Midterms and Hiking

Are the two things that have been occupying most of my time lately.  But really, mostly hiking.  A few weeks ago my friend Bekkah from Ohio and I hiked the Jesus Trail, a 65 kilometer trail that runs from Nazareth to Capernaum.  Because of Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day we had a few extra days off, so we were able to take five days to complete the trail.  Most of the trail runs through small, predominantly Arab villages, farmland and parks.  We took the first two days pretty slowly, taking many long breaks beside fields or on hillsides, pondering life and soaking in the sunshine.

On Friday, however, it was a different story.  We got an early start, which was good, after spending the night in a guest shed at Yarok Oz organic goat farm.  Our first obstacle was a series of farm fields that for some reason were infested with flies.  Now I know why the Biblical plague of flies was, well, a plague.  We finally made it through that area and ended up on the outskirts of Kibbutz Lavi, where we visited their Holocaust Memorial and refilled our water bottles.

We were glad we did, because after that we ended up taking the wrong trail through the kibbutz, and by the time we realized and corrected our mistake we were four hours behind schedule and had spent so much time wandering through fields that we were dangerously low on water.  Also, a blister the size of Texas was forming on my toe.  We ended up cutting out a loop of the trail and heading straight for Moshav Arbel, where we spent the night.  The next day we climbed down Mt. Arbel and stopped for a break at a gas station.  I think we were still feeling the effects of being dehydrated the day before, because once we sat down we didn’t want to move again.  So we took a cab straight to Tiberias, where we stayed in a hostel for the night and then rented bikes and rode from Tiberias to Capernaum on Sunday.  So we ended up finishing most of the trail, just not on foot.

The whole trip was amazing, and quite possibly my favorite time here so far.

I was able to see an incredible variety of landscapes, and because we needed to ask for directions so much, we interacted with a lot of different people along the way.  There was something really meaningful about spending five days without internet, and without trying to communicate with anyone who wasn’t right there with us.  Too much of my life is spent in the virtual world of the internet and my phone, and getting away from all of that to focus on absorbing the experience of the moment was liberating and incredibly rewarding.

The following weekend the International School took us on a hiking trip in the north. the first day we hiked near Sefad, and the second day in and around the Hula Valley.  We saw Banias Falls, which was beautiful.  We slept under the stars at a campsite, which was exhilarating (but incredibly cold), and I woke up to little birds hopping around on my sleeping bag.  I’ve discovered how addicting hiking is, and I think this realization will result in a permanent lifestyle change once I return to the States.  Bekkah and I are even thinking about hiking the Appalachian Trail the summer after graduation, I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!

I have actually spent some of the time in the past four weeks doing schoolwork, studying for midterms and writing a couple of papers.  My roommate told me that I was talking in my sleep the other night, and some of what I said was in Hebrew.  So I guess that means I was dreaming at least partly in Hebrew.  This makes me quite excited; I love the idea that the language has sunk into my thoughts enough for this to happen.

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