After quitting University rather impulsively and flying to Israel I found out about the Walk About Love. An amazing 100 day journey of a 1000km across Israel. We slept on the shore of four seas, went to the lowest point on earth and conquered the highest mountain in Israel. Above all I made life long friends.

Luckily I kept a journal and tried to write down everything that happened. Reading through all this again afterwards I realised that is doesn’t nearly to the real deal justice, but at least I will remember some of the incidents that changed my life. Here is a full account of my experience from Day 21 when I met up with the Walk About Love up to my return flight to South Africa.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The route

Day 21: ***Notice*** We’ve moved to the Migdalor Beach in south Eilat !!

Despite the fact the we went to bed two hours earlier, we still managed to sleep until 12:00.

We ate pancakes for the third time reducing the cost per person per meal to a mere 10 Shekels. About R4 per pancake, about the same you would pay at a South African bazaar, come to think of it.

We greeted Shoval with some confusion, we forgot to tell her that we were leaving today, but it in the end it was all good. We thanked her for everything and invited her to come to South Africa. I had mixed feelings about leaving a bed behind knowing that for the next 82 days I would have to sleep on the ground without a mattress.

We were on our way to the North beach to hopefully find the gathering. Luckily I had the sense to convince Marleen to call them, because they moved to Migdalor on the South Beach. We took bus no 15 and finally after exactly three weeks we were greeted with a loud cheer and drum beat. We were home at last.

The group was divided between Israelis with dreadlocks and Germans who would soon have dreadlocks. It seems that the Germans are doing a peace walk of their own. Everyone seems nice, even the American with her characteristic American voice.

A trio of starch was served for dinner: Spaghetti with potatoes and pita, a traditional thin Bedouin bread with spices. Arak, their national drink, was also served with a heavy hand.

We went to sleep on the straw mats provided under a big open tent with the sound of drums that lulled us to sleep.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 22: Let’s make a circle

We woke with the break of dawn, but kept on ‘sleeping’ until we were the lasts once lying down, just in time for breakfast. I would have liked to describe it, but I have no idea what it was or more important what was in it. The texture and colour were that of Matabela pap that was watered down and mixed with almonds, raisins and other fruity/nutty substances.

Shortly after we made our first circle (of love?) and everyone introduced themselves. 6 crew members and about 16 walkers at that stage, with more arriving every now and then. 30 minutes was dedicated to explaing how to “what do you say in english? …shiiit”. Daar is met groot moeite verduidelik dat daar onder geen omstandighede toiletpapier gebruik mag word nie. Jy moet jou regter, nee linkerhand (want jy eet met jou regterhand) gebruik om jouself af te vee en dan dit met jou bottel “shit water” af te was.
Yellow rice with “colourful stuff” in it was served for lunch, with everyone sitting in a circle around the pots. I tried to eat the salad consisting of cucumber and cabbage, but could only manage the cumcumber. The rice however was delicious, complements to the “rice king” as he was dubbed.

When I came back from the restaurant where I sat for a few hours working on the blog a few more walkers arrived. Urri, who were going to marry Sarah in Papa New Gunia, was dressed in Black and white. They decided to move the wedding to this night. The time finally came and with everyone gathered around the fire they said their vows. They had a Jewish rabbi and Marleen to bind them in holy matramony. After more singing and dancing we had another Spaghetti dinner.

The music from the trance party started at 20:00 but people only started going at 11 o’clock. The dreadlocked people dancing like zombies with the desert mountains in the background was like a mixture between a an apocalyptic scene and histories getting mixed up with people from biblical times dancing on trance music. I went to lay down (aka try to sleep) at about 3, but stayed up all night listening to loud “body vibrating” music until the sun came up.

Saturday, March 24, 2012
Day 23 Pizza overload
I tried to catch up on some sleep, but the sun had other plans. Finally I gave in and went to help with breakfast. Some kind of maize with oranges, strawberries and dates. At the same time we started making pizzas in a gas pizza oven and for the next 5 hours pizza was served as it came out of the oven.

I took Vera from Germany to the coral cave that we found the previous time me and Marleen were on the South Beach. For the rest of the day I did what everyone else did. Lie around, sit in circles making random conversation, write something, read something and just relaxing.

We keep to the tradition of Shabbat and all the food for tonight, tommorrow morning and lunch needs to be prepared before sunset so that we can just rest until sunset tommorrow.

Shabbat arrived and all the women made a circle and lit candle for Shabbat Shalom or something secretive. A concert lasting almost all night started after a rice and stew dinner. I met Paula, the American girl I met in Jordan, again and we talked around the fire until past midnight. At 22:00 some more pizza were served more than 12 hours after the first pizza.

I went to sleep again with a duf duf, but this time from drums and not humungus speakers.

Saturday, March 24, 2012
Day 24 Last visit to Eilat
At 02:00 in the morning Marleen came to wake me. Liran decided come and say hello at this time in Morning. After a quick conversation I was glad to be back in my sleeping bag until 09:00 in the morning.

After the worst breakfast ever, with black eggs being the only breakfast like food. The rest was inedible and might have had potatoes, beans and a lot of other things, of which I don’t even know the name, in it.

Four of us: Vera, Bram, Oriki and me hitch hiked to Eilat planning on buying mattresses and few other things. After hours of walking we came back with a taxi without any matrasses. We stopped at a nice beach to snorkel. I nearly died from exhaustion, because I’m not a good swimmer and we swam almost a kilometer.

Back at the beach restaurant there was free WiFi so I could upload this and we had French fries. And now I’m typing this sentence so this is as live as my blog could possibly get.

Friday, March 30, 2012
Walk About Love Day 1 – 5

Signature black and white mountains

The first day of hiking finally arrived. After quitting University flying to Israel trying to volunteer in a Kibbutz, finding out about the walk about love, waiting for two weeks and joining them on the South Beach for 5 days we finally started to walk.

We walked to the Egyptian border from where we started with a climb into the desert mountains. Soon we could see the red sea from above with Egypt to the right, Saudi Arabia to the right front, Jordan in front of us and the rest of Israel to the left.

The last five days of walking was all through the desert, but the scenery still changed every few kilometers. We climbed mountains, walked through narrow valleys, over vast rock plains, in dry river beds and rested a lot. One of the highlights was the saddle between the white and black mountain which apparantly differs 500 million years in age.

The camp set-up has been the same during the week with straw mats around the fire. Only at weekend camps there’s a big tent. In the morning I would wake up with reggae music made by Daniel on the guitar and Urri on the drums and an occasional Digiridoo. After packing up breakfast is served. It’s always the same porridge but with things added to it: fresh bananas, dry bananas, almonds, cinnamon, strawberries, dates and oranges.

After washing your Tupperware, used for all meals, the lunch rice with pita is dished up with a selection of fruits and vegetables. I’m slowly converting from meatarian to vegetarian, but more out of pure survival instincts than free will. The first few nights there was some starch like pasta or couscous with vegetables in which case I could skip it, but on Wednesday evening there was only vegetable soup with life size pieces of carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and something else I couldn’t eat. Today for lunch I took a cucumber, tomato, apple, banana and orange from the fruits basket for lunch. I really surprised myself by actually eating all of it.

After long two hour lunch breaks I would walk with Vera all the way to the camp in one stretch without resting. As a result some people would only arrive up to two hours after us. In this time I clear out a patch to sleep on and dig a hole for my hip to make the hard surface a wee bit more comfortable. Still sleeping hasn’t been easy due to the cold dessert nights and the absence of a mattress.

I’ve also learned some hippie slang. If you want something you say for example “cigarette connection” instead of “Does somebody have a cigarette for me?”. As a hippy nobody has responsibilities so instead of asking who will be responsible for serving the breakfast, you ask who wants to be the breakfast focalizer (derived from the fact that the person needs to focus on the breakfast?). Another thing you here a lot with a strong Israeli accent is: “And remember it is very important to hug each other”. “Focus everybody! Listen here”

We just arrived (16:30, Thursday) to the camp that we are going to stay at until Sunday. The five days of went by quickly much quicker than a traditional 5 day hike, probably due to the fact that in the back of your head you now there is still 80 days to go.

Despite the fact that most of the above might sound negative, I’m really enjoying the walk and learning so much from my fellow walkers from all over the world, taking notes and getting ideas for what to do with the rest of my life. I am looking forward to the rest of the walk.

Friday, April 6, 2012
First weekend

Shaharut weekend camp

The weekend started with a strong wind trying to prevent us from putting up the weekend tent, but we finished just before the rain came not that the beautiful home made tent was waterproof, but at east we could think that we are safe inside. At one the stage the wind was so strong that we had to make turns to hold the tent poles upright. Later we learned that the rain was more of a miracle than an inconvenience because it only rains once or twice in the dessert a year if at all.

Everyone was tired from the five long hiking days and went to bed quiet early except for the regular Arak drinking circle around the fire.

Friday was washing day, both clothing and bodies. I only had two pairs of socks and a shirt to wash. The water ran out rather quickly and then we had to wait for the trailer to go and get more water from a nearby farm. All the food was prepared for the Shabbat that starts at sunset. After dinner Bram opened the Shabbat concert with some magic tricks. After cutting and magically fixing ropes, making things disappear and reappear and stacking dices with a cup the Walk About Love band entertained us for a few hours. After Urri and Vir’s bedtime story I went to sleep while the festivities moved to the fire. “Once upon a time in the middle of the dessert with no sand, no nothing, me and my friend Boker Tov (Hebrew for good morning) saw something.” “What did they see? A Camel?” “No, not a Camel, it was the DBF (later turned out to be a Desert Blue Fish)!” pause “Once upon a time in the middle of a forest with no trees, no nothing, me and my friend Boker Tov saw something.” “The DBF?” “No, not the DBF, it was the Strödel Schnitzel!” Don’t try to make sense of the story, but imagine it being really funny at the time.

On Saturday we are suppose to do nothing, but some people did some more washing. Vera and me went for a walk after our lentil and black egg brunch that was prepared the previous day. I just ate salad, which says a lot about the food. We walked to a nearby community that felt like a ghost town because everyone was inside resting. Suddenly a dog started chasinig us so we decided it is time to go back.

Carrol started making a cake for Gabe’s birthday and I joined in. In consisted of a layer of oranges, tahina, chocolate and sugar sauce topped with peanuts and raisins. A lot of people claimed it was the best cake of their lives.

Later I continued to read Extremely loud and incredibly close which I started reading just before I came Israel. I finished the book in a few very emotional hours.

Quiet a few people left the group and new ones arrived. We had lots of time to rest and to get to know each other better and now I’m ready for another week of hiking.

Friday, April 6, 2012
Walk About Love Day 8 – 12

Protection from the sun

Sondag se stap het redelik laat begin omdat ons al die tent goed moes oppak. Die stap self was kort en reguit. Dit het egter onaangenaam begin word toe die wind opkom. Asof dit nie erg genoeg is, is die kamplek reg onder duine wat blykbaar die wêreld se fynste sand bevat gelê. Ons het probeer om skuiling teen die wind en sand te bou, maar dit was tevergeefs. Selfs my tent wat ons binne die skuiling opgeslaan het dinge net vererger deur as ‘n sif te dien en nog fyner sand deur te laat wat orals inkom.

Terselfde tyd begin ek bietjie verkoue voel en my mond is vol sere van groete skok of allergie. Wonder bo wonder word aandete bedien sonder sand in dit. Groente is gelukkig in ‘n ander pot bedien en ek kon skoon pasta eet met chilli sous.

Die kampplek is naby ‘n weermag basis gebou en daar het ‘n paar keer ‘n helikoper raak afstand bo ons verby gevlieg dat mens net die ligte kan sien deur die sand storm. Teen elfuur het die wind gaan lê, maar alles was steeds vol sand en ons tent vol gate van die vuur se vonke.

Maandag word ons wakker met ‘n mooi windstil sonskyn dag en alles vol sand en as. Shanti, shanti word daar die heeltyd vir ons gesê. Vandag gaan ons met ‘n bus ry vir ‘n stuk om te vermy dat ons raakgeskiet word. Terwyl ons vir die bus wag gaan speel ons in die duine.

Die tintolit (hebreeus vir wakkel ding, die bus is ‘n trok met sitplekke agterin.) daag uiteindelik op en neem ons verby die weermag se oefen basis. Langs die pad sien ons honderde tenks wat oor allerhande obstruksies jaag, nagemaakte dorpies, teikens en soldate wat op aandag staan. ‘n Paar kilometer verder laai die bus ons af in ‘n droë rivierloop. Ons neem met ‘n swaar gemoed afskeid van Urri en Sarah.

Na ‘n kilometer breuk ons vir middagete en Usher verras ons met blikkies kos (bakebeans, mielies en gherkins) wat ons verorber het asof dit soetkoek is. Na elke dag se rys middagete was dit ‘n welkome afwisseling. 4km verder het ons by die kamp gekom waar twee droërivierlope bymekaar kom.

