building for breakfast, and this included tables, benches, and a buffet. This was the saddest breakfast of the whole trip. (The scrambled eggs were always weird in Israel, but these took it to another level.) I ended up just having some cereal, a roll with some jelly, and more pudding (duh).

My sister and I on a camel. Photo by Becca Pomerantz.
Right after breakfast we got to ride camels! There were about 30 Dromedary camels, and each one had a special saddle that would seat two people. All of the camels were roped together (head to tail), so there was no chance of a camel running off away from the group. So we just all walked in a line around the area (pretty much in a big circle), and we were done within 30 minutes (which was good because 1. We were already starting to feel the heat even at 8AM, and 2. That saddle is not particularly comfortable after a while. We weren't allowed to pet the camels, but their funny faces were quite cute! This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was like riding a horse, but we were just higher off the ground!

Then we got back on the bus and went to an organic farm that is on the "salad trail" in Israel. The farm is about five miles from the Egyptian border and five miles from Gaza, so it's right in that little corner of Israel. We spent the afternoon tasting all sorts of delicious things: herbs like lavender and mint, ripe passion fruit, and the most amazing little tomatoes I have ever eaten in my life. They grew so many different varieties of tomatoes, and each one had its own delicious flavor. They also grew cucumbers and honeydew melons in the same greenhouses. We could just pick everything straight from the vine, and we ate ourselves silly! We also made some matzo-like bread (I made my dough very thin, Silly Putty-style).

Herb Garden
Tomatoes! They grow vertically at first, but then the farmers move them to be horizontal. Then the plans naturally start growing vertically again, so the farm can get twice as much fruit!
Our guide making matzo
And as usual, there was some sort of history lesson to go along with the visit. We learned that drip irrigation was invented in Israel, and that desalinization is done a lot there to get fresh water. The farm had some pigeons, and we heard the story about how carrier pigeons were used from that site to send messages to Tel Aviv when this little town was attacked by Egypt when Israel was created in the late 1940's.

Afterward, again because of the heatwave, our hike was canceled and we (you guessed it) went to another shopping mall. However, it was an outdoor outlet mall, so we were still outside, so this really made no sense. My sister and I split a mediocre shawarma sandwich and ate it quickly so we could go shopping. There was a store selling lotions and such, which reminded me of Bath and Body Works. There were several clothing stores that I had seen at the other malls, too, like FOX and Castro. We did up finding a fun store where I bought a beautiful green, lace dress; it only cost about $25-$30, and it looks awesome!

View from our room in the Masada Guest House
After lunch we headed to the Masada Guest House, our next hostel. The rooms were almost just like our first hostel except that we had a balcony. We had the rest of the day to ourselves, which was greatly appreciated. Many people went swimming in the outdoor pool, but it just was SO hot that I did not want to be outside. So I relaxed, taking a shower, writing in my journal, and reading. After all of us had cleaned up, we headed to our buffet dinner. There were two kinds of couscous (yum!), and fresh fruit (plums or figs...), so that was nice. We had a brief group activity where we talked about Rabin and the conflict between Israel and Palestine. When the group was dismissed, a few of us were asked to stay behind; I knew it couldn't be something bad because the handful of people who stayed were the most mature, respectful of the group. We were told that we would present poems/stories when we visited Mount Herzl, the military cemetery in Israel. I was told that one of the boys in the group and I would read a poem together ("The Missed Chance" by Yair Laipd; our version was slightly shorter). I was very glad that our guide Shira had included me in this group; I'm used to being the "teacher's pet," and I was glad that someone finally acknowledged my good behavior!

That night we learned that our hike to Mount Masada for the next day would, of course, be cancelled. Most of us were really looking forward to this hike, and before I left on this trip, everyone I knew who had been to Israel said that I needed to do that hike. So this was very unfortunate. But at least we could sleep in!

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