Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Israel part 3: The Golan

The Golan:
I left Jerusalem and made my way up to the Golan heights. My first of many run-ins with the Israeli bus service. I was quite excited to be going to the border area as I usually am whenever I go anywhere there has been recent conflict . That and to see the Lebanesse and Syrian borders was one of the main reasons I went to Israel in the first place.
The bus ride up was aesthetically pleasing to say the least. I spent  a little over half the trip talking with a young American girl who was serving in the IDF as a field intelligence officer. I have always had some deep seated and romanticized desire to work in intelligence and so when she asked me what I do I couldn’t help myself from pretending to have previously worked in this field (in retrospect a horrible idea I  know). It did provide for some interesting conversation and she did share some information im not sure she would have otherwise but after she left the bus the realization of how potentially stupid what I had done was hit me and since I was in the land of security hypersensitivity, I started getting paranoid about my surroundings, which paved the way for one of the more extreme panic attacks I have experienced… Hot flashes, believing the falafal I bought at the bus stop was poisoned, heart palpitations, etc. This lasted for a good part of the rest of the trip up north and was the first (and most severe) of several panic attacks that came knocking that week.

I arrived at Kibutz Ortal (Kibutz: a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture)  around 10 pm, just in time to call up some delivery hummus from a place called the blue bus, have a few beers and call it a night. Zzzz
Morning: I wake up to a wonderful, calm and charming estate. My first Kibutz experience was a success. I got to visit the stables, (where the kids living on the Kibutz get to ride whenever they want) have lunch with the members in the communal cafeteria and take a tour around the grounds. I also had the opportunity to visit the chicken farm and had great conversation with its caretaker, a Russian jew with a great sense of humor and a love of…chickens, his will to learn English pushed him to get me to spend most of the afternoon with him.
Rudi, my host, a young man of Russian decent with a big heart and a receding hairline of Jack Nicholson proportions, then took me out to the Syrian border through a road whose entrance included a big sign saying “ military personnel only”
On this road I got to see my first formally marked mine field. Its yellow and orange signs marked “danger, mines” had an attractive quality I had not been witness to, some strange mixture of bug light and bungee jumping. I resisted the unexplainable temptation to take a picture from the “live” side of the barbed wire.
I must admit, I expected to see a little more infrastructure on the border. For the seperation of countries that hate each other so much there was little dividing the two except a few “decoy tanks” on the Israeli side and a bizarre Technicolor mosque equipped with green LED lights on the Syrian side. All of this guarded by a very basic and, lets face it, slightly impotent UN base. Not much to set one’s eyes upon however the implications set forward by the setting’s history were enough to make it a tantalizing experience.
Two days on the kibutz and it was time to head out. It was hard saying bye to Rudi, a generous young man, interested in life and in love with it. My kind of people.
After a failed attempt at hitchhiking, I dropped the hitch and started hiking, occasionally, and in a rather shy way, sticking my thumb out as I walked along. Some twenty kilometers later I washed up at my next hosts doorstep, tired, thirsty and sunburned.
It was my hosts birthday and she had invited 10 of her friends to stay overnight in the half-trailer she had ingeniously turned into what she called home. Approximately 5 meters by 3 meters. A room, a bathroom, a living room and a kitchen. Ten friends, herself and myself.
Where am I? I remember thinking as I woke up on the floor of the porch, my head hanging over the edge. I had passed out on the floor in the middle of  what im sure was a very interesting account of a recent trip to Georgia three members of our little congregation had taken
I was able to arouse enough interest in it that a dip in the adjacent pond became a reality.
After breakfast, the amalgamation dissipated and none but myself; a short, stalky, blond woman in her mid 30’s and my host, Shiran, remained.
I loitered the day away in the hamac overlooking the pasture down below, watching the bulls chase tail. (The blond woman later sent me an email asking me if I wanted to be a guest at her house in the south as we had shared a “moment” and we could have a lot of “fun” together… I was confused at best).

1 comment:

  1. This seems so far from home. By home I obviously mean the beautiful and calm St-Augustin. Take good care out there, it's always nice to read you.

    Your friendly neighbor,