Day 15 - Lebanon Border, Hiking and Bike Riding in the Golan (Lehava)
We started the day with an early start, waking up at 6:15 in order to get ready for a busy day we had awaiting us. After an hour and a half bus ride we got off the bus ready to start a hike. It was amazing to experience and take in the atmosphere of the forest as we passed by waterfalls and admired the nature that we were surrounded by. This 'nature walk' gave us insight into the life of Israelies and how hiking and nature is embedded into their everyday lives from a young age.
We then got onto the bus and went to a kibbutz called Misgav-Am that is located on the Lebanon border and listened to a war veteran who lives in the kibbutz, Ariyeh. His views were controversial to our daily life and opened up my eyes to the way in which some people view life and the conflicts and issues within Israel. His passion and belief in the state of Israel drove him to make Aliyah to Israel from America and after serving in the army and taking part in multiple wars, including the 6 Day War he decided to move to the kibbutz. There was a sarcastic manner about the man and his answers were blunt and straight to the point. He talked about how important it is to fend for yourself and protect the Jewish people before anyone else. It is for this reason he feels comfortable living on the border. He also emphasised the fact that he doesn't hold hatred towards the people who hate the Jews and the state of Israel but he dislikes those who compromise his security. Although his views were controversial to what we have been brought up to believe, all of his views on life and of the state of Israel were justified by what he has gone through in his life, enduring 6 wars and terrorist attacks. After the talk finished, we took in the view of both Lebanon and Syria in the distance.
Soon we got back onto the bus and headed to a spot where we ate lunch (falafel!) and met up with bus 3. After the hike and the talk, this break to relax with friends felt heavenly. After a half hour break we got back on the bus and headed to the Chula valley to go bike riding! Once we arrived, we grabbed a bike and helmet, split up into 2 different groups and rode off into the distance. We stopped every now and then so the tour guide could give us an explanation about where we were and the significance of it. I will never forget the serenity of riding fast with the wind brushing past my face and looking out to my right to see the silhouette of land in the distance, small animals running around, the sun starting to set and the sky reflecting against the clear water. It was a moment I was glad to experience with all my friends and something you would never be able to find in Sydney.
Following the bike ride, we headed back onto the bus for a 3 hour bus ride to Jerusalem, arrived at the hotel at 8:30, ate dinner and got ready for another amazing day of IST.
By Kayla Gelman