Sara Westfall writes:
Today I am officially half way through this trip. I’ve gone through a lot so far: excitement, home sickness, food cravings, fatigue, angst, fun, adventure, awe, reverence, and friendship. I think I’ve come far, learned a lot and not just about digging. Last week we said goodbye to the 3 weekers. I miss them dearly. I made some awesome friends and the group all around was fun and energetic. We really bonded in the short amount of time we were together. I don’t know about this new group. They seem somewhat quiet and reserved. However, I will be patient and give them a chance to get into the routine of things around here. Although my new square is frustrating (a wall and lots of random stones), my new square mate, Joey, makes it better. I also really like being a leader in my area. I guess I learned a lot from the first session after all.
On a lighter note (at least now it is) I had a crazy tourist adventure this weekend. My next door neighbor Justine and I went to Tiberias and Nazareth. Despite the ridiculous amount of money we had to spend to get around, everything went fine until we had to come back to the kibbutz. While waiting for the bus in Nazareth, a sherut passed by and asked where we were going. We told them we were going to Afula and from there to our kibbutz. He told us he would take us for 15 shekels each to Afula. We jumped at the opportunity and climbed in. Half way there, the driver tells us he’ll drop us off at Megiddo because it’s much closer to the kibbutz. In a moment of tourist stupidity we said okay. Now keep in mind, Megiddo isn’t a town and it was still Shabbat. We arrived at Megiddo Junction and the driver lets us off on the side of the road. I freaked out a little, but stayed calm. At first we tried to walk back. After 15 minutes we realized that wasn’t going to happen, so we walked back to the junction and into a gas station (walking over a watermelon field to get there). We told them our predicament and asked them to call us a cab. They were very helpful, but they said no cabs were available as it was still Shabbat. As we walked out of the gas station I started to really panic. We made it back to the junction. Thankfully a sherut came by and we flagged him down. We ran across two lanes of traffic and asked him to take us to Afula. After everyone got off the sherut in Afula, we asked him to take us to the kibbutz, but he said no and that there was a bus. Well, there was no bus and the whole city looked pretty deserted. We saw a cab in an alley and we ran for it. The driver didn’t speak much English, but knew where the kibbutz was. He way overcharged us, but it was Shabbat and he didn’t speak English. I was so happy to be back at the kibbutz – happier than even the toughest day at the dig.
So here are some tips for travelers to Israel that I learned this weekend:
- Be where you need to be BEFORE Shabbat begins (we really should have done Nazareth on Friday and gone to Tiberias before Shabbat began)
- Try to limit any travel on Shabbat – there are fewer cabs and the drivers know it thus charging you much more
- Don’t trust cab drivers in general
- If you want to get baptized in the Jordan River its B.Y.O.P. (Bring Your Own Priest/Pastor)
- Eat before Shabbat or bring food with you (or else you’re stuck at McDonalds)
- Do it yourself can be way cheaper than tours if you do it right