Elke nou en dan vlieg daar ‘n vegter vliegtuig verby en bom skuddings kan gevoel word. Die Israeli’s verseker ons dat dit net oefening is.

Nuwe mense sluit aan en bring sjokolade smeer, almal spring op en bestorm die bak soos aasvoëls om bietjie sjokolade te kry. Later die aand speel ek kaart saam met die nuwe mense. Dit word kodu genoem of so iets en behels dink werk en geheur so ek het baie daarvan gehou.

Israel National Trail marking that we followed most of the way

Aandete was cous cous en groente en tot my geluk kon ek weer die groete skip en skoon cous cous eet met suiker.

Dinsdagoggend kry ons vir die eerste keer ‘n nuwe ontbyt wat soos ProNutro lyk, maar mens kook dit in ‘n pot en hulle noem dit polenta. Vir middagete is daar geen rys, slegs pita en vrugte.

Na ‘n lang stap in ‘n groot oop vallei bevind ons, onsself in ‘n nou skeur wat mens slegs met behulp van lere en toue kan deurkom tot by die bo punt. Vandaar het ons weer lank op ‘n jeeptrack gestap. Ek het vir die eerste keer probeer om by Marleen te hou. Na amper 7km kom ons weer by ‘n skeur uit wat ons moet afgaan met behulp van nog langer lere.

Dit was al skemer en ons het nog 5km gehad om te gaan. My voete was nog nooit so seer van stap nie. In die donker het dit gevoel of die pad nooit ophou nie, maar uiteindelik kon ek die dromme hoor en begin hardloop. Die heerlikste Chai tee het vir my gestaan en wag. Sommige mense was al by die kamp vir ure en ander en selfs nog later as ek gekom.

Ek was so honger dat ek die aandete geëet het sonder om enige iets uit te soek. Van wat ek kom proe was daar noodles, aartappels, lentils, boontjies, wortels en ander goed in.

In die nag het ek vreeslike hoesaanvalle gekry, maar teen woensdagoggrmd was dit weer beter. Ons moes vroeg begin, want dit was nog ‘n lang dag al was die pad taamlik reguit. Dit is 4×4 wêreld en by een plek was daar ‘n stuk wat selfs vir mense wat handeviervoet loop moeilik is, maar daar is duidelike spore van 4×4’s wat daar uit is.

Ek het met Gabe loop en gesels, hy het al ‘n hele paar long distance trails gedoen deur Amerika en ander plekke in die wêreld. Hy het die voorstel gemaak dat ek dalk ‘n deel van die roete op my eie moet doen sodat ek kan ervaar hoe dit is om alles self te dra en ander stappers wat alleen stap te ontmoet. Dit klink nogal aanloklik, maar vir die volgende paar weke in die woestyn sal ek nog by die groep bly.

My hoes het erger geword en om te slaap neem ek toe ‘n slaappil asook ‘n pil in die oggend om slym op te droog. Vir ‘n tyd lank kon ek amper nie eens my liggaam beweeg nie en het soos die ou in Awake gevoel.

Donderdag se stap was weer kort en maklik al met ‘n jeeptrack langs, dit was egter verskriklik warm. Wat ‘n verrassing toe ons by Sappir aankom en daar is ‘n poel waarin ons kon swem.

Na die swem het ek op my eie Babylon mission gegaan na die McDonalds om my eposse te lees vir die eerste keer in 2 weke. Ek kon myself egter nie keer nie en toe ek weer besef wat ek doen het ek 1.5 liter sjokolade melk gedrink, ‘n R40 se nutella sjokolade en kaaskoek sugarcone roomys geëet, twee cheesburgers van McDonalds, french fries en chicken nuggets en ‘n pakkie groen doritos.

Saturday, April 7, 2012
2nd Weekend: Pessah

Lake Sappir

After my Babylon excursions I had some of the dinner as well. I went to bed early because I wasn’t feeling so good, but was awake until one o’clock when I stood up, took some pictures in the almost full moon, tried to throw up, but didn’t succeed and finally deciding to take another sleeping pill.

The sun woke me and after another polenta breakfast I tried to hide in the shade and get some more sleep, but everywhere was unpleasant. I went for another swim and then tried to sleep again without success. I finally gave up and started typing this.

24 hours later…

Last night was quiet interesting. The celebration only started at about 8 long after sunset. Quiet a few people who didn’t walk with us joined the celebration including two Jewish South Africans. The guy sat next to me and assured me that the way the Walk About Love celebrated Pessah should be taken with a pinch of salt.

We did however eat Matze, the dry bead without yeast. Lettuce, because it’s from the ground? Red wassabi like thing, because the Jews went through tough times; and something sweet and brown with fruit in it that resembles the promised land that they reached after 40 years in the dessert. All this was explained to some extent and Jewish songs were sung as well as a song from the last prophet, as they called him, the one and only Bob Marley.

After skipping most of the traditional Pessah traditions we ate the main course which entitled Chicken! Through the whole event a minimum of 5 glasses of wine and to be drunk for all the blessings, but most people had a lot more and the festivities wwent on until the early morning hours. Unfortunately I was still not feeling well and went to bed after dinner.

Today consisted of binge eating. From the moment that I woke up at aout 8 until 12:30 I saw people sitting around the pots eating leftovers from last night as well as Kosher for Pessah cake, chips, cookies and bread.

After that everyone moved to the shade near the lake which was a bit cooler. There the snacking and drinking continued. Marleen cleverly came up with the idea of making Sangria, which I guess is Kosher for Pessah as well, because nobody objected.

I borrowed Gabe’s Trail guide of Israel and I’m starting to think that I should really try a do a part of the trail on my own.

I just went to McDonalds to update the blog and then I decided to try a Kosher for Pessah burger. The bread was a bit funny but it still tasted like McDonalds which isn’t necessarily good.

Until next time, enjoy the rest of the weekend, we start the week on Sunday, and next week.

Thursday, April 12, 2012
Walk About Love Day 15 – 18

The mountains and valleys that we crossed this week

This was a really shanti week of hiking. We only hiked for 4 days and only Tuesday’s trail was longer than 10km.

We started really late on Sunday from Lake Sappir, after taking a compulsory dip in the lake and having a extended morning circle and welcoming of a lot of new hikers. 6 Hikers including Marleen and Vera left us for the week to go to a Rainbow Gathering.

The trail took us West into the ‘heart of dessert’ as Gal described it, although Gabe is still looking for the heart. We crossed two mountains, two valleys and made camp in the third dry river. Before going to we had a stop in the top of the mountain before going to camp, it was one of those views that not even J.R.R Tolkien could describe or a Canon D60 could capture.

There was also incredible cracks in the plato that you can go into to cool down from the scorching sun, typical to my behaviour I jumped over one of the cracks and someone took a picture from below at the exact second that I was flying over the crack.

My coughing is still not cured and on Sunday night I woke up at 01:00 in the morning from a cough fit, so I went to sleep far away from the group in order not to disturb them.

Jumping over one of the cracks

Monday morning almost turned into a disaster due to the lack of sugar. Gabe saved my day with supplying some of us with honey.

Today’s hike consisted of a constant uphill for most of the 9km, so we had plenty of time and made a break under every single piece of shade until we reached the highest point with another amazing view over the valley. At lunch there was a discussion about medical Marijuana and how it is becoming more popular all over the world.

Just before going down the mountain I lied down and imagined how I was going to run down it. Then I started day dreaming about going to every faculty at Stellenbosch University and go to as many different classes as possible. When I ‘woke up’ I was at the bottom of the mountain I had no idea how I got there.

After a short walk in the valley we camped in another dry river. There were a lot of other campers as well, probably due to the fact that it was in the holiday. I slept in one of trailers from the beginning to hide from the wind and to hide my coughing from everyone.

Tuesday morning we had sugar again and the Polenta was edible again. We started walking after playing around at a dry waterfall close to the camp. Today is the longest hike and also the toughest with a lot of ups and downs. Despite this we stayed a our lunch spot under a Acaccia tree for 2 hours and then a scorpion stung Gal. After much confusing and a mixture of jokes and panic it was decided that he will live and that we can continue walking. He had 3km to go to a road where the 4×4 can pick him up. We however still had 12 km to go and only started after 16:00.

We got to the cock’s comb (mountain formation) and looked out over Israel’s most famous natural landmark, Maktesh Ramon, which is wrongly translated to Ramon Crater, late afternoon. Someone explained the fenomenon as a sweetie pie of which the marshmallow bit was taken out through a hole and the when it got hollow the hard chocolate layer collapsed and formed something that looks like a crater. The more scientific explanation is that 160 million years ago there used to be a sea and over the years a mountain formed from all the fossil deposits from dead fish. The sea was coming and going every few million years and the last time it was there the fossil layer that formed was really hard from the lack of oxygen. After that about 60 million years ago when it was already a dessert, but with a river, the river started calving out the soft inner layers and taking it to the dead sea. Eventually the mountain crumbled in a left a huge 42km crater in a heart form with cliffs all around. It really is one of the most amazing things that I have ever seen.

Our only refuge from the sun

From there we still had 5 km to go and it was already dusk. Walking in the night turned out to be a great experience. At the camp I went to bed after another vegetable only dinner. I only found out the next morning that the reason for the pasta and oats absence is that it’s not Kosher for Pesah and you have to eat kosher for the whole week after Pesah.

Rea gave me an extra sleeping bag and put some straw matts over me. For the first time I didn’t freeze at 5 in the morning, but I did wake up at 02:00 with my by now regular cough and a sweat.

Wednesday we had the shortest hike of the Walk so far. We went up a small hill with a nice view of the Maktesh and then we waited for 5 hours next to a road for another Tintolit to take us to the weekend camp and trance party. The bus took us over 80km to the north and then went off the road into the middle of nowhere. At one point we had to get off and walk in the ice cold night for another kilometer where we made camp. All of this happened without any prior information and a lot of hikers were quiet upset about this, including me to some extent. Frankly if I new all of this I would have taken hitch hiked to Jerusalem and do the Jerusalem trial or just stayed in Mitspe Ramon and do some hiking there instead of a semi illegal trance party in a military training zone.

Friday, April 20, 2012
3rd Weekend: Trance festival

The initial location for the Trance Festival

On Thursday morning we woke at 04:00 with the light beams and the sound of iron clashing. Some thought it was an alien invasion or the apocolypse. In the morning we saw a whole community arived and set camp around us with big tents that was put up.

Seven people left in the morning and I again thought of leaving, but decided to stay and see what it is like. We had to move our camp to make space for the stage and throughout the day more and more people arived setting up even bigger tents. Some cops came by and every now and then a rumour spreads that the festival is going to be shut down, but more people kept coming.

The surrounding dessert hills is covered with fired missles and ammonution. Hopefully this practising site isn’t active anymore.

24 hours later…

So our fears became true and we had to move to a new location. Just as the last big tent was set up the first ones were being taken down. Apparantly the practice zone is still active, but the army doesn’t practise on holidays. Still it was an illigal site and we had to move. The process that usually takes us four hours in the morning to take down the tent and pack up everything took us only 30 minutes. We then however had tonwait for another tintolit for an hour and a half.

After a short drive we stopped at a cheap shop and almost bought all of their stock of chocolate, cheese, chips and everything else that we are not used to getting on the walk.

By the time we got to the new location there was already a whole tent village that looked like a refugee camp in the dark with all the fires and eerie hills. There was a lot of confusion about where we are going to sleep and after waiting around someone’s fire and drinking Arak, we walked to a small clearing between the rocks about a kilometer from the party.

All the matrasses filled the opening and we had to sleep tight. Despite this some people still couldn’t sleep from the cold (which was also wet for the first time), luckily I still had the two sleeping bags. Marleen, who came back from the rainbow on Thursday, and me slept on two matrasses next to each other. In the morning we some how woke up about a meter downwards with two people sleeping at our heads and three more next to us on the same matrasses.

The sun got me up this morning and until now 13:40 I just moved with the shade and joined snack eating circles of last nights shopping spree. The trance music started at 4 this morning and some peole like Vera got up and went to dance and are still dancing. Luckily the music is not deafening at our camp but it is still ever present.

6 days later

So the Ipad’s battery died and for some reason the charging station on the car doesn’t work anymore. I’m now in Be’er Sheva in a cafe charging it. Back to the weekend.

I spent the rest of the Friday just laying around until dinner, practising some Hebrew with Daniel from South Africa and Vicky the new German girl. She also gave me the best message ever.

After dinner I just tipped over from where I was eating and slept for a few hours. Around midnight I realised I haven’t even been to the actual festival which was my reason of not going to Jerusalem. So I went alone down the road to yet another apocalyptic seen with strange lights and people dancing unnaturally. After 15 minutes I was at our camp just in time for some improvised hot chocolate. I fell asleep while trying to listnen to 3 conversations around the fire at once.

