I left off shortly after my arrival in a country in which I knew nothing of the language or even the alphabet; if I got lost here it would be very hard to get back! Not true, as I soon found out in the streets of Ra’anana and from my cousins that most of the people in this area can speak English and even odder in some sense, French. When I first set out on this journey I was under no impression that I would get to practice the only language other then English that I am semi-proficient in. Ra’anana in particular is home to many people from all over, so there was quite a plethora of languages.
Besides this, I would have to say the first thing I noticed was the birds. In particular I was fascinated by these little green birds that would hop around the sparse patches of grass. I don’t know if it was an evolutionary trait but they blended in with the greenery so well that you mostly saw them when they moved. I later came to understand that they were rose-ringed parakeets and though I do not believe that Israel is their original habitat, they seem to thrive quite nicely here in the north of the country.
Once arriving in Israel and recovering from my jet lag, I had to find the group of people with whom I was to spend the next four months with. This required first finding the train station (thank you Moshe!) and then my group. Getting to a place with two large suitcases a backpack and a violin in tow, is never easy, especially when you are trying to meet up with said group of people you have never seen. Nonetheless, everything went quite easy with the help of my cousins to find the group of people who would become my peers as I began this new endeavor at the Arava Institute.
As with any first meetings we talk about where we are from, what our name is, how old we are, and how our trip to Israel was. This happens several times as we manage to repeatedly forget each others names. For that first day, however, I think that was enough, and we smiled and nodded a lot, as soon as we realized that we had already asked one particular person the same question two times previously.
Skipping forward a few weeks:
We have now been on the Kibbutz nearly a month! It is crazy to think about. Even after my few days in Ra’anana I feel like I have been in a different world. I would have to say my first impression of this hyper-arid desert is, where are all the trees?!? Some of you may be laughing at me in this moment because it’s a desert, what was I expecting? Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. It was quite shocking to come here because my natural impression of nature and beauty revolves around large and long stretches of green trees, green mountains and piles of snow. It was a mind turning experience that is hard to explain.
I have been thinking a lot the past few years about how we can better interact with the planet around us. How can we live in a way that builds up the resources we need, as humans, to survive. I have read and talked to people about the trajectory we humans are taking and how this might be able to fit into a renewable future. As I further investigate this area I have, for the moment, come to the conclusion that in the way we are moving today will not lead us to a positive or healthy future. The only way I have seen for the future is some kind of change in view of how we live on this planet, some sort of reset on how we view the world as our home.
This, on a small scale, is the change in my mindset as I came into the desert.
Starting two weeks ago I have become part of a new tradition with some of the folks here. It turns out that some of these people are just as crazy as I am and decide that it is logical to wake up at 6 am and take a hike. Since the area is so open, we stumble out of bed, wander out of the back gate of the kibbutz, and head off in a random direction.
In these early morning hikes I have felt most alive. The weather here, which for a reference to the NE America, feels a mix between the dry part of spring and mid-summer. In the early morning we have a breeze the alleviates the feeling of having our skin slowly roasted on a spit. Even after minimal amounts of sleep, climbing the rocks in the early morning feels like some sort of epic adventure, especially when we look back down the path we took up and thinking, “how the hell are we going to get back down?” Paths here are hard to see and hard to follow, everything here is rock!
For fear of making this post so long that no one will make it to the end, I will stop for now. Since finalizing my choices for classes I am no longer taking eight classes a week and will (hopefully) have more time to write. I appreciate any of you who make it this far, and hopefully I will go into more detail of the beauty of that is here, in the Arava valley. Please send any questions, I will add to my next post!