Friday, 8 August 2014

Chasing my ride through Israel to retrieve my camera

Tiverias and Sea of Galilee
When I was in Cartagena, Colombia, a year ago, I went with a group of backpackers to Playa Blanca, where we stayed for a couple of days! One of people was Uria, an Israeli guy, a bit different from the regular Israeli crowds, interesting and easy to talk to. The second night on the beach while having dinner, just by chance, Uria was sitting next to two brother from Palestine! And all three of them were drinking beers together and there was no sign of hostility. It was pretty interesting to follow their conversation and see how despite the conflict and nationalities, we are all human after all.

My time in Israel was very limited but when Uria invited me to visit him in the kibbutz, I didn´t think twice. He lives in Afiqim, right next to Tiverias and the Sea of Galilee (which is actually a fresh water lake. This is where Jesus calmed the stormy sea and walked on the water). I only spent one night in the kibbutz but Uria tried to show me as much as possible around it and even made some Yemeni food (his origin is Yemeni). We made an attempt to go to the hot springs near the kibbutz only men were allowed because it was Monday and the extremely religious Jewesh Orthodox would go in it. That was the first time I realized how similar Israel is to some Muslim countries I’ve been to in certain things (dividing women and men for example).
Somewhere in the hills. Shit weather though
The kibbutz was also very beautiful, green and tranquil. They all knew each other and the ones who didn’t speak English when asking for directions spoke Russian so no problem with communication there. Also no one locked the houses for my surprise which was also pretty nice.
Afiqim kibbutz

Favourite Stop sign

Tiverias looked so beautiful with its lake, banana plantations (yes, strange, isn’t it!), lots of fruit trees and the desert. 
Sea of Galilee

The road through the dessert. Syria and Jordan on the other side
My bus ride from Tel Aviv to Tiverias took forever, stopping anywhere to drop off and pick up soldiers so I discarded the option of taking buses again. The new destination was Jerusalem and I just switched to hitchhiking mode again. Hitch hiking is very common in Israel. Some people even go to work or school every day hitch hiking. There is usually a known spot in every town where you just wait for your ride. You don´t even need to put you thumb up, people know and just stop and offer to take you if you go same direction. Pretty good system I think!

After a few short rides I got a ride with a guy who was quite interesting and was willing to tell me all about his childhood, life together with Arabs, his denial to go to the army again…We kept talking and he even made a short stop so I take some photos of the desert. He dropped me off somewhere on the highway and turned direction Ariel, a small town where he was studying. Once he left I realized I’ve must have dropped my camera in the car. Two and a half years around the world, I managed to not lose it or get robbed and 3 days before going back to my homeland, I lost it. And the only thing I knew about him was that he studies Electrical Engineering in Ariel, didn’t know his name, didn’t even remember what colour the car was, nothing! And all the photos from last 3 countries (New Zealand, Japan and Israel) were lost, no backup! Such an idiot I thought! All at the end of my trip! I kept telling myself I have to get it back, there must be a way, I´ll find him…So instead of going to Jerusalem I started hitch hiking to Ariel (wherever that is)…The landscape was amazing though - white desert rocky mountains, I so needed my camera.. Wasn’t that easy, had to cross Palestinian and Israeli territories, which made it more complicated (Palestinians are not allowed to drive in some areas, Israelis are not either in others, there were border controls too…) but I made it. When I finally got to building Number 12 (Electrical Engineering) of Ariel’s University and was thinking of a plan how I’m gonna find him…And then the first person I saw was him! I couldn’t believe my luck! You can imagine my euphoria screaming “I found you, I found you”! He was quite confused seeing me after having left me 3 hours earlier on the highway to Jerusalem. We found my camera stuck between the seat and the door, I must have dropped it somehow.

I knew it before but now I am even more convinced that everything is possible when you believe it. Even to follow your ride across a country of conflict, with almost no chance to succeed! But it worked!
It was no problem getting a ride to Jerusalem from I was the happiest person in the world, who would refuse to give me a ride seeing me so happy :)
Soldiers getting into a bus in Ariel

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