Wednesday, January 2, 2008
When the year 2007 began, I was in Istanbul. A group of travelers managed to drag me with them from there to a mountaintop in Bulgaria. It's a long and pretty crazy story, I'll just mention that they brought up the idea one hour before their 14 hour train to Sofia departed. Thankfully, I was game.
This year may have begun a little less dramatically, but there's a parallel. I was sitting at home last night, working peacefully, when the text message came: "Yuval, Maya and I are dying to get out of town. Be our tour guide. -Osnat". Resistance was futile ("Spontaneity, Yuval! Spontaneity!") nor did I never end up being the tour guide. My Friends picked the destination: mountaintop Kibbutz Misgav Am, a three hour drive from the city. It is Israel's northernmost point.
Today, a real winter morning found me in a room full of Hindu texts and little stickers saying "Aum Sweet Aum". it belongs to a friend of a friend of my travel companions, who was kind enough to put me up for the night.
Outside, past the ceder trees, the lawns populated by lazy kibbutz cats and the many bomb shelter entrances, waited a magnificent view of the Golan heights topped with snow-capped Mt. Hermon, and also of southern Syria and Lebanon, where cars drive slowly along village roads I will probably never walk. Pretty towns hug the Lebanese hills, sticking mosque minarets at the cold sky. A Hizbullah flag was waving on a nearby hill, not far from a U.N. base. Today visibility is limited, but at night the lights spread all the way to the Phoenician coast and the Damascus Plateau.
What's crazier is that tomorrow I have to be in Eilat for work. That's eight hours away from here by car and in Israeli terms - infinitely far. Never before have I crossed my country from one end to the other in 24 hours. I can't wait to be shocked by the climate change - stark, rocky desert instead of freezing, green hills. In Eilat there's a classical music festival waiting to be covered and a hotel to stay in, no more cats named Shakti nor climbing to the rooftops of old fortresses in the middle of the night, in wool hats and scarves. I can only hope to be just as much of a pushover in 2009.