Every two years, my school, Augustine Christian Academy, hosts a trip to Israel for the junior and senior classes. Twenty-six students and teachers participated on this excursion to the exotic Middle East, home of the Land flowing with Milk and Honey.
We arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv around 7:30 in the morning after fourteen hours of flying across the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Our tour guide, Yoni, greeted us in the terminal as we disembarked and whisked us away to immediately begin the tour of the tiny nation of Israel. There can be no rest for the weary.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
In the twelve days we stayed in Israel, the “Frozen Chosen” toured everything this nation had to offer. Yoni called us the “Frozen Chosen,” because the tour bus in which we traversed all types of terrain was always frigid. If anyone saw a blanket or article of clothing lying around, he or she snatched it up. We toured all the way from the land of Dan in the fertile north to Be’er Sheva in the barren south. The tour trekked to King David’s ancient fortress of Arad, sloshed through Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem, and bobbed in the salty Dead Sea. We stood in the place where Abraham and Lot parted ways, Lot greedily taking the green, fruitful land of the East, leaving Abraham with the Negev, a barren, hot, desolate wasteland. But the Negev houses a most interesting people group, the Bedouin. While the “Chosen” stared off into the rugged beauty of the Negev Wilderness, the Bedouin poured forth from the rocks to sell these wealthy Americans some cheap wares. Some of us paid a dollar to sit upon a gentle camel.
We spent the last three days in Jerusalem, the capitol of Israel. Thankfully, the hotel where we stayed was called the King David Hotel. The beds and food surpassed anything and everything I had previously experienced. Jerusalem looks like a city of contrasts. The Old City Jerusalem and the New City Jerusalem sit right next to each other like old neighbors. The weather itself could not decide to be either warm or cool. Every few minutes, the clouds would open a little for the sun to beam down warm rays of happiness. Then we would be back to a brisk, refreshing breeze.
We shopped almost every night in the Old City. In the Old City, one simply doesn’t purchase gifts and boons for their sweetheart. No, in the Old City, one haggles. He argues with the shopkeeper until he relents and sells said boon for the preferred price. I spied a knife with my little eye, and proceeded to work my magic. The shopkeeper resisted my magic, but I persevered and was duly rewarded. After paying the good man twelve dollars, I put a cap on my expenditures, and meandered down the street, perusing the wares, and just getting a feel for a different culture. I later bought a shirt that pictured the Ten Commandments under the words, “Guns and Moses” silk-screened across the top.
The Land of Milk and Honey will transform everyone who visits in ways unimaginable. Walking among the ruins of ancient fortresses, breathing the dust of the Wilderness, and riding a camel like the Israelites of old serves only to make history a living, breathing entity that one can touch and know.
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