Saturday morning everything was over after the morning DJ was arrested and everything had to stop. Apparently everyone freaked out and some even started crying. The rest of Saterday was in the same way as the previous nights, just sitting, eating and talking.

After most of the festival goers left some people from the walk went to find everything that stayed behind: backpacks, blankets, camping stoves, shoes and almost anything else. The biggest treasure that was found however was a bag full of How I Met Your Mother sandwiches. So for the rest of the week everyone was eating sandwiches at every break.

By nightfall we were the only ones left where the party with thousands of people used to be. Some hikers left and more joined us for the coming week. All in all it was a good resting weekend and I got some insight into Israeli’s passion for trance.

Friday, April 20, 2012
Walk About Love Day 22 – 26

Lone camel in the dessert

Sunday, we started walking from the festival site, which I only realised this morning was next to the Israel trail, along the tarred road to a McDonalds in front of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From there we turned into the valley and past some ancient nabatean terrashes and up a mountain. From the top we looked down into a green valley for the first time in 3 weeks. What joy when the spring that could possibly have water really had water in it. Enough to jump into the water from the side, I however somehow managed to cut my foot on something in the water.

Vera carried a whole bag of leftover ciapatti with her from the festival as well as a Nutella jar. So after getting a sugar overload we continued walking down the valley to a second even more impressive swimming pool with cliffs surrounding it. It was really special to see such water in the middle of the dessert after not even seeing plants for 3 weeks.

A ranger came by and told us to get moving, because your not allowed to be in the reserve after 17:00 and we still had to walk quiet far to camp. As we got out of the valley and into the next we could see a sandstrom going down the valley we had to go up in. Walking in it wasn’t that bad, but knowing we would most probably have to spent another night in it was.

To cheer us up Lear brought us some Morrocan sweets like moflata and doughnut like things from home. The Morrocans have a big feast after the week of Pessah and only Kosher for Pessah food. I ate 8 moflatas which is like a mix between a pita and a pancake with a lot of honey. Luckily dinner wasn’t good so I didn’t eat any of it.

Typical morning scene

Monday morning everything was full of sand again, but the sky was clear. The trail took us down a shadeless valley all the way to the next camp with not much to see. So I spent most of the day talking to Yamuna about Sudanese refugees and the Walk About Love and how things could be done differently.

At the camp site Oriki took out a jar of Nutella and Bamba and suddenly there was 20 people around it and before I could dip my finger in for a second time it was all gone an everyone left again.

Marleen took the day off to buy shoes and found some fake expensive American version of the worker’s shoes from Tasmania that all the Israelis are wearing. We made a Christmas bed with Vicky and Daniel and 3 layers of blankets. My coughing got better or rather less. I still woke up at about 2 in the morning and saw the milkyway for the first time in my life in the Northern Hemisphere.

Tuesday morning we started early because it is apparantly the hardest day of the trail. The Karbolet (Cock’s Comb) that goes along the edge of the Big Crater or rather Maktesh. While walking we heard the loudest bomb ramblings from military practise yet. We could also see a big Zeplin in the sky that watches over Israel and is located near the Nuclear facility. But other than that the walk and the views were amazing. After going up and down along the ridge all day we decided to take a shortcut a go into the Crater and walk straight to the camp. To get down we sort of slid down a pipeline.

We reached camp by nightfall at the Crater opening. Just as we started making food a school group came to the camp site and set up camp in a very schoolish loud way. In the middle of the night I woke up and felt something in my neck. At first I thought it was part of my body so I didn’t want to pull on it too hard. Then I thought about the new dog and all the ticks and decided to pull it off. It didn’t look like a tick at all but it was stuck like a tick. I saw Daniel was sitting up and so I asked him if I would live and we decided it is safe to go back to sleep. He didn’t feel comfortable sleeping, because a random guy we didn’t know sat at our fire and made himself coffee.

Wednesday morning I was still alive and the guy turned out to be a guard for the school group who started climbing the Karbolet a 5 in the morning a made noises from 4.

We hike out of the crater along the road and then into another valley that started with a collection of springs. We stayed there for a long time even though we barely started walking. In the afternoon we continued into another steep canyon. Halfway down I looked back and saw something that looked like smoke from a distant fire. It was moving fast towards us like a tsunami. The sandstorm covered the sun within seconds and then it started moving down into the valley and before I reached the bottom it was around us.

We still had a long way to go and the sand slowed us down even more. After what felt like hours of walking we had a break just to find out that we still had to climb out of the canyon to get to the night camp. Halfway up a guy was coming down into the valley and as he got to the last person he turned around and joined us. His name is Ran and has he ‘ran’ passed everyone he heard bits about what we are doing and finally decided to join us for the night, walking back with us the way he came.

In the middle of a sand storm

We reached the camp that was in a big open space close to the Zeplin that landed, propably due to the storm. The sandstorm was still going on and with the Zeplin looking like a UFO the atmosphere was somewhat eerie. We managed to put up a windshield and could spent the night without getting too much sand in everything. I accidently sat on Marleen’s ankle at dinner and hurt it quiet badly. Coincidentally or as a result of this Shani invited her to go with her to Tel Aviv for a long weekend and not walking on Thursday.

Thursday was Holocast Memorial day and before we started to walk we made our own siren with a didgeridoo because we couldn’t hear the sirens all over the country for a minute of silence to remember all those who died in the holocaust. Me and Marleen were almost the only one’s who didn’t have a direct connection to it, because all the others were either Jewish (Israelis and some people from other nations) or German. I can only imagine what it must mean to them to now be walking together.

After singing a few sad songs we walked to the small crater, that looks the most like an actual crater caused by impact, went down the one side and out the other end to the weekend camp situated just outside of the crater’s opening.

It has been an amazing week of hiking with everything from water in the dessert to sand storms and craters. I have been with the group for 30 days without any breaks and even though it feels like a lifetime I really look forward to keep going. I decided not to decide on doing anything else for now. That is probably the biggest thing I have learned so far. Do not plan anything. It always works out better if you just do what you feel like in the moment. So if I feel like it at a specific moment I will walk on my own if not I don’t.

Friday, April 20, 2012
4th weekend: Small Crater and Babylon

The dessert hiking group

On Friday morning I decided it is time for my first full body shower, but I couldn’t find a good place so I ended up just washing my hair again. With the first wash the shampoo didn’t even foam at all and the water turned dark brown after rinsing it. So I washed my hair for a second time just to make sure that the shampoo is still working and this time round it did make foam.

Shortly after I heard that Gabe and Vera wants to go to Babylon and I decided to go with them and convinced Vicky to come as well. While packing we saw a tour bus leaving and started running after it. The driver took us to the main road and from there someone pick all four of almost as we got out of the bus. He was on his way to Tel Aviv, so we decided to get off at Be’er Sheva.

Just before he dropped us off he told us that three weeks ago we wouldn’t have been able to get into Be’er Sheva, because Gaza was firing missles into the city. We could see the hole in the bus station. Somehow everything seemed to be going on as normal.

We went into a shopping mall and the lights and noises and even just all the words were so much information overload from the dessert, but I coped with it a lot better than the others, mostly due to the fack that I couldn’t get any money from the ATM. We went into a bakery and they bought two bags full of pastries each. I got to taste every pastry from all six bags.

I could finally charge my IPad, but it onlynlasted long enough for the four of us to go on facebook and for me to sort out my banking problems.

To get back to the camp we had to walk out of the city and then made two hitch hiking groups. Vicky and me took the first car that stopped, but they only took us to Dimona, after waiting a few minutes we saw Vera and Gabe walking towards us. They Then took the next car that stopped and Vicky and me had to wait for almost 40 minutes. The woman that finally stopped was only going a few kilometers outside of Dimona that is still 40 kilometers from the Crater. She however decided to take us all the way, because that’s what her father tought her.

Saturday I washed my clothes and the rest of the day consisted of eating junk from Babylon that we bought and that newcomers brought with. That night I drank 6 cups of Chai.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Walk About Love Day 29 – 32

Arriving at the Dead Sea

Marleen and the others that went to Tel Aviv came back at 2 in the morning after waiting next to the road for almost 8 hours until Rea finally picked them up.

We walked back into the Crater and climbed out at another point. After some more walking we got to a spring, but the water was pretty green and smelling. We stayed there for a long time and then had a short walk to the road where a Tintolit picked us up for the fourth time.

We stopped in Arad for shopping. Or took a Didgeridoo a started playing it in the town square while Carrol danced and me and Oriki did acrobalance and backflips. We put a hat down and after only 15 minutes we had 123 NIS (R250). We bought a big pizza and some cooldrink.

Back on the bus we found out that we still had to walk 2km from where the bus will drop us. I went to bed almost directly and didn’t eat dinner as the pizza was more than enough.

Monday was probably the most beautiful day so far. We went down a valley with three big springs. The first one was on a cliff and had a natural slide of almost 10 meters into it.

The second one had a dead donkey and we had lunch there for some reason, the pool was a really beautiful narrow strip between cliffs.

The third one was almost completely covered with a big overhead rock. From the last pool we had a long way to go and only arived at camp at almost nine.

I stayed up quiet late showing pictures of South Africa to Gabe and Ilse and then in the end almost all the matrasses was taken so I had to share one with Ilse.

Tuesday Ilse and me decided to walk to Masada (google it) instead of walking next to the road. The mountain and ruins on top was amazing and the history is really touching. At the bottom we took a bus to Ein Gedi and arived before most of the others. After floating in the dead sea a taking a shower we continued walking to the hot springs we camped for the night.

Wednesday I didn’t feel like walking for the first time so I decided to hitch hike like most of the group. Seven of us waited together and two got a ride with a truck and the rest of us in one car.

At Dragot beach me and Marleen directly went to see if Shalom is still in his camp, but sadly it was clear. We went to the fresh water spring and stayed in there for an hour. Then out of nowhere Urri’s Sarah appeared. She has been living on the beach for a week waiting for us to come. Later Urri also arrived from Jerusalem where he found a Job. I’ve been sitting in their Zula for the last few hours typing this and all the time people from the walk come to say hello and be reunited and the new ones came to meet the special couple.

We are staying on the beach until Saturday. It is suppose to be a rainbow weekend, but I have no idea what that actually means, but I will inform you after the weekend.

Saturday, April 28, 2012
5th weekend: Dragot Beach

Sunrise over the Dead Sea and springs at Metzuke Dragot

Wow, what an amazing weekend! Wednesday evening a few of us tried out some new springs. After getting burned in the first one we tried and freezing in the second we found one that contained a mix of both. In order to get warm water you had to move around and find the hot spots that moves around.

Thursday morning Gabe and me was planning on going into one of the valleys at Ein Gedi, but then Juval suggested an extreme route that is classified of one of Israel’s best trails. So the three of us plus Lear decided to do it. In order to enter the park which was within walking distance from our camp you had to have 30m of rope with you so we took a few odd pieces from the tent, but never used it.

The trail basically goes to the top of a valley and then down through it. The valley is really narrow however and mostly fille with water. The only way to get down is by jumping into (or using rope) the next pool and swimming through it. At some pools you could slide down and others you comuld just walk through. The water was pretty disgusting and smelly from all the trash that people leave behind for some strange reason, we even found a bag full of fresh hotdog rolls between two pools.

Back at the beach I went to a sweet water (with some sulpher) lake right next to the dead sea. It felt so weird to actually have to swim and not just being able to float like in the dead sea.

We wanted to do the Ein Gedi rivers the next morning, but on Friday everyone was to lazy so we just stayed at the camp. It was a sad day for me, because both Vicky and Ilse left whom I spent most of my time with the past two weeks. So I basically waited in the tent for them to pack and day good bye until after lunch. I then went to the lake again and took a shower at a fresh water pool with a pipe to a lower point that I haven’t seen before.

The Walk About Love band gave a performance for everyone on that beach that included a lot of people who came just came to braai for Independence day and didn’t necessarily know about the Walk. After about 15 songs including Marleen’s hit single Babylon Blues there were a fire show with 3 different performers.

Me and Yuval at the first waterfall in Wadi David

After the show and the biggest food circle ever with the least food as a result one of the longest nights of my life started. After joining a few groups of people snacking on Babylon snacks I found my way to the fire where I spent all might with Marleen and a few others. During the night it was interesting to meet all the night owls and in the morning all those who wake up really early as well as the in between ones who just cannot sleep, come to the fire and leave again after a few minutes. One guy brought us water that had actual ice in it, I never thought I would get excited about ice water, but it was heaven.

