This morning I woke up early for the Hanukkah tiyul (camping trip) training session. Lisa and I got dressed and then headed for the local bakery around 7:45 am. It’s less than a three minute walk from our house, and whenever you pass by, the most enticingly delicious smell hits your nose. It’s almost impossible to resist going in when walking by, and I hardly ever attempt to resist. Lisa and I go in to find the place packed with people. It’s Friday morning and everyone wants to get the tastiest burekas (essentially flakey pastries filled with a variety of either savory or sweet goodness) in town before Shabbat. Lisa and I joke about buying two of each bureka because they are all fresh out of the oven and still steaming. We load sweet and savory treats into our bag while we attempt to keep our place in line, because the line is practically out of the door. I pay no more than a dollar for my five burekas: two potato, two mushroom & onion, and one chocolate croissant. After Lisa pays for her food, handling the line and Hebrew like a veteran Israeli, we head over to the meeting place for our tiyul.
Our tiyul is just a training run through for the actual Hannukah trip when we will be taking all of our youth program kids in two weeks. Each Yahel volunteer will be in charge of their group of kids varying in ages between 11-16. We are also partnered with an active Friends by Nature volunteer/teenager who lives in Shapira. When everyone had gathered at the meeting spot, we left in the bus to our destination. We arrived at the Luzit Caves first, we had to wait for the other youth group counselors, who would be leading their own groups from their respective Ethiopian communities across Israel. It was nice seeing familiar faces and kids from other cities. We all gathered around a huge Oak tree to discuss the plan for the day and what to do with the kids. Maps were handed out with the itinerary and we discussed games and stories that we would do with the kids the following week. Our hike would include a competition between all the different groups to see who could answer trivia about the places we’d be hiking through: the Luzit caves, Mesoa Veiw Point and the Midras Ruins were all stopping points on our eight km hike. Along with what Israelis call “snapling,” which is repelling down a small cliff at the end.
We started our test-run hike, so we all would know which trail to take and could identify different flowers and trees, as well as stories about the area to tell our youth groups when the real hike took place. It was a beautiful hike that took almost four hours. It had just rained the previous night and the countryside was green and blooming with that fresh, just rained smell in the air. I can only hope that the actual trip is just as beautiful and fun. There was never a dull moment during the whole hike.
There’s nothing better than being in nature and working with amazing people who wish to do good in the world. In the upcoming trip I hope the kids will enjoy the tiyul as much as I did, and I know now that I’m fully prepared to lead my group, with the proper knowledge, interesting stories and trivia to share along the way.