Tuesday, May 18, 2010

End of the first full day in Israel!

Rachel here again. I managed to find an appropriate plug so I could plug in my laptop, since I fried the converter this afternoon (I'm pretty sure it's not my fault, but meh). Mildred's plug set worked, though. :) Warning, this post is going to be image/video-heavy!

Let's see, where are we with this trip business? Ah, Cleveland. Other than sitting there for five hours, it was pretty much uneventful. The flight from Green Bay to Cleveland was only about an hour long, so we just had time to eat our pretzels and juice before we landed, which was the same for the Cleveland to Newark flight.

The first thing I smelled as I got off the plane in Newark was Subway! Guess I hadn't flown far enough away yet. We got Starbucks and wandered to our gate, then got dinner (Chinese!) and waited in the food court nearby. Oddly enough, my phone and internet connection didn't work, but Mom's phone did. So I couldn't update from there.

Around two or three hours before we were supposed to board, we hobbled towards the gate and started meeting up with our tourmates? co-tourists? Co-Creation Gospel-ites? Everyone was very friendly, but really tired. A little slap happy, maybe? :P

We met up with a lot of people -- >

This pic was after the security people moved us away from our gate, in order to set up the extra security checkpoint that Israel apparently requires. None of us were any too upset about an extra layer of security!

While we were waiting, Tony Robinson got out his guitar and the CG group serenaded the airport with Hava Nagilah; Hine Ma Tov; and one of Tony's songs, Simchat Torah. There were a lot of Jews around, and pretty much all of them came over to listen while we were singing. Even the security guards were clapping by the end. It was great. :D

We went through security again after that. It was really interesting to see the Jewish men davening and praying in the airport, just in this clump off to the side. Holly, one of the other young adults on the trip, said that she wanted to take some video for a montage, but wasn't sure if that was okay. I wanted to, too, but ditto. :(

After security, we queued up again in another line to check passports. Then we waited for a while. And then we lined up again to actually get on the plane. Apparently once they checked our boarding passes and we were on our way into the plane, we weren't technically on American soil anymore. We had left the country without doing anything!

Once on the plane, we sat down. I was about four rows back from Janell and Mom, but I got lucky because instead of sitting between two fairly large men (like on my second flight), I got to sit next to a very nice young Hasidic woman with her daughter (18 mos. maybe), and the grandma (who was totally the stereotypical Yiddish grandma -- Jersey accent and all!). I would have rather sit with Mom and Janell, but as substitutes go, I had a good row. The baby was cute, and did pretty well through most of the trip, surprisingly. Much better than I would have done only a few years ago.

I honestly thought that trip would never end. We left Newark/New York about midnight, and I got some pics of the lit skyline on my phone's camera, but I can't get those onto my computer until I get home. We ate dinner and then they dimmed the lights. Our entertainment system wasn't working (so they offered to accomodate anyone who didn't want to take this flight anymore!!), so we basically just tried to sleep. I was able to nap on and off, but once we cleared the Atlantic, I spent a lot of the time with my blanket over my head, looking out the window at Spain, France, Italy, Greece, etc. I got to see the Pyrenees Mountains at about 3 am (Dawn came at like 1.30 or 2) and got pictures of them. The foothills were kind of cool -- they reminded me of brownie tops -- how the crust is lighter brown and bumpy.

I think one of the things I will never forget is how the Captain said over the loudspeaker, "If you wish to daven, please go to the back of the plane." And after that, there was always 3 or 4 men in the back praying through most of the flight. It was pretty cool to just see them getting on with their prayers even in the middle of this ridiculously long flight.

When we finally got into Tel Aviv, we deplaned and walked to get our passports stamped, then got our baggage and waltzed through customs, to find Joan. Then we were hustled to our bus, to get into Merhavya before Shimon Perez (the Israeli PM) showed up for Merhavya's 100th Anniversary celebration that night. That was a rush -- 24 hours of traveling, only to be shooed to change into something else, get dinner, and then watch the celebration. Mom, Janell, and I watched for a while and then basically crashed, because we didn't understand any of the Hebrew and were tired (for some odd reason).

Side note: I learned that Merhavya was the first kibbutz in Israel, before Israel was even a state. It hosted Golda Meir (former PM of Israel, who grew up in Milwaukee, WI, which I knew). It is now a moshav rather than a kibbutz. A kibbutz is essentially a commune, with property shared in common and wages paid to everyone equally. A moshav is more like a community -- everyone is financially independent and is paid according to how much they work, but the homes are grouped together and people go to synagoguge together, gather together, etc.

Some of the pictures from our bus trip from Tel Aviv to Afula (where Merhavya is located):

This one is on the Yitzhak Rabin Highway. Not really sure what else it is. But it's pretty...

<== This one is what Boaz Dryer (our tour guide) dubbed a "Holyland Traffic Jam." :P

Some Israeli agriculture (along with a town!).

A wheat field -- it's being harvested!

Where we were going.

I know Mom just posted something about today, so I'll look at that and then I'll update this was today when I get time -- prolly tomorrow, along with some stuff that we did tomorrow. We're going to Jerusalem for Pentecost, I know that, but not much else besides that. :) Now, I am going to BED, hopefully to sleep.

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