Shana Tova! Happy New Year!

by Jemmina

After ending the last blog with ‘onwards and upwards to another week’ my body decided to get tonsillitis.
Realising that I could hardly string a sentence together, I went home early on Monday. The same day that the West Bank public transport went on strike. I managed to get the check point(via bus and taxi) and once through I was able to call my landlord to come pick me up and drop me back home. Its only a 5 minute walk, but I just couldn’t do it. Luckily I have an amazing landlord.
I spent the rest of the day on the couch feeling sorry for myself, and for once wishing I was back home. I heard a protest outside my house about the rising cost of gas at one point, but I couldn’t move, so I stayed on the couch. At one, particularly miserable point I did beg for my mother to buy a plane ticket to come look after me.

Feeling better(apart from a scratchy throat), on Thursday I jumped onto a bus to The Sea of Galilee(The Kinneret). 2 years ago my family stayed with a family  acquaintance in a huge house with incredibly views of the Kinneret. We all have fond memories of our time here and we talk about it regularly. It really is my favourite view on earth.

Best view ever

Micky, the host, has an open house and often has different people from all over staying. There was a big event on that weekend called, ‘Swim across the Kinneret’ so the house was going to be full. His son, Gal and his 2 friends were there and we got on immediately. We spent most of the night just hanging out and talking, this is exactly what I wanted this part of my trip to be like.
Friday we went for a hike up a rocky hill to a spring, after a short detour(‘to get you hot and sweaty so you’ll appreciate the water’) we found ourselves at a spring coming out of a rock face. In the rock a small door was cut, climbing through the door we found ourselves in a cave half full of water. It was amazing and the perfect thing after hiking up (and down) the hill. On the crags of the rocks there were candles everywhere. We finished the day by eating apples dipped into honey to remind us to have a ‘sweet new year’.

The next day we all woke up early to go down to Kinneret so the others could swim. I was left with everyone’s stuff on the beach to people watch. It was packed, there were over 6000 people swimming. The others finished, collected their Choco(Chocolate milk in a bag), bun and medal and shared their Choco with me. On our way out Gal(around 26-27) spotted the waterslides, and informing me that they were the ‘height of happiness’ ran off leaving me with his stuff and dragging his friends along. I laughed at them, but only because I didn’t have my togs and couldn’t go.

After a delicious BBQ and relaxing for a while, we decided to go down to the Jordan river to jump off a tree. We set off, passing the pilgrimage shop/baptismal site/ restaurant, stopping further down the river. The water was amazing and jumping off the tree was exhilarating. This is also why I was here, for amazing experiences like this. The river was packed with families picnicking on the riverbank. After we decided who could make the biggest splash and were exhausted we sat down for some coffee before heading back. Passing the pilgrimage stop again I thought about how sorry I felt for all the tourists, they pay USD$25+ to be baptised in a small, manicured part of the Jordan river when I get go a few metres down, climb up a tree and jumpinto the cool, refreshing water. Two very different experiences.

So beautiful

SundayI relaxed, and read a book, before setting off for Haifa. After a few change of plans, I was invited to stay at Micky’s for Rosh Hashana(Jewish New Year) and to his daughters for dinner. His daughter, her husband and son had just been to NZ so  they were great to talk to. Before dinner we went for a walk to the beach with Alon(3) but that ended with him telling us that ‘this was the most annoying day of his whole life’.(kids don’t change wherever you go) Dinner was great starting with Alon, Alon’s dad and Gal doing the haka. We ate and talked and wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Haka for Rosh Hashana

MondayI went for a walk along the shores of the Kinneret, sitting under the shade of some date palms for a while. While walking I spotted my second chameleon of the weekend. The first we spent 1/2 hour trying to get him out from under the car after he decided the wheel was a good place to live. After resting I walked down to the Jordan River to go for a swim. I love swimming in rivers, they’re so nice and refreshing. That evening Micky was going out for dinner to celebrate a friends birthday and invited me. It was nice.

Date Palms

Tuesday I relaxed, as it was too hot to do anything and just thinking about walking back up the hill made me cringe. I sat, read a book and chilled. Once the sun started to go down(and the holiday was officially over), I caught a bus to Tiberias, in order to catch a bus to Jerusalem. The ride back to Jerusalem was full of unusual encounters. First of all, on my 3 hour bus ride there was a dog, not some cute handbag dog that Paris would walk around with. This dog was huge!
At the short stop in Afula I spied a guy Maori tattoo, upon asking where he was from I discovered that he was from Titirangi and was working at a kibbutz. And on the bus home I met a girl from Brisbane volunteering at ChristChurch.
I love meeting all sorts of people from all around the world, but its amazing when you meet someone from home.
I am home ‘home’ now and thankful a bed and a space to call my own.

Until next time,
May God Bless you and Keep you.