A Chronicle of touring Israel with a Taglit-Birthright group: The first night
As joyful as this first day of my trip had been so far, it seems our faithful tour guides were reserving the best for last.
After we were done with our dinner at the Beduim-styled tourist camp, we all gathered at our group tent in order to participate in the “Ice Break” group activity meant allow the American and Israeli group members to get to know each other better, the Americans were divide into eight small groups and each group was assigned one Israeli member and tasked with preparing a certain kind of act to introduce their Israeli to the rest of the group.
My group, which included Doug, Danielle, and a couple of other members whose names I shamefully fail to remember (I’d be very happy if someone could refresh my memory in the comments below…), was tasked with writing and performing a country song about me, needless to say it was immensely amusing and rewarding to hear it… (Guys! If anyone kept the song lyrics by any chance, I’d love to have it!).
Most noteworthy of the various performing groups was the one that, to the sound of loud, excited, applauds, talent-fully performed a rap song about their respective Israeli. Too bad I fail to remember who those guys were and who was the Israeli. (Reminder comments are welcome…)
Once the Ice-Break activity was over and done with, we all dispersed in various directions, some heading off to the showers, others beginning preparations to turn in and others still simply stepping outside of the group tent (To tour the camp I assumed). As for me I decided to stay in the tent for a while and hang out with the cheerful group of people that gathered together in the middle and began passing snacks around.
Snacks being passed around, discussion quickly turned to comparisons between them and to their American counterparts, as faithful Israelis, we wasted no time in introducing our American friends into Bamba, the hallmarked peanut-flavored Israeli snack commonly being the first non-liquid thing even fed to Israeli children.
After the conversation in the tent somewhat died down, I`ve noticed a large commotion going on outside the tent. Stepping outside I’ve noticed a camp fire was lit and most of our group members were cheerfully singing to the sound of a guitar.
The guitar player was Noam, our group escort and medic, my words will surly not suffice to describe what a terrific guitar player he is. Talking with him for a while during the evening, I found out he not only knows a great repertoire of great English and Hebrew songs by heart, but actually used to perform with his own cover band.
The evening went on with Noam playing and us singing many great classic American hits such as The Eagles` Hotel California, Radiohead`s Creep and Metallica`s Nothing Else Matters. Eventually Noam yielded to my and Dikla’s pleadings to play some Hebrew songs without which a night around the camp fire would seem incomplete, and we sang Monika Sex`es “Maca Afora” (Grey Strike) and Beri Sacharof`s Halaliyot (Spaceships).
One by one our group members left the camp fire and went into the tent to sleep, eventually, Noam stopped playing and we remained a small group of people sitting quietly by the fire, after a while I decided it was time to try and go to sleep. Going into the tent however, I noticed it was a tad too cold and I was a tad too excited to manage falling asleep, therefore I went back outside to sit by the fire where it was a lot warmer.
Sitting outside by the fire I found a terrific guy by the name of Sam. Sam has the kind of face that when you first see, you think he ought to be wearing a baseball cap and driving a big-rig truck across the American desert. Once you’ve talked to him a little you realize you have in front of you, the embodiment of the California beach surf-dude and with amazingly lovable, cheerful and charming personality. When you get to know him, you realize Sam is all that but also very clever and lives by a very robust set of values.
It should come as no surprise to those who know Sam that he chose to stay up all night waiting to see the sun rise over the desert.
So there we sat, around the fire, me, Sam and a few other guys. Occasionally we were visited by members of the other birthright groups who were wondering around the camp. Every once in a wile this old Bedui guy would come around and stand by the fire to warm up his hands, from time to time he would also bring us some more fire wood when we ran out, eventually he chose to sit quietly by the fire until dawn.
Eventually when it was approximately fifteen minutes before sunrise, we got up and went to the eastern edge of the camp. Looking east, we could see a mountain-range forming a straight line at the horizon. Within that line, there were several bowl-shaped incisions. Discussing where the sun would actually come up over the horizon, we figured it would be especially nice if it seemed to come out of one of those bowls
…to be continued…