Sunday, April 21, 2013

Words Hurt Like Sticks and Stones

      Ok I have basically decided that my finish line to the end of this ridiculous hike has come early. I am still at odds with my myself with it but I figured I trully can't put myself through the physical, mental, and emotional struggles of what has been truly the hardest couple months of my life.

   I would like to begin before the beginning, before February 28th 2013. Thank you Yaron who directed me to Walk About Love. We met at the beginning of my stay in Israel where we talked about a lot of different things including nutrition, working out, and the Shvil. I told him I wanted to hike Israel, Shvil Israel as it is known. To answer why: simply put, I always look for the next ridiculous adventure to fail at (I will explain the fail part later on). It was a great few hours of chatting and I hope we do it again. a few days later I get a facebook message from Yaron with links to different forums to find people to walk with and a link to Walk About Love. As I browsed through the site I couldn't help but think "Well, I have everything set up for me!" A walk with a large group that looks like fun, I get my stuff carried around for me, food set up,  plus there is a group where there will pretty much be someone who knows the trail there explaining it to me, lastly I will get to meet a bunch of chill people who want to hike Israel just as I do. 

   You ever have an odd instict you can't explain? I found the ideal group to walk with, I found the ideal company to help me reach goals I set and yet even then for some reason something didn't feel right. I can't explain it. I just continued to tell myself it was my fear talking and who knows maybe it was but I look back at it and I think I don't regret not listening but what would have happened if I did? Talking to Rea who is the one who created Walk About Love reassured me that it was the correct path. I asked him if I could last being gluten and sugar free and he assured me it would be fine, I asked about how hard it was and he assured me that it was tough but not hard to where a young girl who has been walking for some time can't handle, and he assured me that the people are just a blast.  So I went for it! 


   Day 1 began with me going HOLY SHIT I IS SCARED!!!! I first met Jacky, Sarah, Natalie, and Shachar. Four interesting characters I hope to keep in touch with. Then more people began to come and  gather next to the train station in Arlozorov, Tel Aviv. Soon I met Eden, Atar, and Noy who are the three most amazing young women you will meet. A trio that came together and they stuck together even after they decided to leave early so they can enjoy the path on their own. I also met Daniel, Avi, Uri, and many others that day before the bus arrived. When the bus drove off it made a pit stop where I met BOBBY!!!! Bobby was a great friend and I hope he gets in contact with me. We hung out in Eilat for far to long talked about a lot of personal things and bonded like crazy and what's cool is he lives in San Francisco (not to far from San Diego). That first weekend was great we explored Eilat, hung out on the beach and met some interesting locals including a young New Yorker Chassidic man who put his religion aside to figure out who he is. I learned he is a weird guy trying to just find some weird girl to be with considering he started flirting with me while I was hanging out with Bobby.  Sunday morning we began the hike and that was the day I was so stocked!!!! it was hard, and fun, hot, exhausting and such an amazing view in every direction with a group of people who just wanted nothing but love. After the hike I think people immediately realized that first off the food not to horrible and second that there were certain people who would be in the kitchen the entire time (including myself). As the hike continued I began to feel the struggle physically. I tried to fight every ounce of my physical issues just to walk. I have been taking medication and it had affected my ability to move, I had knee pains, back pains, and the most excrutiating cramps a girl can get. It wasn't to long till I became known as part of camp crew since there were many days where I couldn't completely walk and I would just cook which I was ok with. I didn't mind making many different soups, rice dishes, salads and breakfasts. I didn't mind scavaging through the truck to be creative at all. 

