Birthright Journal - Day 6

5/24 “Most likely 7 am, wakin’ up in the morning…”

And when I got down, everyone was loading up the bus. I ran downstairs and shoved eggs down my face. The lady there told me to sit, but I didn't have time for manners. (Sorry mom, there was no pudding.) We are going to the Independence Hall and then the beach, and we got clearance for extra beach time. With all the skin damage I got from the sun, I don't think a lot of beach time is ideal, but what am I going to do, huh? Eli Wiesel said that a Jew is “one who endures”. I will do my best.

(Update: I cannot find this quote, so if someone knows what I’m referring to, please let me know! Eli Wiesel mentions Jews’ resilience, Mark Twain calls the Jew “immortal”, and JFK says, “Israel will endure”.) --- Independence hall. That's a really cool story, too. It was signed in an art gallery in Tel Aviv, not Israel, and the name comes from an ideal city written about by Theodore Hertzel. Then they played a recording of the original broadcast including the first time “Hatikvah” as the national anthem after the declaration was signed. We all stood and a lot of people sang it softly, and our anthem got nothing on theirs. It probably helps that (to my knowledge) “Hatikvah” doesn’t have a second verse about slavery. That was fun. Now we are going to the beach! Fun fact about Israel: Their graffiti here is art, not gang crap! I even saw some Banksy-looking art, too!

--- "I hate sand. It's rough, coarse, irritating, and it gets everywhere! But not here..." said the poet Anakin Skywaker from episode 2.

Our beach's name is "La La Land", (or was it Moonlight?)

This beach is really nice. Not as salty as the Dead Sea (Of course I tasted the Mediterranean!) It really reminds me of the beaches I’ve been to in California, but in truth, there's more garbage here. There were even military planes that flew over, decked out in camo. --- In Israel, they have a game called "Matkot", which is a game with two large wooden paddles and a small rubber ball. And the game essentially is to keep it up. I have been preparing for that my whole life! My family plays that with badminton equipment, but it's the same basic principle. Lunch was at a little concession place across the road (for bikes and segways). I got a panini-like sandwich with chicken (or so they claimed) and pesto.

All in all, the beach was great! I think that it has received the most immediate positive feedback from everyone. (I'm sure upon reflection this might not be as memorable, but it was definitely what we needed to wash away the confusion of the past two days.) Oh yeah, and I thought it was funny how our adult, "Alex" had to call the bus driver, a religious Jew, to come get us and the only landmark was a strip club called, "The Pussycat". So, he had to say, "yeah, we’re all outside, meet us at the Pussycat strip club." Now we have a long bus ride to a kibbutz in the Golan heights. I'm gonna try to catch some sleep. --- Update: burned all over! We stopped at a mall in the middle of nowhere to pee and eat. I got a larger bottle of aloe! And falafel. But, the falafel place, which is supposedly the best in Israel (and therefore the world) ran out of hummus! So, I just had tahina, and fun fact: tahina disintegrates the pita without the hummus to absorb it. All around the mall were soldiers with their machine guns. It's so weird how just nonchalant that is! --- Our kibbutz this time is called “Kibbutz Afik” and we are staying there for tonight and tomorrow. It is the nicest and worst (aside from the Bedouin tents) place so far. On the one side, the beds are nice, and the pillows and towels are soft. There are plants and flowers everywhere making getting anywhere is a maze! On the other hand, I saw a big ass Beetle, a large spider, and there were accounts of cicadas and clogged drains that leaked into neighboring rooms. And finally, the bathroom:

Yup, mop to push the water into the drain, and the soft curtain sticks to your butt when you turn around in there. --- We met back to do some activities that the Israelis had us do. These are great ice breakers that I've never seen before, and I hate ice breakers! You may wonder, “More ice breakers? We’re halfway through this trip.” And I will respond that these were actually fun. Here’s the gist of what they were: 1) Everyone sits around. One is a penguin. One empty chair. The penguin need to find a seat, so everyone will swap seats to block the penguin. Continue with more chairs and penguins. 2) Everyone holds their chair leaning forward. Object is to keep your chair from tipping. "Sababa" = everyone swaps the chair to their right; "Kapara" = everyone swaps left; and "kisemek" (a really bad Arabic curse) = everyone spins around to grab their chair. If the chair tips, you sit in the middle and tighten the circle. 3) Everyone's eyes are closed except for the leader. One person is tapped up and is instructed to tap those they want to do stuff with: -Fight together with (there are IDF soldiers and people chose me! Do they think I'd be a good meat shield!?)

fun fact: afterwards, one of the IDF soldiers admitted to picking me! Holy crap, I wouldn’t pick me! -Get plastered with (I got a ton of taps. Note: I've been sharing the jellyfish story and I was sober for that. Also, I felt someone tap me over and over. I peeked to see who you were!) -be for a day (yeah, my mind is an anomaly that should be studied and ranked as another wonder of the world!) -made you laugh (I got a lot) -dress well (suck it, mom! Someone appreciates the t-shirt, shorts, and whatever hair I woke up in look!) -keep in touch with (that was the first one but I got a couple.) -live with for a week (I got a few. Anyone need a roommate?) -get to know better. I tapped people for that one. (Sorry guys, I couldn't get to everyone in time!) That exercise was so incredible, that if I wasn't making jokes to lighten the mood, I'd probably have teared up! I don't have much self-confidence (hence the neuroticism), and this exercise really showed how everybody has been acknowledged by at least someone. I wonder if this is an army exercise, to enforce trust and unity.

Update: I asked. It’s not. I still think it should be.

Status: Tomorrow is going to be packed so I am going to sleep after some Benadryl, because I am sooo burnt and my body radiates heat already, so this is turned all the way up. I am writing this whilst sitting right in front of the A/C, which I turned all the way up and cold and hid the remote so it stays like that!

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