Just after the beautiful sunrise over the dead sea in a multitude of colours Yuval snatched me up to go to Ein Gedi with him. After an improvised cracker breakfast we went to the road and found a Hitch within a few minutes. I was so tired I actually fell asleep during the 10 minute ride to Ein Gedi. At the entrance I bought a Yoghurt snd then I somehow managed for the rest of the day. The park was quiet full as it was Shabbat and the walking was easy, but seeing waterfalls in the dessert with the dead sea tht you can see through the canyon opening is amazing.

At three we finished with both rivers and went to the buffet restaurant that Liran took me and Marleen to before the Walk. Yuval and me shared a plate of Turkey, spaghetti and corn and took some left over pita from another table.

Back at Dragot beach it was a fly nightmare and even though I was unbelievable tired I couldn’t sleep. I went for my third shower of the weekend at dawn and then the mosquito nightmare started. As I’m typing this the mosquitos are eating my hands, but I’m very happy and can’t wait to walk to Jerusalem.

Thursday, May 3, 2012
Walk About Love Day 37 – 40

Spring in Wadi Kelt

On Sunday morning I was still so tired that I couldn’t walk, especially not the 20km that the rest of the group had to walk mostly next to the road. I stayed at the beach for a while with Joshua and Jonathan. We met Mark who has been living at the beach for 8 years. He’s originally from New York, but moved to Israel 30 years ago. He claims that he only eats blue green algea  once a day and that all the food he finds on the beach he gives to the animals. We saw the algi in his cooking pot, but he also snacked on some pita while we were there. He claims to be totally disconected from the world, not using cars or buses or any other form of technology or civilisation. Personally I think all the algi affected is judgement a bit, but it was interesting to talk to him nonetheless.

I left the beach on my own after lunch and got a ride with a bus. At the intersection to the Kibbutz Qalya two girls got out of a taxi at the same time. They invited me to go to the Kibbutz with them instead of waiting at the camp for the other people to finish walking 20km. I didn’t see much of the kibbutz as I went with one of the girls to her two friends whose job it was to sit the whole day at a building site and see to it that the workers work or something. I spend a few hours talking to them about the usual topics like religion, politics and girls. In the afternoon I went to our camp where Marleen was already as she apparantly weren’t allowed to stay at the beach alone.

At five we went back to the Kibbutz to the mini market and had a cheese and beer festival on the grass, with cottage cheese, white cheese and camembert on a pita with ham.

Back at the camp a enormous army of huge ants seemed to be coming out of the fire or rather the wood in the fire and we had to move camp, because they were the biting type. For some stupid reason (probably because I was still tired) I went to sleep on the smoke side of the fire and close to the music so I couldn’t sleep until after 24:00 even though I went to bed at 21:00.

Monday morning I woke up coughing, but I at least felt capable of walking again. Marleen however decided to go to visit Leah in Jerusalem until the weekend. We followed a gravel road for a while and then turned into a canyon that could possibly have a waterfall. Even though we walked up a dry rivier we were still dissappointed when we finally got to the waterfall and there was no water. After a shortish lunch we continued waling for another 1km and there the camp was. We the shortest day sofar. We camped at an intersection of road 90, which is the highway running through the whole country. To pass the time me and Klara went fir a walk past some arab stores (we were very close to Jericho which is Palestinian territory) until we saw Vera, Omer and D’vir at the Last Chance Restaurant. They had a big Hummus feast with falafel and all sorts of sauces. They invited us to finish the leftovers which was really good.

Since Klara also didn’t sleep so well the previous night we decided to be smart and put our matrasses far away from the fire and the music. Somehow I wasn’t tired so we stayed up the whole camp was silent.

Tuesday morning Klara also left and with Marleen and Miriam in Jerusalem and Vicky and Ilse that left earlier the week I felt quite alone. It was probably a good thing, because I spoke to some people that as been walking with us for awhile for the first time. On the way through a few up and downs on the outskirts of Jericho I ‘met’ Eli. She’s a programmer from Bulgaria that currently works in Mallorca and came to Israel specifically to join the walk for two weeks.

After crossing a fe dry hills we got to an lookout point overlooking an amazing green valley with a huge monastry build into the cliffs. It had amazing gardens around it that got water all year round from a ancient aquaduct that starts 5km up the river at a spring that we went to for luch. We stayed at this spot with a waterfall for more than four hours only leaving at 17:00. As the group started leaving by going out of the canyon Mark suggested that it is possible to go up the river to the next camp. Only six was brave (or stupid) enough to follow. Naturally I was one of them. The river wasn’t very deep and we could walk through the water, at some places there was a path going next to the river. I went barefoot as I don’t have sandals, but the paths had thorns so my feet aren’t to happy at the moment, in too of that I slipped and hit my knee on a rock. I would still however say that it was worth it. We saw some amazing waterfalls and natural pools with cold drinkable water.

We were the last ones to arrive at camp, but luckily there was still pita and chocolate as well as watermelon waiting for us. We had amazingly tasty rice for dinner, maybe just because we haven’t had it for a long time.

I noticed that I haven’t mentioned the food for awhile, but it has stayed more or less the same, with lots of soup the past few days, except for yesterday’s rice.

The porridge is also still the same, but with some variation each morning. Wednesday’s porridge was coffee flavoured and had dates in them. Mine just tasted like sugar as usually, which is nice (for me).

My knee still hurt and I could barely walk. I decided to join the camp crew for the first time. Nikita was the only other non-crew member that stayed so there was seven of us in total. We sat around for a long time, after the walkers started walking, packing up the last things. When we finally started driving we were almost going slower as those walking because of the heavy load and the steep uphill. We stopped at a mall to buy coffee and flour for the camp. We then had to look for a camping place, because a ranger came in the morning and said we are not allowed to camp at the same place as last year, because the people were shitting all over the place. We found a picnic area quite easily and decided to set up camp there. It is now 14:00 and the rest of the people will probably only arrive tonight, because of all the springs.

7 hours later

I’m sitting in a Russian-Israeli’s historic apartment in the middle of Jerusalem with a bustling street full of city nightlife goers and futuristic tramline.

After typing the first part of this entry I packed my backpack only take the bre necessities for my trip to the north to hike the sea to sea trail with Ilse and Klara. I didn’t know yet when I wanted to go, but I felt like I needed to be ready. I also washed some clothes and helped with dinner. French Myriam was one of the first who arrived at the camp. Together we went to the local village to a cafe, but didn’t buy anything. While we were just sitting and admiring the view Mark, Vera, Eli and Sarah came to the cafe as well. They ordered pita with some spoce which was suprisingly good even after earing pita almost everyday. It is then that I heard that Mark is coming to Jerusalem tonight so I impulsively decided to join him.

It took some time to say good bye to everyone and explain to them that I will be coming back and that I’m only taking a short break. Finally at 20:00 we started walking. After walking almost 2km a car picked us up and took us to the wall just outside of Jerusalem. From there we walked all the way to the tram station and then took a tram to his frontdoor.

We had the best dinner together, real meat and unknown russian starch substence that tastes really good.

Now my new journey starts and I’m already missing the Walk, but I know that the break will do me good.

Sunday, May 6, 2012
6th weekend: Jerusalem Forest and Bethlehem

Our camp in the Jerusalem Forest

Yes, my ‘new’ journey took me right back to the Walk About Love, but this time I’m really going as I’m sitting on the bus to Haifa. I will take off from where my previous entry stopped.

After the dinner at Mark’s place on Wednesday night we drank some beer with his flatmate until he had to go to work. I then when to take a real hot water shower with shampoo for the first time in 40 days. Surprisingly it wasn’t that amazing, but it was probably for the best.

I went to bed quite late after spending some time copying pictures from my camera to my harddrive.

On wednesday morning I woke up when Mark came back from work, he was really tired and the deal was that I would leave when he went to bed. I stayed in the flat for a few more minutes to drink tea and to check out their roof top. From his flat I walk around aimlessly stopping at a shop to buy batteries and chocolate milk and then to the Old City.

I wanted to go to the Western Wall, but decided to first visit Marleen and Miri who are staying at Leah’s place in Jerusalem. I found her flat quite easily, but didn’t even know if anyone was going to be there as I had no means of contacting them. I knocked on the door and Marleen opened the door silently as Miri was still sleeping on the couch. We spent some time talking and eating when Miri woke up. At some point Leah and her real flatmates came back and left again. In the afternoon I wanted to go back to the Old City to go to the Wall, but they wanted me to stay. I went to the bus stop at the same time that Marleen went to the pharmacy to by hair colour. So I decided that if the bus does not come before Marleen get’s back from the store then I will stay. We ended up staying at Leah until 20:00.

In this time we baked Nikita a cake for his Birthday, I called Klara and found out that they’ew only going to start walking on Monday, Marleen coloured her hair shocking red and somehow I also got a red patch in my hair and we found out that we must meet the Walk About Love in Ben Yehuda at 20:00.

We made it there in time just to wait almost 2 hours for everyone else to arrive at he Zion square making music together and dancing. The rest of the group who actually walked have been walking all day from the camp I hitch hike from through Jerusalem and into the Old City and have not been to the camp yet as nobody actually knew where it was.

Finally we were ordered to get into a taxi. Eleven of us got into a shuttle and luckily someone knew where to tell the driver to go. The shuttle stop in forest 20 minutes outside the city. In the darkness we could see more people coming out of taxis and we all started walking down a steep winding road. At long last we could here the familiar drums and see the camp fire. I was really tired and went to bed without eating.

In the morning we could see the beautiful forest for the first time. The camp was at a picnic area in the Aminadav forest. In the afternoon there was a reggae show with local bands from Jerusalem as well as the Walk About Love band in which Marleen was the main backup singer and the star of her Babylon Blues song.

A lot of people came for the show and stayed for the rest of the weekend. They ate with us and brought a lot of bread, cakes, chocolate resulting in yet another binge weekend.

The shabbat was spent doing nothing as usual. Gabe and me planned on going to Bethlehem on Sunday morning and then decided to leave with Nicky and Lisa to Ein Kerem where they volunteer at a place for disabled children. At nightfall we started walking just to turn around when we heard everyone shouting ‘food circle’. Agter dinner we somehow decided to stay. I was to lazy took pack out my backpack again so I just slept under a blanket that was laying around.

On Sunday morning a lot of people left including at long last me and Gabe. We walked almost 3 or more kilometers with Sarah until someone finally picked us up and dropped us of in the city at a tram stop from where we went to the Old City. We walked with Sarah to St. Georges cathedral where she wanted to stay and we thought we could leave our bags there, but they wanted 150 USD for the night. We parted ways with Sarah and decided to just go to Bethlehem with our Backpacks.

Getting into Bethlehem was really easy the bus ride only cost 7 NIS and they didn’t even check our passports. At the bus stop a taxi driver convinced us to make use of his services. We ended up going to all the Banksy graffiti sites on the apartheid wall between Bethlehem and Jerusalem and then went to Herodium, King Herod’s summer palace on top of a man made mountain. From the top we could see the dead sea and the dessert to the east, Jerusalem to the north and the start of the greener landscape to the West. In 164 CE tunnels was built under the palace connecting the cisterns and was used for surprise attacks from behind to people who tried to storm the palace. I’ve never seen such a network of ancient man made tunnels going deep into a mountain.

Finally our 100 NIS per person taxi tour took us to the Nativity Church where Jesus was born. The exact spot which was in a cave, now underneath the church, is marked with the star of david. We stood in line for an hour just to touch the star like everyone else and then leave again.

Before going into the church we had spicy lamb with hummus and Salad for 30 NIS, after the church we had Falafel for 5 NIS, I liked the falafel more.

We got back to the bus station before 18:00 after walking through the market. In Jerusalem we impulsively decided to get off at Leah’s flat. Just as we got off we saw her coming around the corner with her bicycle. She offered us to stay and took take a shower so Gabe gladly accepted.

I went on facebook at found out that Ilse at Klara already met each other in Haifa at 14:00 today. I tried calling Klara, but she didn’t anwser. I decided that I will somehow find them and took off to the central bus station. I got off at some market that was still open and quickly bought some nuts and bread that will hopeful last me until I find them and the next shop. At the central bus station I bought a ticket for Haifa and here I am in the bus at 22:00. From Haifa I still have to go to Nahariya and then Achziv beach where they might be sleeping. If not I will find them in the morning somehow.

Saturday, May 12, 2012
Yam el Yam

Klara, Ilsa and Me on top of Mt Meron

The journey didn’t start so good with me rushing out of Jerusalem totally unprepared. The bus ride to Haifa was ok, but from there it was a nightmare. At the Central Bus Station (karmel) in Haifa everything was already closed and there was almost no other people. Even on the bus it was just me and one other person. I tried to read the signs for a bus to Naharia, but there were to many signs in Hebrew. I then took out my IPad and luckily there was free wifi. To my shock there were no busses to Nahariya from this bus station and I had to go to the Mifrats central bus station, no problem, except that the last bus left a few minutes ago and the last bus to Nahariya leaves in 40 minutes. I rushed outside and found a taxi. I could’ve probably tried to hitch hike but it was already 23:00 and the closer I got to Ilsa and Klara the faster I wanted to get there.