   Eventually I had to return to civilization for a short period of time to take care of the odd things my medication was causing.  I spent a couple days taking care of it and ran back to the Walk. I slowly began to see the changes in the group when I came back. It wasn't to apparaent but something felt odd. I know at the time it was the people that left the group. Bobby left that weekend and quite a few others. It was very different afterwards. I have to say thank goodness for getting lost with Brian. Brian who I also met in Eilat with the group is a man who I enjoyed talking with about movies, politics and family along with listening to his jokes. The way the walking began to look like was this: instead of the whole group walking together and waiting for each other there would be different groups (sort of). One group fastest than the rest who wanted to keep going rather than sit for an hour at a time. then there was the middle group which was a dispersed group of two-three people at a time walking together than the slower group of people who either just had a hard time walking or enjoyed taking their time. sitting in various locations eating and grabbing a blunt or a cigarette as the coffee or tea was being brewed. I was in the middle group, usually while walking with Brian. Ok getting lost was probably the first time we started walking together but it was definitely a bonding experience. I recall sitting across a tree on a bunch of rocks with the group surounding the tree and the area it layed in. after about 10-15 minutes we watched the first group decide it was time for them to begin walking after everyone had arrived and after they grabbed a quick snack for some energy as it was hot as can be and energy was definitely used up rather quickly. A few minutes after Brian and I decided it was safe enough to keep walking and when we see the group that had left turn that would be the direction we would go. At least thats what I was thinking. I was also thinking that I knew we were supposed to turn onto the blue trail and worst comes to worst we would see the slow group behind us. Boy, was I wrong! We entered a rather large valley where to be honest I stopped paying attention to where we were after a little bit, I just got so wrapped up in the conversation. Nothing like talking about British shows, great American comedies and how Israel can prosper greatly if the Battery swap stations would actually expand world wide. After a while I realized we may have gone to far into the valley and the fact that we could see neither the faster group or the slower group worried us both. We started to pay more attention to the area and decided we will try to see if there is a path to the left because honestly I wasn't even sure we went straight the whole way. As we got closer to the end of the valley we decided to turn left when we arrived to the end since that was the direction of west and west is where we had to go. Turning Left at the end led us eventually to the black trail. I just thank g-d we found a trail to follow at that time because for every trail there is an end, right? We continued on for a little longer hoping to find someone or something to lead us to the right direction. What I call our first moment of good luck was a glimpse of our cars. In the distance about a kilometer away we see movement believing first that it is people until we realize they are moving faster than a person and are rather larger than people. To top it of they look like cars. These cars first a red truck with a blue trailer behind it looked awfully familiar and then the white jeep like car with another blue trailer behind it also looking way to familiar. We got a little overly excited which I believe we had the right to. For some reason in my head at least I believed getting to that point where we saw the cars because if we did so we would find a trail and the campsite. I was partially right with the fact that we found a trail. We found the red trail leading to another end. Two reason we decided to follow red: 1. was would continue west if we did so and 2. was that for some odd reason I had this gut wrenching feeling we had to stick to the red trail. The red trail was something that became the longest few hours of my life although I still enjoyed the great conversations we had. We even stopped for a few where I nearly lost the Compass that Brian instinctively brought with him, then we also sat to drink and rest a little where Brian nearly lost his phone (lets just say our minds were on overdrive and our bodies were tired so thinking properly wasn't always the case. Eventually as I weakened and we both ran out of water we realized that A. we have to find a point to rest for the night since it was getting dark soon B. we should find a place to get warm and C. we may even have to survive off of the trees in the desert for a while. We picked a point which was what seemed to be the "last" mountain meaning that it was the last one in our view however it certainly wasn't the last mountain. There Brian would try to climb up the mountain to find service so he can call Rea. My phone was minus batteries and even if I did have batterries I too wouldn't have service. We were getting close to the mountain and to the point where I would just give in when low and behold another struck of luck which wasn't the second one but it was after a few strokes of luck like finding a shirt in the distance after debating on going on the green trail instead of continuing on the red (we continued on red). This car was driving in the opposite direction and I notice the lights first. I screamed for joy, pointed in the distance and instead of screaming "I am done" I got to scream "CAR!" The car slowed down and I notice for young men probably about the same age as myself. the guy in the passenger seat asked if we were looking for a guy named Rea even before we mentioned we were lost. We were baffled by this but it turned out that there were more lost. They mentioned that there were four girls also lost on the same trail fairly close by. They were about five kilometers on the same trail and as they whipped out their maps the guys pointed out that Rea was about fifteen kilometers away on a completely different trail. The girls already had a camp set up and honestly walking an hour on the same trail sounded so much wiser than walking to find a different trail so we find the campsite we shouldl be at. The guys were so kind they noticed my exhaustion and two of them got out of the car to wait in that area as the other two drove us to the campsite where the girls were and they gave us a few large water bottles. THANK YOU SO MUCH! As I saw which girls were lost I cried for joy and in shear pain. I first saw Yarden and that is when the tears came out and then Eldar. To see both of them was a gift from g-d. Then I saw Yarden's mother and her Grandmother and thought to myself "Well shiz, if the family trio who normally kick a** at these trails are lost than this trail was hard." I also noticed the father and son who came for the week. The poor boy was passed out, sleeping away the day as the father was trying to find a way to keep us warm. Next to us was another camping group. A small group who were also so kind. They fed us and gave us warm clothes for the night. It turned out as well that the campsite we were at was the one that would be our site for the next day. Honestly that was our second to last struck of luck. imagine we could just relax here tomorrow as the group arrives here. It sounded like such a great plan until Brian and a couple of the guys from the other group somehow got service and called up Rea (our last struck of luck). To be honest it was to cold not to have a large fire and large fire was with the group. We eventually were picked up by Rea brought back and it ended up being a great night and a fun story to tell. 

