Originally posted September 30, 2009
There we were, hiking up the black asphalt, as we’d been doing for the last few hours, and it still felt like we were getting no closer to the finish line. We did inch forward bit by bit, but on the 2nd day we moved much slower and everything was more exhausting than it had been 3 minutes ago.
So I came back early, and it was the best decision ever!
I left early yesterday for Tiberius and we (five friends and me) started hiking south along the sea after finding out there really isn’t a path around the sea, just highway 90/87. We started out around 11am with a decent pace and were actually able to hold on to it the whole day. We did hike during the hottest part of the day, which was unfortunate, but with some great SPF 45 spray-on sunblock I am no darker or redder than when I left. For lunch we stopped at the Kinneret Cemetery, in the exact place we were just three weeks ago, and joked about how we never thought we’d be back so soon or on such a ridiculous mission. A few hours in, two other friends caught up with us and we continued on, but now in the shade. I had my small backpack on, stuffed with food and water, and generally felt okay. We drank lots of water but stayed thirsty so we drank more. Along the way, Ben and Simon got visors and since Ben was always in the front and had a yellow visor, we joked that we were all racing together in the Tour. Many people told us we were crazy as we hiked, but we just kept on truckin’.
Around 5pm the sun started to set, so we camped at the beach and enjoyed the sunset over Tiberius, which was now across the sea. Sounds lovely, but was actually quite windy at En Gev. It was an official camping spot so there were some fellow campers, including one with a guitar. We had a leisurely dinner and crawled into our sleeping bags, or in my case, sleeping blanket. It could have been worse, but I also could have gotten more sleep. The wind was chilly and, despite the donation of a few sweatshirts, I stayed pretty chilled all night. I found out in the morning that I didn’t fare much worse than anyone with a sleeping bag, which was a little comforting.
We woke up pretty early with the sun and after breakfast, started on our way again. We stopped for a swim after the sun had risen and we were heating up, and it felt great. After a bit we stopped again for a rest, and Ben said, “Tiberius is following us”. Sure enough, we all turned around and Tiberius seemed to be in the exact same spot (across from us) as it had been when we woke up this morning. A little discouraging, but we could see on the map that we were making progress. We continued hiking until lunch, which coincided with a restaurant along the road. I ate my PB+J and I drank the hot water that came out of the tap quite happily while others ordered food. Ben went on to find cheaper food, and I joked “and then there were seven”. After lunch we trudged on (as we had resorted to trudging rather than walking or hiking, like we’d been doing the day before), and Kelsey decided she’d had enough and took a sherut (shared taxi/mini bus) to the beach we were going to meet at. And then there were six.
Ironically enough, I was soon to go too. Madison had been pulling up the rear consistently (with me next in line) and at one point, just after crossing the Jordan River in the north, decided she’d had enough. So she caught a sherut while I tried to convince myself that I would only keep going as long as I was still having fun, and that slow and steady wins the race. Just then, Madison pulled around in the sherut to see if I wanted a ride, and in minutes I was in the air-conditioned heaven of a moving vehicle. We left the four to continue on their way, and Ben apparently was close to Tiberius still searching for food, way ahead of all of us. The sherut took us back around the sea, so we saw all that we’d accomplished in the last day and a half: 25 miles of highway. Luckily it was flat all the way, or that 25 would have been more like 5.
Madison and I limped into Tiberius and got something sugary and coffeey/fruity to drink before finding another sherut back to Haifa, where we finally took a bus back up to school. It did end up that slow and steady wins the race: we were the first back to school! We talked about the fun we’d had, and laughed about how awkward and painfully we walked; our feet were covered in blisters. It was a combination of bad footwear, lacking preparation, and too much pavement that left us walking stiff-legged and blistered. Luckily my Egypt plans start out with a lot of travel, so I don’t have to walk much for a few days.
All in all, it really was a fun experience but I am so glad I got out when I did. I heard from the last four that they are camping on a beach tonight and got free dinner. That’s great for them, but I got a hot shower in my bathroom and I get to sleep in my bed and not wake up with the sun. Definitely better in my opinion.
Tomorrow evening I’m off to Egypt with Niall and Rachel for the week, and I can’t wait!
Wish me happy travels (and quiet sleeper-bus rides)!