A brief adventure away from Hava ve Adam became an adventure through some of the most beautiful landscapes between Jerusalem and Eilat. I found myself in a crew guiding around 160 bikers on this journey. Though not a very quick trip, time moved so differently than time on the farm. Working with the Arava Institute again also brought up many good memories.
In particular I was reminded of last spring when I attended a conference for the alumni of the Arava Institute. Nestled at the end of the spring break from my final year of college I wasn’t sure what to expect. After a stressful drive through the streets of Boston I found parking close to my friends house and used the T to get to the hotel where the conference was hosted. To introduce the situation I found myself in. Picture this, I was wearing orange cords, black cotton tee shirt, an old cashmere sweater and my hiking boots. I guess I could have worn some nicer looking shoes but it was late winter/very early spring, cold and slushy so the I feel the boots were justified. When I arrived at the hotel in the middle of Boston I noticed three things: a man in a suit that opening the door for new arrivals, groups of 30y/o dressed in button up shirts, slinky dresses and heels, and a sign next to the door saying something along the lines of “If you are dressed inappropriately the hotel staff reserves the right to ask you to leave”. With this in mind I hunched my shoulders and snuck into the hotel, hoping that none of the staff would notice my slightly grungy appearance.
Once inside the hotel the feeling of being out of place only grew. My outfit, that that morning seemed appropriate for the weather seemed very clumsy in comparison of the spaghetti strap dresses and heels. I checked the email for the location of the event at this hotel. From the entrance I could see up five stories or so to the roof; each floor, packed with people, were like wrap around porches around the open center of the building. When I arrived at the second floor I was dismayed to find that there were several parties going on an I had no idea how to find the one I was looking for. For around 15 minutes I walked in circles around the second floor until someone, I believe Manar, touched my shoulder and asked me if I was looking for the AIES conference. With closer observation her outfit was slightly more casual than the other young folks I saw. With a sigh of relief I followed her back to the corner filled with Arava alumni who were certainly dressed closer to me than the other patrons of this hotel. Though I recognized very few of the alumni there a very familiar energy permeated this group. I felt an immediate welcome.
Now, many months later, I have found this community again. This time during the bike ride from Jerusalem to Eilat that I worked logistics for. From Oct. 26-Nov 2 I worked with a fabulous crew made up mostly of Arava alum and some great folks from outside of the institute as well.
Picture this: a large savanna van. 3 (sometimes just 2 of us, we lost Maram to the water truck!) driving up and down the rows of riders to sweep roads, set up pit stops with snacks and water or direct the bikers in the right direction. Only thought I lost a couple of bikers once, the helpful/not helpful cops decided to redirect my riders at one point but thankfully they didn’t send them too far off course and everyone got to the right place eventually.
This job had to be one of the most fun jobs I have ever had. Despite long hours (~5am to ~9:30pm) the crew of people I had the honor to work with made light of whatever jobs we were assigned. Even on those days where it was stop and go work (pretty much every day) and we had to assemble and disassemble bike racks 3 times I have never been around a group whose energy stayed positive no matter how tired or stressed. I just want to thank everyone for the great adventure!