Israel Journey 3B: Update #3

Hello, friends and family! Today’s updates come from Steven H. and Ryan Silverman!

By Steven H
We are having lots of fun in Israel. On Sunday, we left our accommodations in Akko, and went north to Rosh Hanikra. At Rosh Hanikra, we saw the Mediterranean Sea break down the mountains made of soft chalk rock. We saw grottoes that the sea carved out, and the train tracks built by the British in 1916. After Rosh Hanikra, we went to a community for the mentally disabled. We made art, played music, and brought animals to the people who were extremely happy for us to be there.

On Monday, we went to a forest in between the Galilee and the Mediterranean. Here we helped clear land for goats to graze. We helped “The New Guardian,” an organization that protects farmers’ land and tries to get the people of Israel to reconnect with the land. After helping clear a forest, we cooked our own pita for lunch!

Tuesday, we visited a freshwater spring where we learned about the water in the Golan Heights. After that, we went to a kibbutz where we ate lunch and from there we went on a Jeep tour. On this tour, we saw an abandoned Israeli tank that would have fired shells at Syria in the 60’s and 70’s. We then went to trenches that were used in the Six Day War and we saw a town in Syria. Finally, we went to an abandoned Syrian hospital from the Six Day War.

We ended the day at the Kineret, and had a BBQ for American Independence Day!

The Three Lychees: A Short Story
By Ryan Silverman

Black, dark, ash covered the area of half a football field. Only small pockets of dirt were visible amongst the ebony blanket. It was hard not to see the section, the rest of the Golan Heights was dressed in mostly long gold grass.

It was only a short bumpy ride and quite a few cows before we got to our next destination.  We arrived to a large old structure, made of stone and rusted iron wire, twisted in every which way. The building was blistered in graffiti of all kinds, some intricate art, others just names, some in Hebrew, and others in English. We shuffled out of the Jeep and our tour guide gave our group a briefing on the history of the mysterious structure. She explained it was a Syrian hospital used until it was conquered by Israel in 1967 during the Six Days War. After the lecture was over, we walked into the hospital. To the left, a hallway of rooms stood. In front of us was a spiral stair case with wide steps. The right side mirrored the left, but one key detail set it apart. A massive graffiti mural covered the wall. We decided to explore the left hallway. It was filled with rooms that were bare, except for graffiti. All electrical components were ripped out; only pipes carrying electric wires could be seen. On the next floor there was an almost identical staircase that led to the roof. On top of it were huge pieces of rock with rusted support wires. It was a stairway to the sun, broken by the violence of war. 

After we left the hospital, it was time for another rocky Jeep ride, this time back to the kibbutz we started at. When we arrived, I saw a girl from my group eating an orange creamsicle, my favorite! I asked her where she got it and she pointed me towards the convenience store on the kibbutz. After a quick stroll on the sunny sidewalk, surrounded by palm trees, I walked into the store and looked to see what it had to offer. The store was dull, scattered with ice cream freezers everywhere! I was going through the shop when I saw a basket of peculiar fruits. The fruits were a little smaller than a ping pong balloon covered in a tough skin. They were like planets filled with mountains with yellow bottoms and red peaks. I looked at the sign attached to it. It was covered in Hebrew, which I could not read. In the center was “13 ₪”. I presumed the sign named the fruit and gave information for price per a kilo. I decided to take three because I like to try new things.

I was informed they were lychees before I went into line.  I placed my three lychees on the conveyor and waited to pay. As the cashier was about to weight the fruit, I realized I left my wallet on the bus because I assumed I would not need it. In a panic, I asked my friend to borrow money. As he started searching for shekels, the cashier handed me the three lychees and said, “Have a good day.” I questioned the cashier on giving the fruit to me with no payment. The cashier responded again with “Have a good day.” I thanked the cashier and ran to the bus. I rushed to go to my seat, grabbed my backpack, and retrieved my wallet from it. I sprinted back to the store. From my wallet, I took out a 10 shekel piece and placed it on the cashier’s counter. The cashier gave back the coin and repeated again with “Have a good day.” When I tried again, the cashier gave a different response. The cashier told me, “It’s on the house!”

Later, I peeled one of my three lychees. Inside the hard skin was a white grape-like flesh. I bit into the fruit. It was sweet and delicious!  I learned that kindness can be found anywhere! And sometimes, it comes in the form of three lychees.

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