Israel and Back to Work
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
It has been over a week, and I am still not really back from Israel. Sure, physically I am sitting here at my desk in my office, but mentally I am still hiking near the Gilbon stream in the Golan Heights in Israel. Coming back to work again is mentally like climbing Masada 5 times in a row without resting (in other words... it's HARD!!! haha).
Israel was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. We hiked 8 of the 10 days that we were there, rock climbed, rode camels, did Israeli dancing, tasted wine, swam in hot springs, floated in the Dead Sea, CLIMBED MASADA, visited and swam in a desert oasis (Ein Gedde), went dancing in a night club in Jerusalem, slept in a Bedoin tent, and somehow managed to sleep for brief intervals as well.
I have so much to say about all of it, and I think I'll write a series of blogs about the different things that we did, but the first day that I have to talk about was the day we climbed Masada.
We woke up at 3:45 am for the hike. All of us packed our bags, as we knew we weren't coming back to this hotel, and dragged our heavy luggage to the dining area. After a small bite to eat (literally just a piece of a pound cake type thing and some coffee) we loaded the bus and drove to Masada. It was pitch black and freezing, with a cold air whipping across the desert, and even the warmest dressed were shivering. The runners went to the head of the group and started to jog up the path, while the rest of us took on a steady pace and began climbing.
Masada, when climbed from the snake path, is a grueling uphill climb. The entire time you are climbing up a very steep and winding path that is a combination of rocks and steps, and the only straight paths last for less than a minute, and then you find yourself climbing up again. Our runners took a wrong turn on the way up, and went in an entirely wrong direction, and had to back track, ending up in the back of the group. The rest of us continued plodding on. I remember getting up to a resting point, and thinking, thank goodness we are almost done! And then our guide congratulated us for being about a third done with the hike.
We climbed, and climbed.... and climbed some more, stopping every so often to rest and catch our breath, and when we came to the top, we stepped over to the overlook just in time to watch the sun peek out from behind the clouds and give us an incredible view of the desert and the Dead Sea. It was breath taking.
The best part of the climb, for me, was actually being able to do it. It wasn't EASY by any means, but I know that if I had tried doing that even six months ago, I would have been done half way up (maybe less!), or I would have opted for taking a cable car ride up there instead of climbing. To be able to watch the sun rise from the top of the mountain was an experience I can't fully describe. All I can say is, I loved it, and I love the new, and healthier, me.
Now that I'm back, I've been thrown into a bunch of work that piled up while I was gone, on top of the other work with deadlines that are looming on the near horizon. I'm getting through it, inch by inch, but my heart and mind are still back in Israel. If you've never been there before... GO! The media makes it sound like a war zone, but as long as you stay away from Gaza, it doesn't even feel like there is anything like that happening. It is gorgeous, and filled with endless places to explore, people to meet and things to do. The country practically bleeds history, and even though I am someone who NEVER liked learning about history in general, I found myself enthralled by the information.
I know I'm going to go back, as soon as I possibly can.