My family in Israel is big, loud and intense. When they get together the boys play fight, the siblings bicker, everyone gets a bit drunk and I usually leave with my ears ringing. My in-laws are actively involved in our lives in a way that is completely alien from the independent reserved British family way I know. I am reminded regularly that I should know Hebrew already and ‘when you move to Israel’ is dropped in the conversation often. If there’s one thing Jewish families are good at, and infamous for, it is pressure and guilt!
Sure, my in-laws are full on, but, I wouldn’t change them for the world. They really are amazing. At a seconds notice, any one of them would drop what they were doing to help and nothing we ask of them is too much. They are loving, warm and supportive. Food is used as an expression of love and, like last nights celebrations, I am fed within an inch of my life too many times. My fondest memories of family gatherings though is the laughter. There’s always so much laughter.
With the birthday celebrations going on late, I didn’t manage to get to bed until 1am….crazy late considering my usual curfew is 8.30! Even so, I was up at 5am and unable to sleep any more. I made the most of the, usually, quiet house and did some writing. When Gil’s Auntie, Uncle and cousins woke, we had a pancake breakfast and headed to the beach for a short swim.
We all had a shakshuka lunch together. Shakshuka is a classic Israeli dish – a tomato mixture with cooked eggs that you eat with torn off bits of bread. I was still massively full from my 6 pancake breakfast but it was too tasty not to eat.
Then it was chore time. Finishing the laundry, refilling the water, packing the bag and checking out the maps for the next section. I always mark where there are water points and possible places to camp on the map to make it easier to plan when we are walking. I also sorted out our resupply of food, removing the packing and putting everything in plastic bags so it is easier to ration, as well as making it lighter.
I watched a bit of TV with Gils Young cousins and played some games. The late night caught up on me and at 8pm I headed to bed. I was starting to get that long term tiredness that sometimes creeps up on you when you are travelling. We are nearing the 4 week mark of our hike. On top of averaging 25km of walking a day in crazy heat, each night we sleep somewhere different, in a new place, a different bed. We constantly meet new people. It gets tiring, even if I am enjoying it lots.
Tomorrow we pass the half way mark! 510km down, 510km to go. We’ve gone through the green mountains of the north, along the coastline of the centre and are now heading to Arad city which marks the beginning of the desert stretch. It’s exciting but also a little daunting as the desert is the toughest section and takes a lot more planning. Not to mention isolated.
It’s also exciting though and, when I was daydreaming about the hike it was this part I was most looking forward to. I want to experience the desert, see the stars and know what it feels like to be in such a baron land miles from civilisation. Crossing a desert is also a serious adventure and I did, after all, sign up for an adventure.
I am walking 1000km the full length of Israel. Part of the reason I have taken on this challenge is to raise money for Africa’s Children in Education. Each time I receive a donation it is a HUGE morale boost…please donate!