December 25, 2013
Today was our second day in Israel's Southern most city, the magnificent holiday destination of Eilat. We woke up to the glorious sun rays protuding through our curtains as we quickly packed in high anticipation for a day we would never forget. I myself couldn't control my excitement for the jam packed day ahead of us.All dressed in our bathers, we boarded the buses and travelled to the coral beach nature reserve - Hof Almog- the only coral reef in Israel. We departed the bus, retrieved our snorkelling gear, and what we saw was truly breathtaking. The dark rocky sand was not comparable with the beautiful sand we have in the land down under, however the water was nothing like I have ever seen. The Red Sea was a tranquil, translucent blue like nowhere else in the world, framed by the picturesque mountains of Jordan in the background. Trying on my snorkel, I could not wait to see the world that lay beneath the surface of the Red Sea.
We heard a quick demonstration of how to behave in the coral reef for our own safety and to preserve this incredible gift of nature before separating boys from girls and entering the water with our guides in groups of 10. To our delight the water temperature was actually warmer than outside. I dunked my head into the water and opened my eyes and experienced a unique feeling of bewilderment. Underneath the water felt like being on a completely different planet. The diversity and abundance of life and colour was incredible. Being an animal enthusiast myself I was in awe of all the different species of fish and coral this reef had to offer. I was so intrigued by the beauty of the sea that I didn't realise I was holding up my group that were 30 metres ahead.Eventually it was time to swap with the girls who were relaxing on the beach. The boys all lay out chairs and kicked back in the sun with our sunnies and we ate pizza. While chilling on the beach , I thought to myself after being in Poland, who would of thought 70 years ago that the Jewish people would have their own state let alone be able to enjoy the luxury of snorkelling next to their own coral reef.
It made me appreciate my surroundings even more than before. We left the nature reserve and travelled to a location in the desert to what we thought was 'sandboarding'.We all found cardboard in a nearby rubbish tip, however, little did we know that this was actually not the greatest idea. When we reached the steep sandy outlook it was daunting at first as there were rocks that would kindly meet us at the bottom of the slope. Many of us thought that on our cardboard we would gracefully slide down, however the cardboard did not move at all. Instead we all rumbled, tumbled, and rolled down the sand dunes using our own force. Once at the bottom of the epic dune, it was a major struggle reaching the top again as our feet sunk into the incredibly soft sand. The boys attempted more dangerous stunts down the dunes while the girls were far more sensible and cautious. As the sun started to set, the entire IST including madrichim and teachers managed to form the IST 13 logo by lying in the sand dunes. This was a moment that will be etched in all of our minds as a highlight of the trip.
It was time to head back to the buses awaiting us as our day was not over yet. We were given an hour and a half to explore the main boardwalk of Eilat. Some of the more daring thrill-seekers including myself decided to go on the fireball ride. With Jake Shofer beside me, we were shot up into the air at the speed of light while spinning in all directions at the same time. There was a camera in the ride giving everyone below a view of our hilarious reactions. It was incredibly fun and gave us all a huge adrenalin rush that left us still buzzing afterwards. Unfortunately it was time for this amazing day to end and exhausted we all walked back to our hotel. Our second day in Eilat for myself and many others was one of the many highlights of this incredible trip. It made us treasure the beauty ofnature and Israel's diverse landscape. As well as being one of the funnest days ever, it also let us appreciate how lucky we are to be able to have these experiences.