  After getting lost I think my mindset changed big time for me. I wanted to continue on with the group no matter if that meant going with those who went faster or those who went slower. It was safer for myself and for others. Brian and I continued to walk together a lot however I also walked alone close to the group a few times or with others chatiting about life. I came back to Ramat Hasharon again for Passover with the family and I got the pleasure of having lunch with Shvartzi and her family which was so fun. I swear it is like watching the Israeli version of Married With Children, they communicated via loud speaking, shouting and arguing yet you can feel that there was this odd sense that everyone loved eachother far to much. This week was the week I realized how much I miss home and to be honest I still miss it greatly. I have ten weeks left without my parents and it has been killing me. It has been months since I have been able to cook up over easy eggs for my ICNIC (mother) or a delicious shake and salad for my ABBA (dad). It has been months since I have seen Adam and Danny and I missed everyone's birthday to top it off missing Passover seder with them just hit me in the chest. After a few days I returned to Walk About Love and continued walking with the group realizing that the group has drastically changed. A week with families and a week of quiet people which was nice but this was the start of noticing that the group was becoming more of just a set of people around a fire place that would separate for the walk. Walking became second nature yet the pain of walking also became second nature and I realized this week that I was beginning to lose my want to make it to the end. Luckily I got to meet Lorraine as well as Sophia both somehow boost my staying for a little bit longer. Lorraine a woman who now lives in Egypt yet is from Whales is an older woman who can kick anyones but to Timbucktoo and Sophia a young woman who works as a birthing dula (one of the most interesting lines of work there is and no, it's not a midwife.) A dula is basically a person who helps you throughout your birth, They comfort you and take care of you while in birth and labor. It is basically like having a friend who knows a whole lot about birth and what to do (if I am missing something let me know). Anywho it  was people like this that brought me back to the walk after another third time coming back to Ramat Hasharon this time to make sure my VISA was in order, I had to reaply for a VISA since my three month VISA was up and still is. I still haven't gotten a new VISA which is another story in itself. I came back to Walk About Love in Jerusalem where I notice the change even more and at this point it wasn't looking pretty at all. I spent Thursday night with Rea and Tom who were at the site where we cooked delicous food while the rest of the group explored the city. Friday I spent in the old city with Brian and eventually was pleased to ad Orly who was also a part of the group for a short time. We spent a lot of time at a rooftop cafe in the old city, walking the Palestinian side of the shuk to find some great cheap sandles for Brian and other things. After the day I was picked up by Danielle a friend who lives North of Jerusalem (fairly close). I spent the night there having a delicious salmon Shabbat dinner with the Cohens (one of my favorite Israeli families), then spent the night in a warm bed. I spent another Day in the old city, this time with the Cohens including the grandfather who gives these crazy tours of the alley ways of the city and who knows more about the city than any tour guide you will meet. For lunch we returned to the grandparents apartment for a delicious meal of Chunt. My last activety was a movie with Dorit, Daniel and Ohad. We saw Olympus Has Fallen. It was such a great film with Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckart, Morgan Freeman and more great actors and actresses. The movie was basically about how a N. Korean terrorist group takes over the white house and Gerard Butler kicks a** (everyone should see it). I returned to the group that night passed out and the next day we started walking.  To be honest this last week was painful, my back has still been hurting and mentally this group has been hard to deal with. Not saying I don't enjoy their company but it turned into a small group for one and two they have made it clear that they have been annoyed by the fact that I eat different food, I don't always just want to sit and do nothing for hours when we have another eleven kilometers to walk and I would be pleased if people would actually wake up early for the walk rather than wake up at 7:00 and start walking at 10:00. 

