The Israeli coastline
My first day in Israel was probably the longest day of my life: 34 waking hours. I had to wake up at 5:45am to get to the airport at 8am for a 12pm flight. (The reason why we had to get there so early is because El Al, the Israeli airline, requires extra security. Before I could check my bags I had to undergo an interrogation of sorts. The first question (in Hebrew) was "Do you speak Hebrew?" and because I do speak a little Hebrew I said (in Hebrew) "Yes." Then the rapid-fire questions began (once again, all in Hebrew): Where did you learn Hebrew? Does anyone in your family speak Hebrew? Who? Why are you going to Israel? Have you ever been there before? Do you have any bombs? She spoke really quickly so it was hard for me to process what she was saying (the last time I used my Hebrew skills was probably when I was 16) and I got confused by one of her questions, but nevertheless she let me through.
Anyway, the flight was 10 hours and because it was in the middle of the day and planes are not very comfortable, I was unable to sleep on the plane. I also didn't eat anything on the flight because my weight that morning was "bad."
So we arrived at Ben Gurion Airport at about 5:45am Israeli Time, which really felt like 10:45pm Eastern Time. But we were not allowed to sleep or rest or anything-- we were thrown right into activity. But once I stepped off the plane I felt dizzy and weak, and I thought I was going to collapse. I decided to go and find something to eat to restore my blood sugar levels, but before I could do that I vomited in an airport garbage can in front of my 38 new tripmates. After I did this I felt better, so I was ready to engage in our activities.
First we took a hike up to a look-out and looked at the Israeli Mediterranean coastline (see picture above). It was beautiful.
From there we went to the Jordan River, where we went rafting. I thought this was a great first activity because it was fun, and it served as a team-building exercise between raftmates. I was in a raft with two other girls and one guy, and one of the girls and the guy turned out to be among my best friends on the trip.
We finished this 34 hour day with Shabbat dinner on the kibbutz at which we were going to stay for 3 nights. I felt a little resentful of this activity because I don't appreciate forced religion. I figured that the reason why this trip was free was because some donor wanted to make sure that my generation doesn't forget about our religious heritage. So I participated a little bit because I did not want to seem ungrateful or noncompliant.
I had no trouble falling asleep that night.