Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Yam Le Yam!!!

Magen David Adom was an amazing 10 days where much was learned and most of all, close friendships were formed with the participants from all around the globe. We missed them so much that this past Shabbat we already had a mini reunion with the ones volunteering in Tel Aviv!

After our free Shabbat where we finally got to relax after the intensive MDA course, we met up for Yam le Yam, aka Chof le Chof, aka Sea to Sea, ie. Walking from the Kinneret to the Mediterranean Sea. Our first stop was a water hike in the Majarase river which was an amazing way to begin considering the heat at this time of year. 

We then made our way to our first camping site where we were met with a sumptuous dinner before setting up our gear before it got too dark. Sleeping under the stars was a scary thought for some initially, and the first night of open air sleeping saw not a small number of people waking up a few times thanks to the nocturnal wildlife. 

After getting up bright and early at 5.30 on Monday morning, we packed up our camp and had a hearty breakfast before setting out on our long day of hiking ahead. Shaul our tour guide led up through the trails, with the highlight of the morning being the climb up the rock face! Finally we had a well-earned break on a magnificent lookout where we rested under the shade and let the cool breeze wash over us. 

We did another trek for lunch before climbing to the peak of Mount Merom and down the other side to our campsite for the next night. Tonight people chose to sleep in tents and this proved a great idea when the temperature plummeted when it got dark!

On Tuesday we had an easier trail which was mostly downhill. For lunch, we found a great spot with a nice spring to have a swim in. However, just as we were settling down, along came 300 goats with their shepherd to graze and drink in the area! After a good rest, we finished off the hike at our new campsite and had a beautiful dinner before retiring to bed.  

Wednesday saw our final day of hiking and we started off in great fashion with lots of water crossings involved. Throughout the hike we had many dips in the water and during our first break, Ali our guide, made us all his special camping coffee! We stopped for lunch at a magnificent water hole where many had a good swim. 

We then finished off the water hiking before coming to the final part of the hike, a 25 minute tough uphill to the campsite. While grueling and our calves were aching, the views we got to see were well worth it. Check out the pictures which still don’t do justice to what the human eye can envision! 


On our final day of Yam le Yam, we were told to get on our bikes to finish it off. So we did. Luckily for us, most of the way was downhill, which allowed us to let loose and enjoy the breeze upon our faces as we raced down the mountains towards the sea. 

When we finally arrived at the end of our journey, we discussed the trip, our highlights and memories before a well-deserved swim in the sea. After a final lunch with our guides, we said goodbye and headed off to our free weekend, ready to put up our feet and recuperate for the next intense week of the program J

Monday, May 27, 2013

Just a casual stroll through the desert...

After a relaxing and refreshing chofesh which included Shavuot, the MSLP gang got back together for a couple of days of hiking by the Dead Sea. 

Our first destination was Ein Gedi. We walked along the beautiful trail next to the Ein Gedi kibbutz, and marvelled at the magnificent scenery as it opened up before us along the way. We also made a few stops at the lovely little pools of water to cool off from the very harsh heat. As we were leaving, we saw a whole flock of ibex climbing and jumping all over the cliff faces. This was truly a wonder to behold.

On our way to our accommodation for the evening, we made a stop at the Dead Sea for a quick float; we just forgot to bring our newspapers! Finally, we came to the hostel, where we were met with the welcome relief of air conditioning. 

Early in the morning, around 4am, we all rose to begin our climb up Masada in order to view sunrise from the top. The climb was hot and exhausting but well worth it as we saw the sun slowly ascend over the Jordanian mountains to begin a new day. After the sun had risen, we had a tour of Masada, and brought it alive with different people dressing up as characters from the tales and telling us the story through their eyes.

Eventually, we walked back down the snake path to a wholesome breakfast back at the hostel. We then journeyed on to our second walk of the day, Nachal Og. This was a walk with a difference, as along the way one had to scale up the mountains using grapple hooks inbuilt into the side of the cliff. This was certainly a lot of fun, except for when we got stuck behind a group of school kids who took a little longer than we would have liked…

Finally, we returned to Jerusalem where we attended a MASA event with a few thousand others. We were treated to an incredible performance by the VOCA people, a group that performs a Capella in a very unique style. 

We had a great time during these two days and now are in the midst of a Magen David Adom (Israel Red Cross) training course in Jerusalem. It is very interesting and we are all learning a thing or two that will surely come in handy someday.

Regards from Israel!