  Allow me to explain myself to whoever reads this and to the people of the group. As I mentioned before you are all pretty awesome and strong and I would love to hang out with you outside of the walk and I hope this blog doesn't change that oppurtunity. Now I need you to know where I come from because I will also explain why I have chosen to stop walking with you all as well. I cook food for you all and most of the time you enjoy it and I do it for you but I also make separte dishes for myself because I don't eat white rice often I certainly don't eat porridge, or oatmeal that isn't gluten free and yes  I am sugar free. Because of these reasons rather than making the group have to think about adding sugar or gluten everytime a large meal is made it is easier for myself to just jump into the trailer and find something for myself. I want to continue walking because one of my greatest fears on this trip has been that someone will get lost and hurt big time, and just the thought of someone getting lost breaks my heart. Lastly, I want to get the group going in the morning because I am certain it would be more enjoyable for the group to get to the camp and have a small jam setion, or be able to explore the campsite. This whole trip I have thought about everyone else not because it is what I should do but because it is who I am and for some reason a few of you haven't taken the time to see this or a few of you have decided to make a joke out of it. Don't get me wrong as a joke I can take anything but my last day with you all, words were said for instance as I started making myself breakfast and snacks for the walk I got this condescending attitude while being asked "what are you doing"
  
   I replied with "making myself breakfast." 
  
   In reply I get "myself, me, me, me. It is always me." I had nothing to say to that and to be honest my mind couldn't understand it. The next thing I know I am being ignored by the same person, or put into uncomfortable situations. The sad thing is that this isn't the only thing that erked me. comments made after putting a large pile of potatoes on the fire for the group hit me for some reason and the fact that people sarcastically saying things like "you have to have the coffee with sugar because we say so or why don't you eat sugar (after about 10 million times explaining myself). It became hurtful, to top it off this isn't the only thing about myself. I am a person with many attributes and many joys in life. No one spoke with me about disney, movies, politics, sports, the views of the trip family, no one  wanted to share 

   To be honest this wasn't a big deal until I returned back to Ramat Hasharon. I don't know why but as I returned back and as I thought about the group I felt as though it would be interesting to see what would happen if I didn't come back and then I thought of this morning when I was given this attitude. I don't know if it was a sarcastic attitude or literally a condescending attitude. I don't know why this was thought in the first place and why it isn't the first and only person to mention that I tend to be a lone wolf on the walk. Don't get me wrong I am a proud lone wolf in life. Ok I really like to see myself like Balto. The lone half wolf half dog that is just trying to be a part of both worlds and to be there for everyone. I have been asked by many what is going on and when I am coming back which feels nice don't get me wrong and it makes it harder not to come back. The thing is that I don't want to come back and feel the way I did, I don't want to come back and wake up at sun light like we should and being brought down by doing so, I don't want to go back and want to walk rather than sit for hours and be brought down for it and the fact is that I really don't care about any of that but I do care that words allthough they don't physically hurt they sure as hell hurt me pretty badly and considering I have been laughed with about my oddness, I have been tortuched (jokingly) by others, and recently been curious as to whether or not a few comments have come from a more uncomfortable place it is really not in my best interest and to top it off I wasn't the only one being told hurtful things at times and that I think is what I truly saw as a I played back this past week. 

A person's physical sensitivities reflects their emotional sensitivities as well. I can try to hide that, I can try to be strong but the truth is I am strong in many ways, I am loved by many, I am happy most of the time but when it comes down to it a single sentence and even a single world can change how I feel in a heart beat and it can change my views completely about anything. Just give me time to really reflect on it and maybe my mind will be changed again. I would love for it to be changed because I would love to enjoy more experiences like hiking up a tough hill to get to the town Mitzpe Ramon, watching a goat give birth to two baby goats and watching them try to stand up, and seeing the view of the wall between Egypt and Israel being built and that beautiful view from the hotel in Neve Shalom where I am almost certain the receptionist thought I was some crazy, dirt broke, dirty tourist. 

Till Next Time
Nicoly!