The taxi driver was driving like crazy and the meter kept on rising, 20 NIS, 40, 60 then to 80 just by waiting at a red light for 5 minutes. Finally the driver dropped me at the bus station and I gave him my last 100 shekels even though the price was a bit higher. I only had 5 minutes till the last bus would leave. Luckily there were an ATM at the bus stop. I tried to get 200 shekels, but then the machine gave an error. I almost gave up I saw myself going back to the Walk About Love and declare that I have failed to travel on my own. Then I tried 100 NIS and it worked.

I got on the last bus and almost immediately fell asleep. The bus driver had to wake me as I was the last one on the bus at the final station in Naharia. I got out and felt completely lost. It was already 01:00 in the morning. I walked around aimlessly for a few minutes with no clue as to which direction the sea or the main road is. A lone taxis drove by and asked me where I wanted to go. I was so tired and didn’t care anymore. I got in and asked him to take me to Achsiv beach. It cost me another 30 Shekels. That brings the price to 200 NIS, almost as much as you would pay from Cape Town to Johannesburg (which is more than 4 times further). Nevertheless I was finally at the beach and I could almost smell them. I imagined how I would find them sleeping and then join them so that when they wake up in the morning I will be right there next to them. Imagine my disappointment when I couldn’t find them after searching the whole beach, under the bridge and everywhere in a radius of a kilometer. I finally went to sleep next to a picnic bench. I would rise early in the morning and look for them again.

At 05:30 I woke up with the chirping birds, a sound that I haven’t heard for almost two months. After 15 minutes I was ready to go. I started by going back to the beach to search for them one last time. Still there was no sign of them so I started walking thinking to myself that even if they decided not to do the trail anymore I could somehow manage it on my own, getting food and directions from other hikers on the trail. After two kilometers past big banana plantations I saw a farmer with a cellphone. He let me use it and after a few rings Klara picked up. What a relief. They were still sleeping on the beach, behind a wall where I never thought about looking. I ended up walking back the 2 kilometers, but it was all worth it, because I was so glad to see them after all the drama.

Amazing water filled cave

They took their time making breakfast, soup and sushi that someone gave them the previous night. At 08:30 we finally started walking passing the banana plantation for the third time. The trail kept winding through the farm for 4km until we got to a road that we followed for another 2 km. At one point a big group of about 50 American scholars passed us on bicycles. Finally we got to the green trail that goes through one of the most beautiful valleys that I have ever seen. Lush green trees, crystal clear water, ancient ruins and my personal favourite: A narrow water filled natural tunnel that goes deep into a mountain to where the water comes out of the ground. The water is mostly waist high, the tunnel two shoulder breadths wide and you have to crouch to not hit your head. At some points however you need to swim or squish. Naturally the water at the source is ice called and tastes amazing. All in all the tunnel is about 50 meters long, although it feels much longer.

At 16:00 we got out of the valley with a steep black trail. We were really tired and thought about illegally sleeping in the National Park. Luckily we decided to keep on going to Abbirim which is a small communal village just outside of the National Park. We found a gravel road and made camp next to it. After a simple rice and corn dinner a friendly guy came by with his two dogs. He immediately invited us to sleep in his house for the night. He had a simple 50 square meter house with three rooms without doors, a big fish tank, 2 cats AND 4 dogs: Two small and two monstrous. Within seconds we were full of hair.

On the upside he had a proper double-bed mattress, hot shower with clean towels, internet and a friendly personality. He is a regular Couch Surfing host, the only one in Abirim, and gets a lot of asian visitors as he studied in China for a while. He works close to Haifa which is 50 km from is house and to get there he has to walk to the neighbour town and take a bus from there. He thus had to get up at four in the morning, but he allowed us to stay for as long as we wanted to and to eat anything we find in the house, especially the bread that he baked specially for us. We just had to lock the house and leave the key in the door.

We only started walking at nine as we didn’t wake with the sun. The trail goes 5 km on the road to a junction from where a green trail goes into another valley. After just a few hundred meters on the road a women picked us up and took us to the junction saving us two hours walk. The road wasn’t as interesting as yesterday until we got to the Israel trail at the bottom of Mount Meron, where people doing the sea to sea trail usually overnight. It was still early afternoon and we wanted to walk some more plus someone warned us that there are going to be about half a million people gathering at Mount Meron for Lag Boamer celebration so we should try to pass it as soon as possible.

We slept close to the view point, as we were to tired to go all the way, on the almost top of mt. Meron with an amazing view over the Galilee. It was illegal to camp there so I was quiet paranoid and thought someone would come in the night and chase us away, I even started thinking what Israeli prisons are like. At one point just after we cooked rice again we heard loud voices, Ilsa and me had such a big fright that we almost threw out all our water on the fire, switch of our lights and sat in the darkness, as if someone would not see us 2m from the path. Later we realised the voices were coming from people below the mountain speaking over microphones.

Luckily we didn’t need the fire anymore and went to sleep. It took some while though, because there was so many animals (hopefully) in the bushes around us making funny noises.

The next morning we started walking really early so that early hikers wouldn’t find us sleeping on the mountain. We went down the mountain rather fast until we got to a police barricade at a bridge to regulate the ‘half a million’ people. We tried to ask the police officers where the trail continued, but they haven’t even heard of the trail. I found it really funny when we finally found the trail right underneath the point they were standing.

Interesting stone henge like structure

From there the route continued down Nahal (river) Amud. At about 14:00 we reached a physical and mental cross road. There was a turn-off to Sefad where people usual stay the night or we could keep on going for 5 more kilometers to a road 85 where we can also spend the night. In the end it was decided that Ilsa and Klara will go to Sefad, buy more food and then we walk to the road. I had the privilege of getting eaten by mosquitoes. After a long torturous hour and a half, including a conversation about Biltong, the girls returned with enough food to save Ethiopia from starvation. I tried to be a gentlemen and took the heavy fruit, which I immediately regretted.

The path weren’t as straight as we thought it would be following a river. It was a narrow canyon in which we had to go up on the one side until it got to steep, cross the river and then up on the other side again. Finally we could see the canyon opening and then the road in the distant. I almost started running, but my legs had other plans so I sat down for a while. We were low on water and there was no water point shown on the map, just a gas station 5km down the road, I considered hitchhiking there to fill up our bottles, but as we got really close to the road we saw a big group of Americans camping there with a camping crew and a water truck.

We camped about 500m away from them just to be sure that we’re not disturbed. Somehow we didn’t notice the water pumps right across us and the spray lights, with on that flickered on and off the whole night, also the ground wasn’t even close to be flat and then above all it started to rain softly, but not enough to make anything wet.

On Thursday morning we started quiet late and almost didn’t catch the Americans in time to fill up our water. The route continued down the valley still following the Israel trail. I was started to miss the dessert and its openness, because I couldn’t take the bushes harassing my legs anymore. At long last we could see the Sea of Galilee and decided to take a shortcut through some more banana plantations, just to reach a marshland with no accessibility to the lake. We did some bundu bashing and then found a purple trail that led us to the small town of Ginosar where we could finally swim.

I experienced the hike like most of the backpack hikes that I have done in South Africa. Most of the time you just wish to be done with it, but then every now and then there is these moments that make it all worth it. Like getting to a spring, throwing your bag down, taking your clothes off as fast as you can, jumping into the water and feeling life rushing back into your feet, your legs and the rest of your body.

From Ginosar we walked to a gas station for ice cream and then got a ride to Tiberias within seconds. We had some falafel and then wandered aimlessly through the city, sort of looking for the old city and then ended up in a souvenir shop that also gives piercings. Almost two hours later Ilsa walked out with an upper ear-piercing and Klara with a nose-piercing. The actual piercing only took a split second as the woman used what looked like a nail gun to simply shoot the piercing through the ear or nose. The other hour, 59 minutes, 59 seconds and 99 split seconds was spent convincing each other to get it and then choosing the right one. I always knew not giving in to peer pressure would serve me good one day, I believe this was that day.

I found something that looked like the old part of the city next to the lake, but it wasn’t as impressive as I imagined it. On the lake there were a few wooden boats, that are suppose to look like the one Jesus and his disciples used to cross the Galilee.

We found the bus station late in the afternoon, bought a ticket to Haifa and got of at Shafram from where we hitchhiked to Harduf, an organic farm where Klara volunteers.

I’m really glad that I took this break from the Walk About Love, although it seemed like they also had an amazing week with lots of celebrations at beautiful places. I’ve come to realise however that no matter what you do you will always miss out on something else so just enjoy the moment as much as you can.

Saturday, May 12, 2012
Harduf weekend
When Klara told me the volunteers lives in tents on the fields I didn’t think it would literally be a tent without a ground cover, a mattress on the floor and a bookshelf for clothes. The kitchen is a container, stocked with Harduf branded organic food ranging from pasta, tahini, lentils, chocolate spread, milk, rice cakes and a few other odds and ends. Also the volunteers can have as much of the harvest from the fields as they want. On the stove a pot of pasta was waiting for us that the semi-permanent volunteer, Michael, made. After a hot shower in a wooden shack we went to sleep.

Friday morning we helped picking cucumbers in the fields for 30 minutes and then the work for the day was done. The other volunteers consisted of Felix a young German and Dominique an old french guy. We all had a big farmers breakfast together with fresh bread from old dough, butter, turkish tea and much more.

In the afternoon we went to Nazareth with Michael. We walked in circles and passed the same places about six times. We saw the second biggest church in the world, but couldn’t go in. After some more circles we had ‘cheap’ shwarma for 25 NIS.

This morning I slept until almost 11:00 just in time for picnic in the mountain. It consisted mainly of potato salad from potatoes that we picked up yesterday that has been laying in the fields since last year’s harvest.

The rest of the gang went walking down a river to a natural swimming pool, but I decided to stay and relax a bit. Maybe I should start an organic farm in South Africa using only volunteers as workers and living off the produce.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
‘Resting week’
So my resting week was actually on of the most stressful weeks in Israel. Not necessarily on a physical or even conscience level, but I can feel that somehow I didn’t have as much peace in me as with the Walk About Love or any other structured environment.

I noticed that my previous report was too long and that most people just scan through it and miss all the good bits, so I will try my best to keep this one short.

On Sunday after the Harduf weekend, we had to earn our stay by working in the organic fields. We started with picking more cucumbers and then zucchini. From there I went to folding boxes, weeding, some more weeding and the some more weeding in a different field. The last task was to bind up and trim tomatoes. It is a very relaxing work environment with a 10 minute break almost every hour and breakfast at 09:30. Lunch is after the days work at 14:30.

Ilsa and me hitch hiked to the junction and then took 3 busses to Oriki’s house. Her parents entertained us with bread and cheese that her just brought back from holland until Oriki returned from the circus at 23:00.

The next day we went to the beach while Oriki wrote her final English exam. The beach was somewhat South African, but the ocean wasn’t as rough.

At 21:00 after Oriki’s return we decided to go to Dani’s house in Amikam, we however couldn’t reach her on her phone and didn’t even know if she was home, but Oriki said she always leaves her door open. So 4 hitch hikes and a bit of walking and 2 hours later we stood in front of Dani’s house where no light was shining. The door was open indeed, but still no sign of Dani. We made ourselves at home and went to bed early.

Tuesday we slept until 11:00 and then went to a spring close by. We didn’t stay long due to hunger cramps. Oriki ‘broke’ into her boyfriend’s house where we made pasta for lunch and left just as his mom came home.

The plan was to go to Tel Aviv to say good buy to Marleen who had to fly back to South Africa in the evening. Luckily I phoned Shani just to find out that Marleen came to some beach with Vera and Ben just a few kilometers from us. So three hitch hike’s and 2 kilometers of walking we made it to the beach just in time.
It was a really sad moment for everyone and Marleen couldn’t say good bye. I decided to go with her to the airport to make sure she gets on her flight. We already missed the first to trains to Tel Aviv and made it just in time for the one leaving at 18:50. According to international flight safety she had to be at the airport at 18:20 already as her flight leaves at 21:20.

We got to the airport just before 20:00. Shani was waiting already for an hour eith Marleen’s bag at entrance. Together we ran to the Turkish airline desk just to find out she first had to stand in the longest security line ever. We waited patiently watching the time go by and the line barely moving. Finally she got to the checkin desk 20 minutes before lift off, by this time most people were probably already seated in the airplane. She went with a security guard through a special way to the airplane as the normal way through the gates and duty free would take to long.

What a relief that she made it, but how sad at the same moment. It still feels unreal that suddenly Marleen is not there anymore after everything we have been through together. But I will finish the journey to mt Hermon for her.

I went back with Shani to her huge modern house apartment in Tel Aviv. I had the best shower and dinner in Israel so far and then went to sleep on the cleanest whitest room ever.

