University of Haifa International School Student Blog
I want to finish the details of the trip that we took the the Upper Galilee. Why? Well b/c tomorrow we’re going on another trip to the Golan Heights 🙂
The second day of the tip was a lot more hiking! But much easier than the day before. The terrain was more level. We continued to walk along a creak of sand stone. At one point along the trip Hanan initiated a game in which we all stood in a circle, held on to a rope and leaned back. Something to do with trust b/c if the people on the other side of the rope decide to release on the tension of then those on the other side of the rope fall back.
That didn’t happen but, we did have a rope walker volunteer. Millie volunteered to walk on the rope, with Hanan’s assistance for balance, around the circle as we all held tight to maintain the tension on the rope. Surprisingly she managed…until the very end. The human circle that we had made crossed a small pool of water. Instead of navigating the pool he brought her off the rope. Towards the end of the day we stopped at a small cave for a break. Israel led several tours into the cave. Only several students could go at a time as the cave was very narrow. On a side note it was also filled with water reaching up to the waist. I didn’t brave the cave but, opted to sleep by the creek. Let me add that I have no regrets about my decision.
That night we made our way into camp. There was still a good deal of sunlight left making it nice for establishing a comfortable sleeping space. We also had time to go out and collect wood. As the light was fading I saw a group of wild pigs/boars waking from their slumber. Apparently they sleep in the day, to avoid the heat, and come out at night to forage for roots etc. I was mildly shocked to see them. First there was a group of three that made their way across the road. Then suddenly another one came scurrying out and gave me a bit of a shock. It didn’t help that I was heading in their general direction to answer nature’s call.
In the evening Michal and Tomer made a cameo appearance at the camp site. We had a huge feast. Salad, barbeque (with vegetarian options!) and freshly made pita (compliments of Tomer and Michal). It was a solid feast! And afterwards I went straight to sleep. There is one thing that I left out. Halfway through the day we visited a Druze Temple/mausoleum. We learned a lot about the Druze culture and religion. The religion is very secretive but, some people within the Druze community have shared knowledge of their religion. Apparently they believe in reincarnation, are a branch of Islam (branched off at least 1000 years ago), and have a strong sense of the nationalism. There have been cases of Druze people fighting each other as opponents representing different sides of a war. In Israel there is a draft placed on Israeli adults (male and female), such that at age 18 they have to go into the military. The draft does not apply to Arab-Israelis. In the 80’s the Druze community sued and won the right to be included in the draft.
The next day we were allowed to leave our packs in a bus that later met us at the Sea of Galilee! Mind you, we had been carrying all of our packing gear on our backs as we made the hike. We climbed to the top of mount Heron! It was uphill the whole way. A long the way there different stories told to us. In the Bible it is explained that King Solomon wanted to build a temple but, didn’t have the skill with wood nor the supplies of wood, gold, etc. to make the build. He asked for the help of the Phoenician’s. The Phoenician King’s mother was Jewish, and was friends with the Israelites. He supplied the wood, craftsmanship, gold etc. for Solomon to build the temple and in return Solomon gave him several villages in the upper Galilee.
There is also a tree called the Kutluv tree. There are 2 legends that we heard about the tree. One was of a bird who would spend it’s time in a Kutluv tree at the bottom of Mt. Heron. The bird was never able to find a mate but took great pleasure in the shelter of the tree. One day the bird proposed to the tree, let us stay together. I have not been able to find a mate but I find so much pleasure in the shelter of your branches. The tree agreed. Together they decided to carry their love to the top of the mountain to symbolize the greatness of their love. But the tree could not move so the bird agreed to lift the tree up and fly it to the top. The tree pulled its roots from the ground and the bird flew and flew up the mountain. But the bird was small and the tree was heavy. The bird had not the strength to carry the tree all the way to the top. The tree was encouraging the bird to continue trying but, the bird’s strength gave out halfway up the mountain and the bird flew away. So this is the story of Kutluv. Love that is cut.
Later that afternoon we made our way into the Sea of Galilee! For all of the hiking that we did, we only spent a couple of hours at the galilee resort. But it was nice to completely submerge in the cool water. The closest thing to a bath that we had had in 3 days! By virtue of its name, I had thought that the Sea of Galilee was salt water. Not! I just assumed that it was and didn’t learn otherwise until I actually went in and tasted the water on my lips, to my pleasant surprise it was SWEET!
So that about wraps up the trip. There is one side note. Hanaan brought us mint, rock sugar and natural mastic that used to be used to make gum. He passed it around and we all got to try the natural gum. And the gum was good!
In other news: I’m really enjoying my classes. We had our first ‘Economics of the Middle East’ class last week. The teacher is awesome! I’m really enjoying the analytical aspects of Economics. I feel a renewed sense of interest. I must admit that I was starting to get rather burned out on school prior to this semester. The atmosphere here is very refreshing!!! It’s definitely what I needed to get myself geared up for Grad School!!! Study Abroad in Haifa is a highly recommended panacea for academic burn out! 🙂 And my Hebrew is coming a long great! Ruthi Rocks! (She’s my Hebrew Teacher)
Peace & Love,