Tiberias and the North (Golan Heights)

Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
Trip End Oct 01, 2008

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Flag of Israel  ,
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Finally, some good exercise!  We wake up bright and early for a morning hike in the Golan Heights, a disputed territory that Israel captured from Syria in the Yom Kippur war.  Yael, our guide, has us play a fun game as we trek down the mountain. Everyone starts with a spoon and the point is to get the most spoons by taking them from others if you can get them to respond to any question using any of the following words: "Yes, no, black or white".  I am confident I've won the game and retire my efforts in favor of quizzing Yael about Israeli life yet again, only to discover that my cousin Laura has taken the day, however sneakily! We make a stop at a memorial site where several IDF soldiers were killed no more than 18 months earlier when a katyusha missile landed near a checkpoint a short distance from the Lebanese border. Our group makes a lunch stop at a mall when a few of the people request fast food, in typical American style.  We hit up an Israeli version of Starbucks where the food is actually really fresh and good.

More exercise as we do a nature walk at Tel Dan, where Yael grew up at Kibbutz Dan.  There is a stream that feeds into the River Jordan and the water is so clean that we can drink right from the river. I do a bit of tree climbing with Jorge and enjoy the scenery, looking ahead to the nature and wildlife of my safari to come!

A Lebanese snack called Knafe (goat cheese covered in a sugary something and although it looks like shredded carrots in cream cheese is actually quite good) refuels us before exploring an IDF bunker at the top of Mount Ben Tal overlooking Syria.  While everything there has been decommissioned, I am beginning to get the feeling of how quickly things can go from all quiet to full on war mode. The mine fields, statues made of scrapped tanks and movie about a tank division in the Yom Kippur War open my eyes to how fragile the current peace is, even though my eyes may have been closed for a portion, or all, of the movie!

Finally making it back to the hotel, all the sketchy food finally catches up to me.  Our group
does dinner and then sits down for a discussion that gets quite heated before filtering off to bed slowly for a night of sleeping without a working heater and a window that won't quite close, brrr!  I fade in and out of reality thinking of what I will do when I'm on my own...
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