I’m currently on my way to Jerusalem to go to the Mt Olive and the Western wall at last. Hopefully I make it this time.

Thursday, May 17, 2012
Mixed feelings
So I’m sitting in a McDonalds feeling rather fed up with traveling, which is shocking because I only just started ‘traveling’ after quiting university and was planning on seeing every single country in the world. I just spoke to my parents and semi-joked that I feel like flying home tomorrow.

I already mentioned some of this stress that has been building up during my resting week, but the last straw was Israel’s Interior Office, but before I get there let me first bring you up to speed.

From the Central Bus station, where I got to yesterday, I took the tram to the Damascus gate. From there I walked to the Garden Tomb that was closed on my previous attempt to go there. I got there just before two and had to wait for 15 minutes for it two open. It took much longer to get in though because a huge group of singing Africans were let in before us non-tourgroupers. While waiting a smaal group of Canadians asked me where I’m from and then out of nowhere a lady started speaking Afrikaans to me. At first I didn’t realise it was Afrikaans until she told me she’s also from South Africa. She’s been to the garden before with a tour from Radio Kansel that she joined. At the information desk we got a brochure in Afrikaans.

Oh, the garden tomb is the place where the protestants (or non-catholics) believe Jesus was buried. Personally I think it doesn’t really matter, but the setting is much more peaceful and beautiful then the smoke filled and gold plated Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There is an actual man made cave from 2000 years ago and some other ‘proof’ of why the garden was the resting place of Jesus for three days.

From there I finally went to the Western Wall after being denied entrance to the Dome of the Rock. At the Western Wall I had to put on a Kippah. So I did and I also wrote a prayer and put in into the wall with the millions of other messages.

Before I went to Leah I quickly google must sees in the Old City, from the list of 10 things I only did about 3, but was to tired to go back and do the rest plus most of them cost money. As a third reason I convinced myself that I’m not a sightseeing junkie and it’s more about the experience, which I had more than enough of.

I went out with Leah and her roommate for dinner where we also met Haim, who was on the walk for a few days. Since Leah and Haim are both Vegan, we went to the village green, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant. Surprisingly there was more than enough food for me to choose from and it all tasted great, we even had vegan chocolate cake for dessert. After a refreshing Goldstar, Israel’s pride, I slept on the first real couch since I came to Israel.

I have been thinking of coming back to South Africa a day earlier to be in time for the first BTK tour. That made me think about my visa so I did some research and to my shock it already expires on the 9th of June and not on the 12th or 11th as I thought. After some research I found the ministry of the interior. I just needed two buses to get there, but unfortunately that wasn’t it. At the reception they told me the visa department is in the city center and I can take bus 14 to get there. Bus 14 went in the opposite direction however, but I kept telling myself it is just doing its rounds and will turn to the city soon, but after almost an hour it reached its last stop way out of the city center. I then had to take another bus all the way back and the traffic was really congested, but finally I got there already tensed up. So when they told me they’re closed and I should come back on Sunday morning, to make an appointed for later the week!! I couldn’t take it anymore. I changed my ticket to the 7th of June which means that I won’t be able to make the last 2 or 3 days of the walk, but I will happily exchange that for not having to go through all the drama and missing a week of walking by waiting for the office to open and give me an appointed.

I apologise for the negativity and I’m also angry at myself for being so superficial. For the past two months I felt so in-tune with the Universe and just going with the flow, believing that everything happens for a reason. This time round it is more difficult to keep on believing it, but the biggest part of me already made peace with the change of plans and only time will show what good will come from it.

Tonight I’m returning to the Walk and it really does feel like going home, knowing that I will be in a safe environment where I can just be.

Friday, May 25, 2012
8th weekend: Tel Aviv and Shabbat with the Buchbuts

I want to start by saying that my mood totally changed from my previous post and that everything is alright again. I am not flying back on the 7th as mentioned in my previous post, but on the 11th as I decided that it is important to finish the walk all the way to Mt Hermon with the group, this however means that I have to go to Jordan again to extend my visa for 3 days. I thought about staying in Israel for another month since I have to extend my visa and change my flight in anyway, but for some reason I feel like I have to do the BTK hike, maybe my future wife awaits me?

So back to the McDonalds… At 17:00 I still didn’t receive an email back from my travel agent about changing my flight. I just realised that had she replied in time I would probably have confirmed the flight for the 7th of June and regretted not going all the way to Mt Hermon for the rest of my life.

Back in Tel Aviv at the seven story bus station that still blows my mind I had the sense to first call Rea to find out where the camp is before just blindly following the website which seems to always be outdated. The camp moved indeed from the Drummer’s beach to some other beach more North. I found the right bus and asked the bus driver to tell me when to get off. It was already dark when he finally told me to get off and take a right to the beach.

I could hear the drums in my ears and started running, just to find an empty beach with no sign of the camp, the drums just being imaginery. I asked around and found out the Mandarin hotel, which is 300 meters north to the camp as the sms from Rea read, is 4 more kilometers north. I initially thought the walk in dark along the beach alone would be nice and quick, but it was anything but.

I was sweating like never before and the air was full of TUFOs (tiny unidentified flying objects). After walking for what felt like more than 4 kilometers I asked somebody “eyfo Madarin”, he then explained to me in Hebrew, but from his hand gestures I could understand that I had to go back.

I missed the camp, because it was not on the beach as I expected, but on the cliff next to the beach. And the reason I didn’t hear the usual camp fire music was because there was none. There were only about ten people of which some were already sleeping and some were new. It wasn’t exactly the grand welcome back that I expected, but I still felt at home with the regulars that did not give in to Babylon: Mayan, D’vir, Daniel, Nikita, Yuval x2, Stefanie, Gal and others. I met Frieda from Denmark and Chica from Japan. During the night more people came that just went away for the day like Shani and Myriam that returned after also taking a two week break. Important key players like Tsvi, Vera, Omer, Oriki, Joshua and Miriam were still missing, but there was hope that they will be back soon. I was sadly reminded of everyone that would not be coming back like Marleen, Yamuna, Gabe, Or, Carrol and countless more walkers that made such a big impression. It was clear the from this point forward the walk was going to be different, but I look forward to it and welcome it with open arms.

Thursday morning our even smaller walking group started with the traditional walking circle where we were informed that we would be walking South along the beach to the drummer’s beach in South Tel-Aviv. We carried all the instruments we had and played it all the way especially on public beaches and broad walks where there were thousands of other people. We had two Jamba drums, two guitars, a violin, a didgeridoo and a rattling thing. On the way Usher and Daffy joined us then Oriki and later Vera as well, but only Vera stayed.

At the drummer’s beach it seemed that everyone who ever walked or just visited came to say hello like Mira who left after the first week and Kinneret, Yamuna, Or, Leah, George, Sammy and Rose to just name a few. I was ‘dragged’ away by Vera to go get some food a didn’t get to talk much to any of the back comers.

Yuval warned me not to eat to much, because he invited me to his house for the night, but I didn’t really think why and ate 3 pitas with cheese and hummus. At Yuval’s house in a city outside Tel-Aviv I was welcomed by his 8-strong family and a table heavily loaded with food and to top all of that his family is Moroccan which means eating small portions is nit an option. Luckily we first got to shower and then the fun started.

The men, including me, all put on Kippahs and then his father did the blessing and drank from the wine. I was the third last one to take a sip being the third youngest, just after Yuval’s twin brother who is 2 minutes younger than him.

My plate was got loaded with all kinds of salads and breads which a just managed to eat and then came the fish, good tasting salmon to my surprise, and the a chicken wrap. Finally after much struggling I sort of finished everything giving some to Yuval. The table got cleared and my stomach was relieved, but then to my surprise his mother came back with to place mats and put it in the middle of the table. ” More food?” I thought to myself. “Ah, yes there is probably desert”. His mother took out a big casserole from the oven. “that doesn’t look like dessert…” I couldn’t believe it, it was not dessert, but rather the main course consisting of chicken and rice and grilled vegetables. Luckily there was no desert and I didn’t blow up.

Saturday we slept quiet late and the had a big breakfast at lunchtime with almost ten different mostly soft cheeses: cottage, cream, bulgarian, to just name a few that I knew the name of.

I had some time with internet for the first time and read some South African news: Chinese fisherman’s boat stranded on Clifton beach? Rape, Naked Zuma painting, murder, the usual stuff. I also downloaded the last 9 episodes of Gossip Girl S5 onto my Ipad, first one as an experiment and then seeing how easy it was the rest.

Yuval’s mother did our washing and for a lot of my things it was the first time in more than 60 days. Now I don’t need to wash anything again until South Africa. We went back to the Walk at 17:00. A trance party was underway with the most people at a Walk event that I have seen. It was a beautiful setting on the cliff close to where we slept on Wednesday. The sun set was amazing with people dancing to the trance facing the sun on the edge of the cliff in a long row.

Yuval suggested earlier that there was a big cinema city close by and at 22:00 me, Yuval and Frieda decided to go watch a movie. After some dangerous road crossings we got to the cinema and decided, against Frieda’s will, to watch The Avengers in 3D. I just realised again what a sucker I am for movies no matter how bad the acting or humour, as Frieda clearly pointed out, is.

When we came back to the camp at 01:30 the party was over and everyone was sleeping. I however first watch an episode of Gossip Girl, my guilty pleasure as Mayan puts it.

After returning from Manhattan and realising I’m at the Walk I felt much better again and looked forward to walking in the morning.

Sunday, May 27, 2012
Walk About Love Day 59 – 63

Sunset on the Meditaranean Sea

Finally a normal full walking week again or at least as normal as a walk about love week could get.

Sundays we usually start late, but on this specific Sunday it felt like we’re never going to leave. We were almost in time for lunch when someone suggested we start walking. The walk itself took us along the marina of Northern Tel-Aviv and then to some Gaudi-looking house on the beach near to an ancient Mosque.

In the afternoon we reached our nightcamp on the cliff that has been running next to the beach the whole day. I casually massaged Frieda’s back and to return the favour she suggested an oil massage. So I found cooking oil in the kitchen trailer and the rest as they say is history. Before going to sleep I watched two more episodes of Gossip Girl in the early morning hours.

Monday was the longest walking day. We started along the cliffs again until we got to Natanya which is a big city with an elevator that goes from the town center to the beach. We walked the whole length of the city and then further along the cliff until it finally opened up or flattened. The camp was waiting for us right on the beach. Dinner was a big spectacle. On top of the normal stew dish there was salad as well and then someone brought hummus and a lot of pita. Just as everyone was over stuffed a trail angel came and brought us meat in the form as beef patties and more pita. Since we didn’t want to offend him we grilled the patties.

After dinner we had the biggest listening circle ever (everyone), which is ironic because we were also the smallest group ever. After the first round of “I took a break from the group and I’m so happy to be back” it turned to a discussion about meat and vegetarianism, with opinions ranging from “by eating animals we keep them alive” to well the other extreme. In the end I didn’t know if I should feel bad or proud for eating one of the beef patties.

I watched three more episodes of Gossip Girl and when I finished it came as a good shock to realise that I’m on the beach with the waves just a few meters from me.

Tuesday morning I finally decided the time is now or never to decide about my return to South Africa. With internet from Yinnon’s iPhone and a few quick opinions from fellow walkers I changed my flight to the 11th of June (which lands at 13:10 on the 12th of June, just in time for the BTK hike that starts the next morning). My father called later the day to confirm that the flight has been paid for. This however means that I absolutely have to go to Jordan again to change extend my visa even though it’s just 3 days.

The walked was shorter in distance than yesterday, but we somehow arrived in the dark covered with mosquito bites. Probably due to the fact that we took a lot of breaks, including one at a river with warm water (from the sea water used for cooling in a factory and then being pumped into the river) which smelled really gross and there was no clean water to wash with so I imagined microscopic radiated creatures crawling all over my body.

We also walked through, after climbing over a ancient wall, Caesarea. For me it was almost more impressive then the old city in Jerusalem, complete with a amphitheater, chariot racing arena, and a big city surrounded by a wall and a moat? The only difference is Caesarea is almost only ruins.

Roman Aqueduct on the beach

The camp was beautifully situated under trees across from an ancient roman aqueduct about 300 meters from the beach. We had the best dinner ever with sweet potatoes and chili sauce giving it this award winning taste.

Wednesday was a really beautiful day since there were no more cities to cross, we walked on a beach going on for 18 km with just one small break. After 5 km we git to Ben’s Zula where I met Marleen last week just before she left. He was still there and Nicky and Lisa were currently visiting him. We stayed there for a very long time I was the last one to leave with Vera. We however passed almost everyone even the ones who left an hour before us. Our camp (well only the carpets) was waiting for us on the love beach (shaped like a heart). The trailer couldn’t get on the beach so we had to walk to the road every time we needed something.

