Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hibba Part II: Jordanian Joy

One of the few things I've done in my life that I'm unequivocally proud of is my keeping of a diary for the past five years. Unfortunately, I can barely read it. Oh well, there are Maalos and Chisronus in everything, right? So I don't have to rely on my memory, but can instead turn to the written word, which is of course sacred. Yes, it was me who wrote it, but does that really mean anything? I think not.
Oh, and one thing before we get to Israel; Lipa's new CD really and truly rocks. I'm not saying this because he featured me on the liner notes (hint hint), but because I, as a fellow artist, appreciate the man's genius. No one ever said artists couldn't be pretentious, right?
So the first wake up in Israel was at 6:45, which was followed by morning prayers, which I lead, and breakfast, which consisted of three of those really good Israeli strawberry yogurts and three hard-boiled eggs. How's that for symmetry?
Next up was a bus trip to the Golan Heights and a hike there among a bunch of old Syrian bunkers and landmines, which really made the whole experience quite exciting. One of the great things about being anywhere in Israel while we were there was that there were always at least another couple Birthright groups along with us. From what we were told, there's going to be 750 groups in total this summer, so a little crowding was only to be expected.
After the hike it was time for possibly the funniest visit of the entire trip. We visited an olive oil store. All right, it was a whole big thingamajig, but the entire point of us going to the place was to get us to fork over our hard-won American moola. Don't worry, I resisted the temptation.
Since the locale was sorely lacking in a properly Kosher (for our august standards, that is) victuals establishment, we were forced to pursue lunch in the local Shupersol, which ended up being bread and chummus, not too shabby at all. We also got our delegation of 4 soldiers and 2 national service boys at this point. Birthright pairs each group with between six and eight Israeli contemporaries, which are usually co-ed, but for us of course they were all one gendered Hebrews. Two were from Nachal Chareidi, while another was a paramedic in some elite commando unit and the fourth did something, presumably, though for the life of me I can't remember what that something was.
Onto Mount Bental we then trooped, with its signpost to all the major capitals of the Middle East and excellent view of Israel's friendly neighbors. We also explored some Syrian bunkers, which give excellent testimony to the ill-advisedness of joining an army which is obviously so lacking in knowledge of basic human comfort.
The grand climax of the day was rafting the Jordan river. All the advertisements for Jordan river rafting portray it as the equal of New Zealand's legendary rapids, or at the very least Colorado's Royal Gorge, which I by the way nearly died in when I rafted it some years ago. But that's a story for a different time, though probably the same place.
The only rapid on the river was a rather staid and seemingly man-made slight drop near the end of the run. My main enjoyment was paddling upstream, which was ridiculously easy, and swimming plus Mikve, which had the many other rafters on the river laughing. No, of course I did not completely disrobe for the occasion; just try and imagine trying to get all the way under in seven feet of water with a lifejacket. It was pretty funny, because there were a bunch of preteen religious Israeli girls on the river as well, and they laughed their heads off at us the most. My, was that not an awkward bit of sentence. Still, the spirit takes hold of one, and it's better to just hang on tight and enjoy the ride. So yes, as I was saying, the Jordan river, while not exciting in any conventional sense of the word, was quite enjoyable.
That brings us to the night session, where we all met and gret (greeted sounds too plain) each other, with little soundbites of our lives. I said perhaps (why be modest? Strike that "perhaps" from the record Sir!) the funniest thing, explaining that it's best not to drink orange juice directly following the brushing of the teeth. I first learned this lesson in YOEC; at first I thought all the OJ procured by the dear Shluchim was somehow deficient, but gradually it dawned on me that in fact my own excellent hygiene was to blame.
And that, my friends, is the way the cows come home to roost.

17 comments:

Eliezer said...

What are liner notes? How were you featured on them?

The Real Shliach said...

Liner Notes are the notes in an album. I was not featured in the liner notes, though several prominent blogs were. The sentence was supposed to mean "because he featured me in the liner notes" (because he didn't). The hint is that I should be featured next time.

Nemo said...

As I recall the Jordan river "kayaking" experience - and granted it's been about 8 years - you shouldn't have been the only one going to the Mikveh there.

There were all these naked hippies camped out on the sides of the river when I was there.

(BTW, is it even a river in any conventional sense of the word?)

Nemo said...

Ok, so there's something I don't get here ...

Which group did you go with?

I knew there were two Chabad groups going this week, but how come I don't know anyone that went in your group? Why aren't pictures from your group populating Facebook?

Why, for that matter, aren't you on Facebook?

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. R.S.

Contrary to an earlier comment, I am gratified that you have avoided the temptations of popular culture and kept away from Facebook - it sets you apart as a man of discernment and insight.

L d T.

Nemo said...

No, it makes you antiquated and queer.

Facebook isn't popular culture - it's life!

The Real Shliach said...

"Queer" is a rather loaded word, my dear Nemo; be that as it may, I don't have Facebook because I don't have seven free hours a day to spend on it. Some guys get very offended when you tell them that, but what can I do? I know me...
I was on the Hibba group. Don't blame me for their laziness.

Nemo said...

Queer in the literal sense.

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. Real Shliach:

Re: Facebook. It always amazes me how serial killers, suicides, perverts of various kinds, and murderers have Facebook pages as evidenced by the Press' reporting of their Facebook thoughts and feelings after they are caught. So, contrary to Mr. Nemo's comment, it appears that it is the having of a Facebook page that makes one queer (in the literal sense of course).

Straight-talking as always,

Leo d T.

Eliezer said...

Dear Mister d. Toot,

Aha. So you're saying that because serial killers, suicides, and other perverts have facebook, it is logical to assume that having facebook caused them to become murderers, suicides, or perverted?

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. R.S.

I hope you don't mind me replying to Mr. Eliezer:

I see you have misunderstood me, Mr. Eliezer - what I'm saying is that serial killers etc. have a need to express themselves to humankind (perhaps this is part of their madness) and Facebook provides an ideal opportunity for this.

Just clarifying,

L d T.

Eliezer said...

Aha. So because nutjobs use Facebook to express themselves to humankind, therefore normal people shouldn't use it?

Nemo said...

Leo- You're messing with someone that spent way too much time studying how to see through your inverted and twisted form of logic.

Don't get me started on this, I've already had a long day.

The Real Shliach said...

Far be it for me to disagree with any of the honored commentators on this site, but from LdT's words, it appears that bloggers, and serial commenters, also have serious issues. Hmm?

The Real Shliach said...

Regardless, it would still take a lot to get me to sign up for Facebook.
In case anyone wants to try, the smallest bills I accept are Franklins.

Nemo said...

I was just in Franklin's hometown for the day.

Elisheva said...

Facebook: Its good you're not on there. It is the number one reason why I always end up studying for exams at 3 in the morning. But reading blogs and commenting is becoming a close second.

Ramat Golan: I swear up and down that I'm not a spiritual hippie. Yet, you can hear, feel and smell G-dliness there.