It's been great having a lot of time off of school that last week. I really have a good chance to appreciate parts of Israel and even parts of Jerusalem when I don't have the weight of classwork in the back of my mind.
I hadn't seen any of my Israeli friends for a while, so for the weekend I went up north to Kiryat Shmoneh to hang out with Michal, one of the shlichim (Israelis that come to work at summer camps) that I became really good friends with. Even though I hopped off the bus in the rain, the backdrop of the city is beautiful!
You have the mountains in the background and if you look off into the distance you can even see Mount Chermon, the highest peak in Israel, if the sky is clear enough. The city itself is a sleepy little town in the periphery of Israel (this has been one of the themes of Israel Seminar this year) and there isn't an overwhelming number of things to do.
We went for a drive on Friday afternoon to try to find something called Knafe. I will write about that at another time. On the way to Masadeh (a town up in the hills) we picked up some hitch hikers, and this is something completely normal. When you live out on the periphery, often times you have no way to get around when you don't have a car. The answer is to walk and hope a car passes that is willing to give you a ride somewhere. It was really interesting talking to these two guys who were out on the week of leave from the army to hike trails in the Golan.
After trying Knafe at a two different restaurants in the Druze Village we went for hike to see the ruins of a Syrian town, I don't remember the name of it, that appeared to be have been abandoned after the borders moved in 1967. Nature really conqures everything in the end. The houses that had been damaged, apparently due to fighting during the war, were filled in with grasses and the woods creeping back in to retake their land.
Standing inside one of these ruined houses we could see some stunning views of heights. It was absolutely breathtaking.
For dinner, Ariel, Michal's boyfriend, cooked an amazing vegetarian, Indonesian flavored, dish. It was a little like a stir-fried, Asian Chipotle. But instead of a burrito, it is wrapped in rice paper.
(For those of you wondering why I'm eating ride, it's passover. I do not exclude Kitniyot from my diet during the holiday)
I have to say that Ariel is an amazing cook, dinner and the trekking that day was amazing.
That was just day 1.
I'm writing this from the bus ride home (yea for having internet on the busses), so there will be another post later with more of my break and a few pictures as well.