Just as I thought it wasn’t possible for dinner to get any better than last night Pasta with sweet potato and chili was served. Definitely my personal favourite so far. Unfortunately what goes up must come down: Thursday’s dinner was a total anti-climax, but I’ll get to that.

Thursday walk was definitely the shortest ever, we didn’t even pack lunch. We stayed at the camp for a while playing beach ball and swimming. I also learned a poise move or two. The walk literally only took an hour including breaks. We arrived at the beach where I came with Ilsa while we waited for Oriki. The crew were waiting for the red truck to come and pull the trailers onto the beach. We made lunch at the road where the trailers were currently.

Only after dark the almost empty kitchen trailer arrived at our camp on the beach, everything had to be unloaded and taken piece by piece so that it is not so heavy. I spend my day sitting around in Oriki’s Zula chatting to Jonathan and then in some random guys’ Zula. The one guy works at the skydiving company on the beach and gets free dives every now and then, maybe I’ll look into that when I’m back in SA.

Dinner was prepared before the kitchen arrived and somewhere in the process everything went horribly wrong, I first tried to save my portion with chili sauce but even that didn’t work. Then I caught a glimpse of a circle of people in the dark, eating pretzels and white (yes, that is a type of cheese (or at least in Israel) and not just the colour) cheese! I went to bed quiet early knowing that I have to get up early in the morning.

Sunday, May 27, 2012
2nd Harduf weekend

Traditional Shavuot celebration

Friday morning I got up (somehow) while everyone else was still sleeping, packed my bag and left for Harduf. 4km of walking, 4 Hitch Hikes, 2 Buses and 3 hours later I walked into the smoking area of Harduf, surprised to find Daniel from South Africa sitting there with his brother and of course Klara, who invited me.

We spend the day catching up on everything that happened in the last two weeks. In the afternoon we went to the office for internet. Klara wrote a bunch of emails and when I ran out of emails to write I started watching the top trending YouTube videos. I felt like my old self again, sitting in front of my 24″ computer screen browsing the internet all day, which is necessarily not a good thing. The problem though is that I couldn’t help finding most of the videos really interesting and/or entertaining.

Klara and Me baked a cake after getting the recipe from my mom over the phone. We didn’t have all the ingredients and to improvise a bit. The dough was too much for the pan so I cleverly decided to make pancakes out of the rest of the dough. Not so surprisingly it tasted like thin slices of cake. The cake turned out great except for the fact that it was burned on top and maybe a little on the sides and at the bottom as well. Daniel and his brother made a soupy lentil and other starch dinner with a lot of onions and zucchini that tasted surprisingly good, but unfortunately I was already full from all the cake.

Saturday morning we had to be on duty at 08:00. Our job: to make salad for 500 people. We had to wash, cut and grate (in some cases) a crate full of carrots, cucumbers, kohlrabi, 6 crates full of lettuce and green onions. It might not sound like a lot, but it took 7 of us almost 4 hours.

After lunch we took a nap until the festivities started at 16:30. The festival being Shavuot, the Jewish holiday celebration for the day that Moses received the ten commandments. The festival looked more like a harvest festival with fresh produce everywhere, people wearing white and the fact that it was held on a field that was recently ploughed. It started with different groups of people singing songs. From the mothers with newly borns to the cycling club of Harduf. After almost an hour of not really understanding anything dinner was served. 12 tables full of quiche, pasta, rice, bread and salad. Each family that came to the festival brought quiche and cake, that was served afterwards and which I ate too much of. Almost three plates full of 15 different types of cakes and tarts. Being so full we went to sleep quiet early.

I originally planned on going back on Saturday when the buses start going again, but since Sunday is also a holiday the buses only go in Sunday night. I’m glad that I came to the farm to have some peace and quiet, a good shower, internet and of course to spend more time with Klara. As a bonus I got to experience Shavuot and over eat myself.

Saturday, June 2, 2012
Walk About Love Day 67 – 70 (28 – 31 May)

Resting at a traffic circle in En Hod

This was definitely one of the most bizarre weeks so far. It started with Klara and me coming back from the office where I published my previous post. I was going to leave in a few minutes, but just as we came around the corner we were surprised by Miriam, Joshua, Carrol and Serjay(?). After weeks of speculation of where they could possibly be they just arrived out of nowhere to Harduf. It was decided that I would stay another night and leave with them in the morning. They wanted to volunteer, but there were no more space for them.

The next morning after breakfast the 5 of us set off in three different directions. Miri and me to the walk, Carrol to some meditation centre and the other two to Avuka.

We got a ride from someone all the way from Adi, next to Harduf, to the South of Haifa. Even though we started late, got stuck in traffic, went shopping, waited for a bus, waited a looong time for a hitch to the beach and then walked to the tent we still made it before the walking circle.

We started walking at almost 12:00 on the beach for a short while, until we turned right to slowly start going to the Kinneret. The first 5km took us five hours, because of all the stops at places with ice cream or benches like at a playground in a Kibbutz. My last stop was at Ben* Bira’s place in En Hod, a artists village. Ben originally from the states is famous for his home made beer.

Vera couldn’t take the slow walking anymore and asked me to join her on her now infamous walk-straight-to-the-camp-without-breaks journeys. I took a photo of the map, but we still managed to lose the trail ever so often, bundu bashing or following wrong marked trails. I managed to get a sharp stick in my face next to my nose, but the bleeding stopped quick enough. The last two kilometers with nightfall we had to walk on a narrow winding road with no side skirts with Tina, the dog. We got hooted at quite often, but what could we do? We finally reached our destination in the dark at 20:00, but no camp was in sight. After looking around the picnic area Frieda, Shani and Miri came walking to us. Frieda just returned to the walk and the other two hitch hiked. The informed us that the crew is still on their way. We waited 30 minutes for the crew and then another hour and a half for the rest of the walkers. The camp was at a really nice picnic site in the forest near Bet Oren.

Tuesday morning I walked in the front with Vera and after less then 10 minutes of walking the group took their first break, so the two of us continued walking. We walked all the way to the big village. We didn’t know where or if there was a town centre so we bought falafel at a local school tuck shop and then waited on the trail for more than 2 hours for the group to catch up. We followed the group to the town centre where everyone was given an hour from 13:00 to do what they want. Me, Nikita, Miri and Frieda walked away from the main road to find a place quiet place to rest. We found a drive way in which I read the Hitch Hiker’s guide to the Galaxy that Nikita gave me this morning, the others all fell asleep.

Sleeping in someone’s drive way

That night we slept just outside the city in the forest near a Monastery. I didn’t go there though, because I wanted to finish the book, which I did and then started with the second book: The Restaurant at the end of the Universe.

Wednesday morning was very frustrating to some people, because no one knew what was going one. The previous night a survey was held to see who wants to go to the healing music festival on the weekend. If enough said yes we would go there, but it is at the top of the Kinneret more than 200km from us.

At the same time, Nikita, Frida and me were planning on going to Jordan and back to extend our visas. I checked the map and calculated that we would have to hitch at least 10 rides to get there and wanted to get a move on. Just as I wanted to get agitated, I reminded myself that the new me doesn’t get frustrated and just goes with the flow. A few minutes later I was rewarded with the news that the whole group is going to take a bus to the other side of the country which is much closer to the border, in fact we only needed four hitch hikes. At the border I went to the passport control counter and asked until when my current visa is valid. The women confirmed that it was valid until the 12th of June, but didn’t seem sure enough to my taste. Then finally I realise that there is no use in stressing about it, because even if they said it is valid for 10 months, they could still change their mind and say they made a typo and there would be nothing that I could do. So now I must just believe that everything will be ok. The other two continued to Jordan while I waited for them in the arrivals hall.

It took some time and a lot of money 300 NIS to go to Jordan and come back. They almost didn’t get their visas extended because it is illegal to cross the border for that purpose, but since it was not clear for exactly how long you need to stay in Jordan for it to become a visit they both got two more months.

When we left the border control grounds some hours later they did a last passport check. The fact that I did not cross the border, but have been sitting at the border for 3 or more hours seemed dodgy and they called in extra security who put me under a cross hearing for NOT crossing the border just after interrogating the other two on why they DID cross the border. I told them we are doing the Israel trail, but since we only had small bags with us they seemed skeptical. In the end it was all smiles and jokes about lions being the reason why there is not a public trail going through the whole of South Africa and we were free to go.

We got a free ride with a taxi and then had to wait really long in Bet She’an before someone finally picked as up at around 20:00. At the Tsemech junction we had to hitched a ride with another hitch hiker. We all got out at Kibbutz Kinneret where she stayed. She said she would take us to the Yardenit camp where the group is sleeping. Somehow we however first decided to drink something at the local restaurant next to the Joran river where pilgrims come to get baptised. We ended up drinking beer and eating lebaneh cheese and salad.

The next morning we could see that the camp was also right next to the Jordan river. Some of us went for a morning dip. There was even a rope to swing and fall into the water. Someone brought normal cereal, like cheerios and cini minis, with milk for breakfast. The true rumour started spreading that we had to walk more then 20km to get to the festival, but still everyone was slow paced and took their time packing up.

We started walking on the road that circled the Kinneret until we got to HaOn beach where we were suppose to camp for the weekend. We took a swim and then we stayed there for hours as if we didn’t have 18 more kilometers to go. A group of ten decided to hitch hike and by the end of the day only six people walked the whole way and only arrived at 21:00 or later. At the festival they tried to convince us to buy tickets for the festival for 165 NIS, but since we camped outside the fence they couldn’t force us. The music enthusiasts, which is most of the walkers, however bought tickets just to be able to hear the music from 300 meters closer, I didn’t.

Chica, the japanese girl, made sushi for everyone for dinner. It had all the right stuff right down to the ginger and soy sauce. I had my first encounter with sushi and even though I tried the vegetarian option it still tasted a bit to fishy for me. The inside together with soy sauce is rather tasty though.

It was a short quick week, but with a lot of unexpected adventures. I’m glad that I did the sea to sea trail earlier since we didn’t really do it with the walk this week. I can’t believe this month is over which means I’ve been here for three amazing months.

Monday, June 4, 2012
10th weekend: Healing music festival

Friday morning I woke at 07:00 from the heat in my tent, that I put up for the first time since the dessert. I finally got out at nine for the best breakfast: last night’s left over sushi rice with tahini, raisins and date syrup among other things.

After breakfast Lear, Pola, Dessie, Alon, Sam, Sergey and me embarked on a hiking journey. We first hitch hiked with three separate cars to the start of the Zika(?) river. The hike (on a marked trail) takes you through the river walking mostly knee deep, but with some places where swimming is necessary. Around lunch time we arrived at a big buffet lunch of some business outing next to the river that just ended. The caterers said we could have the left overs and before they even finished their sentence our plates was loaded with pasta, falafal, cheese and lots and lots of chocolate croissants, cinnamon buns and custard sticks.

After waiting for an hour or more for the food to settle we embarked on the long journey home. After some bundu bashing and walking in circles we arrived back at the camp dead tired. After laying down for a while I found the power to go take a shower and to put on long clothes against the mosquitos.

I started typing since before dinner and continued after playing a game of chess against Nikita. I was pleasantly interrupted once more for a message exchange with Frida with Jojoba oil. Now I’m finally up to speed again.

Few days later… For the first time in a few weeks I actually spent Shabbat resting and doing absolutely nothing. A think I played a game of chess and finished the second Douglas Adams book.

The other big happening was the creation of the Walk About Love board game, Nikita and me came up with the idea a week before. Vera made it so beautiful and just after nightfall it was ready to be played. It attracted quiet a lot of attention and the 6 players had a wonderful time, trying to get from Eilat to Mt Hermon as fast as possible. If you land on a coloured field you take a card that can differ from “you through salt in the tea move three blocks back” to “you found new sandals, add two to your next turn”. Also every weekend has a special activity or thing that happens when you land there.

All in all it was a fun resting weekend and I’m especially glad that I didn’t buy a festival ticket although the music in them distance was rather nice from time to time.

Saturday, June 23, 2012
Walk About Love final week: Day 71 to 77 (June 3 to 9)

I’ve been in South Africa for 11 days now and I already feel like going again, but do to certain circumstances I will probably be staying for a while. The reason that I’m only typing this now is because 5 hours after arriving in SA I embarked on another hiking trail with my old University hiking club. After that I just slept. Now I will try and remember the last week of my amazing time in Israel that already feels like years ago, but at the same time I can still hear the drums in my ears.

Sunday morning after the Healing Music Festival we were some of the last campers to leave after being threatened by the guards to have to pay for another day if we don’t leave in 10 minutes. Naturally it took much longer than 10 minutes to pack everything up and go. We started walking on the same road that me and the others came back on, on Friday. Just without the bundu-bash and getting lost part. We had a long lunch break at the spot where we found the buffet on Friday, unfortunately there were no buffet this time, but the swimming was nice.

