He's back at it!

People who know me know that I belong on the Trail. I've thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (twice),the Pacific Crest Trail and the mighty Continental Divide Trail. I've hiked many of the long trails here in Michigan including being the first to hike both the Ironwood Trail and the Great Lake To Lake Trail. My next big adventure will be the Israel National Trail starting in February 2017.

The purpose of this blog is to keep anyone who is interested informed of my progress and to encourage those who are able to support me in this endeavor.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Passover in Tel Aviv

One disclaimer and one note of gratitude before I begin. The disclaimer is that I am not Jewish and I really had very little knowledge of the Passover holiday, what it represented and the customs associated with it. The gratitude goes to my hiking buddy, Nightmare, his friends and his family. The whole trip back to Tel Aviv was Nightmare's idea and it was SO worth it. 


 


Normally, I don't like getting off the trail (for anything, really). I've spent plenty of Easters, Thanksgivings and Christmas' alone on the trail and I am just fine with that. It's where I belong, anyway. So when Nightmare wanted to get off the trail in Mitzpe Ramon and hitchhike to Tel Aviv with no definite plans in mind, I was a little skeptical. This was, however, a chance to be exposed to a completely different culture and I just couldn't pass it up. 


Once in Tel Aviv, Nightmare asked his friend Davi Haberman to put us up for the night. Davi let us get a shower and do laundry before we met some friends of Nightmare's family for dinner. And what a dinner it was! These folks treated us to a truly fine dining experience at a beautiful restaurant in Tel Aviv. Their wonderful company as well as the meal itself will not be soon forgotten. We later returned to Davi's apartment and crashed for the night. 


The next day we hiked around Tel Aviv a bit and even went to a beautiful beach on the Mediterranean Sea.


 


 Early in the afternoon, I noticed that the crowds began to thin and the stores started closing as most people went home to be with their families for the Seder meal that kicks off Passover. 


Nightmare and I took a train and did a bit of a hike to get to Udim, Israel where Nightmare's friend's family lived. They have a BEAUTIFUL home complete with a long table prepared for the special celebration. 


The Seder itself was a little overwhelming. There was lots of singing, reading prayers, drinking wine and food - OMG the food! Course after course of wonderful, exotic (to me) food. This family was not only incredibly generous, but they took the time to whisper to me in English about what was going on and what we were eating. Mostly, I'll remember lots of joy, family love and respect for their elders as constant themes during the whole evening. 



We were invited to stay that night with a wonderful couple who, although they had just met us, opened their home to us and treated us like kings. After a good night's sleep and a huge breakfast, they dropped us off at a big city park where we relaxed for a bit before making the hike to a strictly Orthodox neighborhood where Nightmare's Uncle and his family live. 


I was a little concerned because Nightmare's Uncle had absolutely no idea that we were coming. They won't take a phone call or text on this holy holiday so we had no choice but to knock on their door and invite ourselves in. 


They were so warm and welcoming that it blew my mind! Even as unannounced guests, we were treated to a huge lunch and great conversation. Being Orthodox Jews, they had some customs that were new to me but Nightmare gave me some pointers about how to proceed. It was a memorable occasion remarkable for a very close, loving family and their devout reverence for God. 


Later that afternoon, we met up with some friends we had met on the trail for some cold beer on a warm beach. Good times were had by all. 


We're now headed back to Mitzpe Ramon to pick up the trail where we left off. We only have about one week left in the desert but it's reported to be one of the most difficult and most exciting. I can barely wait to get hiking again!


Davi and Nightmare:

 


If you have any questions, comments or observations, please leave them below. Thank you!

12 comments:

Michael Long said...

Glad that Passover was part of your experience while you were hiking in Israel. Enjoyed reading your blog!

Suzanne Hollyer said...

You are so fortunate to have a friend out there who can share the culture with you as well as keep you company on the trail. Can't wait to hear more.

Roberta McCoy said...

I am so excited for your new experiences. Your writings keep your friends involved and enjoying this experience with you.

Christopher Hillier said...

Thank you, Michael, and thanks for leaving a comment!

Christopher Hillier said...

I am fortunate, indeed. Nightmare really hooked is up. I'm proud to hike with him.

Christopher Hillier said...

As I always say, you keep reading and I'll keep writing. Until I get back and I can share all my crazy stories about this hike!

Marlyss said...

Wonderful to read! You're doing a great job keeping everyone in the loop.

nancy major said...

Love reading your stories Chris! I think this particular hike may be one of the most memorable ones yet? I love hearing about the different cultures. Have you seen any camel spiders?

Jeff Weiner said...

Great stuff, bro! Keep giving me stories to live through.

Christopher Hillier said...

Thank you, Marlyss. I miss you and the Wolverine Lake Crew!

Christopher Hillier said...

Have not seen any Camel Spiders. Did see one giant scorpion. A British hiker I was with said that they call that species the 'Death Stalker Scorpion'. Yikes!

Christopher Hillier said...

Thanks, Jeff. I've got a couple good posts coming up but the next one will be all pics.