After lunch we walked to the road circling the Kinneret, crossed it and then walked to a camp site next to the Jordan river north of the Galilee. The camp was already set-up by the camp crew on the river bank through some overgrowth. It was definitely the most beautiful camp of the North.

Ironically the food variety started to shrink, despite the fact that we were in the North always within a few kilometers of towns and shops. For dinner we had plain rice with plain Mash potatoes. I found the Mayonnaise from the sushi night to spice (sauce) it up a bit.

Monday’s food was even stranger. For breakfast we had a rice and carrot dish and then for lunch we got plain couscous that was overcooked and turned out like porridge. Ido, Shani and Mark left the journey for good and one could feel the Walk coming to an end.

We were informed that it was going to be a really long day of more than 20km. Lear had to go to his army base and said whoever wanted to come can join him, because there is a trail going from the base past some waterfalls to the camp. And it is only 8km long.

Lear, Maayan, Yuval and me set off while the others still did their morning stretches. At the road quickly found a hitch taking us all the way to Lear’s old army base. He went inside while the rest of us waited in the shade. After what felt like an hour he returned with snacks from the base.

After a few kilometers walking we reached the top of the valley where there were ruins from almost every century. From there it was a short hike to the top of the first waterfall where we made our first snack stop with Doritos, wafers and chocolate pudding.

We waited for the religious girls group to move on and then we went for a swim to the waterfall and did some jumping.

The second 34m high waterfall was definitely one of the highlights of Israel. It had a permanent rainbow at the bottom and the pink flowers in the valley bellow was so fairy like. We had a long break at the waterfall before the long way out of the valley, over the mountain and down to the camp.

We had to navigate our way passed mine fields on unmarked trails for awhile, before getting to the green trail leading down the mountain. After much light footed walking we got the some modern ruins, including a swimming pool built around a natural spring. We stopped for a Bamba break before continuing down a lush green plant tunnel (with mine fields on either side) to an old leaking Roman aqueduct. From there it was a relatively short walk through some orchids until the camp suddenly sprung up behind a tree.

The rest of the group arrived just before dark. They were all so tired and said that it was definitely the toughest day so far.

That night we had spaghetti which I managed to dish up before any other weird ingredients were added. I also found some chilli sauce. Later when the rest of the group got their food I tasted some of the final product and boy was I glad that I did what I did.

Tuesday’s hike took us to a amazing spring waterfall coming out of the mountain after some hiking through wheat fields.

Somehow almost five people had maps, but no-one knew where to go. Shelly, Yuval and me decided to go down to the road, hitch hike, buy ice cream and come back in the time it takes them to decide where to go. We went down to the road and to our surprise there was an ice cream truck right there. We ate our ice-cream and waited for the group to arrive, but the never did.

Shelly and Omer decided to try and find them while Yuval and me tried to hitch hike to the next valley where we will meet them. We waited and waited and for the first time in Israel no-one picked us up so we decided to walk. Just around the corner we saw a river coming down and a road going up next to it.

What a (un)pleasant mistake. We ended up getting stuck turned around found another way that got narrower and narrower. We had to crawl upstream through thick bushes until finally we reached the top, with one minor problem. A five meter thick thorn bush wall on all sides. Going down the stream again seemed even more difficult so through the thorn bush we went.

By some miracle we made it to the other side without losing too much blood, but the scratches will remain. Our troubles wasn’t over. We still couldn’t see any sign of the others or even a road for that matter. We did some more bundu-bashing through wild wheat. At long last we found a jeep track and then out of nowhere Tina came running towards us shortly followed by Shelly and Omer. They haven’t found the group either. We followed the road and before long we were back at the tarred road at the bottom of the mountain. Clearly not the way the group went. We decided to just walked on the road to the Kibbutz that we could already see in the distance.

Half-way Shelly said she can’t go further and we decided to hitch hike. It was a dangerous place to stop with no shoulders, but in the end someone picked us up and took us to the camp. We were the first ones there from those who walked. The camp was just next to the road in the Kibbutz close to a big carrot factory that worked right through the night. I started reading Huckle Berry Finn earlier this week and finished it just as it got to dark to read.

Later the night more people left the Walk. The two Maayans and Alona. Maayan is the third person that left the walk just before the end after starting with us in Eilat and walking almost every day.

This night some stars lined up and a few people went up the mountain to watch it, but I was too tired to join. Wednesday more Nikita, Vera and me decided it was time for a decent breakfast, so we went to the Kibbutz store and bought three types of bread, Cottage Cheese, Jam, Nutella, Chocolate milk, Ice tea and 37% chocolate cookies. It was obviously too much for us and even with Gabe’s help we could barely walk. Nikita and Vera even stayed with the camp crew this day.

I’m glad that I went with the group, because this day was another highlight of the journey. We walked next to the Jordan river almost the whole day. At the first stop the river was flowing quite strong. We walked 500m upstream and then jump in, letting the water take us down without having to swim.

At the lunch stop, just after some waterfalls the river open up and had big trees with ropes on either side. Just from pure gravity and momentum I managed to do a perfect back-flip off the rope.

The night’s camp was in a forest and almost everyone put out their mattresses and tents far from the circle.

On Thursday we officially started at the record breaking time of 08:35 to ascend towards Mt Hermon which we could see in the distance. We went into the Banias Nature reserve for lunch that only finished at four. Some of us time-travelled to the famous waterfall in 30 minutes. (The sign said it takes 70 minutes).

We still had to walk up to the Nimrod castle and then to the camp. Incidentally we arrived at the castle to late and we had to wait for the last person and then the ranger escorted us out to the other side so that we won’t visit the castle illegally after hours. The castle even from just outside was very impressive and the largest I have ever seen.

Before reaching camp we found an ancient amphitheatre and the musicians decided they won’t get a chance like this again to make music in such a historic location with the sun setting behind them.

At the camp we had one of the best surprises yet. Some army unity left two big pans full of chicken for us and since most of the Walk are vegetarian there were plenty of chicken for the non-vegetarians. I had three chicken wings and three more pieces of lemon and herb chicken fillets.

That night everyone was sleeping close to the fire again and we were singing and “dancing around the fire, around the fire” (one of the songs) until early in the morning. We even did the macarena at one point and many other old, classic, new and Hebrew songs.

Me enjoying Kunafe in Majdal Shams

On Friday we had to bundu-bash uphill to the most northern town of Israel* Majdal Shams, famous for the best Kunafa, an Arabic dessert. *(The inhabitants of Majdal Shams are considered Syrian citizens by the Syrian authorities. Since 1981 they have also been considered permanent residents of Israel. While they are entitled to full Israeli citizenship, only 10 percent of the Golan Druze have opted to become Israeli citizens. Those who apply for Israeli citizenship are entitled to vote, run for Knesset and receive an Israeli passport. For foreign travel, non-citizens are issued a laissez passer by the Israeli authorities. As Israel does not recognize their Syrian citizenship, they are defined in Israeli records as “residents of the Golan Heights.” Residents of Majdal Shams are not drafted by the Israel Defense Forces.)

After eating too much Kunafa, we had our last musical parade through the main street. After causing some traffic jams and receiving a lot of cheers we continued to the camp. We followed the Golan Heights trail on a steep climb on Heidi-looking terrain to our camp at the parking of the ski-resort.

That night it was Raya’s birthday and she organize more Kunafa and beer for everyone. What a feast! It was our last night together and everyone made music like it was the last night of the universe.

Saturday, the final day, everyone was slow to start. Eventually we got to the morning circle where everyone got a chance to say something. At 11:00 we finally started our final 600m ascend. It took some people like Vera only 90 minutes, while others only got to the top after more than 5 hours. At one spot there was still snow and the group I walked with had a snow fight.

At the top it was a bit of an anti-climax as we are not allowed to go to the very top which is an UN outpost. The cable car that we were going to take down said we had to pay and it closes in 15 minutes. Some of us went down before other’s even reached the top. At the bottom we waited at last nights camp for everyone to come back. We found out with a shock that there is no communal camp tonight and also no bus. Everyone had to find their own way home. Some people even left before the last ones arrived back from the top.

On top of Mt Hermon

A lot of people were quiet upset and confused with everyone suddenly leaving after they thought they would still see everyone for a week. Yuval invited whoever didn’t have a place to go to go with him and his sister to surprise his grandmother in Qiryat Shemona.

But I will write more about that in the final post. So this is how the Walk About Love ended. After three months of walking, eating and sleeping together everyone just scattered in all directions like gravity ceasing to exist. We tried to make the fair well easier by promising to see each other again, but now two weeks later I see that it won’t be that easy and that I probably won’t see a lot of my ‘brothers and sisters’ ever again.

After all the confusion and tumble drier of emotions one can reflect that this was an amazing journey with valuable life lessons learned and life long friends made that no one can take away from you. Thank you Walk About Love!

Saturday, June 23, 2012
Impulsiewe Israel Aftermath

Saturday, 9 June: So the journey has ended but I am still in Israel. I decided to take up Yuval on his offer. So Yuval, Bat-el, Frida, Nikita and Alon set off to his grandmother in the open Jeep that Alon’s uncle lended the Walk.

It was a cold ride down the mountain that took us three days to climb. We reached her house just after dusk. She was sitting outside with friends and was surprised indeed, but invited us all in and said we could stay.

She heated up the biggest variety of food that I have ever seen anyone have I their fridge at once. Since she is also Moroccan we ate until we couldn’t eat any more and then we had to eat some more. After dinner we watched a Danish movie, Rembrandt, that Frida brought from home.

Sunday we slept late and had the best breakfast of my life at 11:00. His grandmother made perfect flapjacks. The variety of things that we could put on is too much to mention, but my personal favourites were the date syrup, cottage cheese, chocolate sprinkles from Amsterdam and pecan nuts.

After breakfast we watched another Danish movie, Adam’s Apples. Frida left soon after with a bus as she had to meet a friend in Tel Aviv. The rest of us decided to hitch hike to Yuval’s house close to Tel Aviv after dropping off the Jeep at Alon’s uncle and going to a spring.

The spring wasn’t that amazing, but it was my last encounter with Israel’s nature and thus very special.

We split up in two groups. Yuval and me took the first car that stopped. It took us to a busy intersection and after waiting a while a TV reporter stopped who was on her way to Herzliya, where we want to go. We got dropped at a garage and then walked to a bridge where Yuval said his father will be passing soon. He pumps cement with big trucks and had to go help a truck that got stuck. It was already dark when a massive truck stopped next to us. Luckily the stuck truck started working again so his father took us to Yuval’s brother’s army base where his car is parked.

When we finally reached his house the other’s was already there. They also made it all the way with only three hitches.

In the mean time we found out that Yinon is having a after party at his house and everyone is going. So after a 22:00 dinner at Yuval’s house we went to Yinon’s place. There were so many people that we didn’t think we would see again, including people like Yamuna that left the walk weeks ago. Since we arrived so late some people even left already or passed out.

Shani invited me and Alon to stay at her place. We arrived there in the early morning hours, but the she first played Adele and other’s on the Keyboard while we were singing until 04:00.

On my last day in Israel, Monday, we slept until 11:00 and had breakfast at 12:00.

After packing my stuff we went to the Carmel market in Tel Aviv to do some shopping. I bought jelly sweets, halva, date syrup and aviators.

Back at Shani’s house I just put the new things in my bags and then I had to leave for the airport.

I made it to the airport without to much difficulty and with more than enough time on the clock, unlike Marleen the previous time. At the first security check they stared at me and my passport photo for awhile and then asked if I have another photo idetificator. I said I did, but it won’t help, because I look even less like me on my driver’s license.

After answering more questions about the names of my parents and grandparents and how to pronounce my surname, twice.

At the bagage check, everything was swiped and check in a machine which left me wondering what would happen if they did pick up traces of a bomb or drugs or whatever their looking for. I mean my bag has been lying in all imaginable places all over the country for three months.

The Halva was opened and the date syrup packed in a special box. Finally I got my boarding pass, but had to take my bag to a special elevator.

After the hand baggage check where they didn’t take my Ipad as some websites said they would I was home free. Although something could still have happened at the Turkey security in Istanbul, but luckily nothing did. The flight from Israel was delayed however and I ran like a crazy person to my the correct gate (which I only knew by looking at the South African bound people with their K-Way and First Ascent clothing and by closer inspection Afrikaans), just to sit and wait for another hour.

On the flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town some of the middle seats was open and I took one row and lied fully outstretched and slept until the flight attendant woke me up for the descent.

I made my grand entrance with my blue hippie pants, white WAL T-shirt, aviators and fashion hat. Unfortunately my parents wasn’t even there and Marike and Jaco almost didn’t recognize me.

I should probably stop here before I write the rest of my life story.


  • Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans
  • Be impulsive

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