Hiking: The Mount Arbel

Work keeps getting in the way of me documenting my experiences from my recent trip to Israel. Before my memory starts morphing into something hazy, I should make it a point to write about the beautiful sights of Israel.

On my second day, my best friend Sivan and her bf took me on what they kept saying would be a “hike”. Having hiked around West Yorkshire before, I assumed it was going to be a lovely walk around some sort of rocky terrains but boy was I wrong!

After a long journey we reached Tiberias. From the sights of it, Mount Arbel looked barren and hot like what I have assumed the death valley must be (Later I will write about Masada and the hellish firey heat that I had no idea could exist). The first couple minutes of the walk, everything seemed peaches but I had finished my bottle of drink in the first 5 minutes and I was already starving which would end up feeding my anger further after about an hour. Yes, I was angry, the moment I had to climb up and down the rocks, I could feel my irritations rise. I am not a mountaineering girl. I once tried my hand at camping at a music festival and underwent major depression. Of-course I came out stronger and more carefree regarding my relationship with bugs but it had been ages since I pushed myself through anything moderately tough. To begin with, I was born a wuss and to top that, my parents over protected me and I turned into someone who’s scared of heights, bugs, rain, wind, sun…you name it and I’ll find a way to explain you how someone could die on/from/with/because of it.

Not even the stunning sights of the Sea of Galilee could rid me of my frustrations. Sivan’s bf was a gentleman and offered to carry my stupid sling bag in his backpack. I think seeing me struggle probably made him worry about the little Indian’s blood on their hands! I was one slip away from plunging into a theatrical death and all because of those stupid white converse! Of all the things that could irritate me, I was mad that my converse were getting filthy as we continued to climb down.

My butt saved the day when my brain was too confused trying to make sense of the signals from my imbalanced middle ears. I might have vertigo or just a bad sense of balance or am just too stupid and always talk myself into stumbling. The butt though helped me find my balance as I crawled down the rocks with the sole support of my derriere. The heat had gotten to my brain, I felt sweaty, dirty and so hungry. At about 2 hours into the hike I threw the biggest tantrum. I had to eat and I had to vent. Poor Sivan and her bf. Now when I think about it, I feel that they deserve some reward for not throwing me into the valley. Such patient and kind souls! I was so frustrated and fearful that when we passed these caves in the mountains I was convinced there were wolves! Turns out it was just a cow! Yes…a cow and I’m a coward.

The creepiest moment also came in the form of some Arabic speech being yelled into a megaphone at the village down below. It must have been a couple 1000 feet beneath us in the valley but the word Jihad could be heard loud and clear. As if that wasn’t scary enough, I heard Israeli planes flying in the sky above us. Yet, neither of these two Israelis I know were bothered. To them it seemed…NORMAL and may be it really is. I mean whats the worst that could have happened? A bomb raid? Gun attacks from below? Me slipping into the valley and being taken hostage? I was born a story spinner.

After a very long hike, we reached my “Reality TV” moment as I met with my road block. There was an uphill climb or another few hours through the valley or worst case scenario-a call to the rescue planes to come and air-lift me because I refused to climb this rock wall that had literally no support. I kept screaming- “What about health and safety?” in a very British tone because after having lived in the UK for over 7 years, I am an honorary Brit. It must have been 15 minutes, after which I agreed to give this climb a shot but in my usual dramatic tones, I told Sivan that she should call my mom and let her know what happened, when I do fall and die because I do not trust my bloody converse!! What a shame that we missed the presence of some sound engineers who could give my reality tv moment the perfect soundtrack. Will she?…She won’t…She might…Yes she did it! Sivan led the way for me to follow as her bf climbed behind me to make sure I didn’t fall. With a poopy face I climbed up…uppp…and upppp! What a thrill…what a death…death of my fear of heights.

I want to apologize to Sivan and her bf for being such a prick. At one point I told Sivan that I hated her for pushing me to the limits of my anxiety and fears. I promised her that when she comes to visit me I’ll have her speak in front of a crowd since public speaking is one of her fears. Ah! The fact that they survived me and we laughed about it, shows that Sivan is truly a kindred spirit. Any other person would have slapped me silly for being a spoilt brat but she patiently tolerated my tantrums.

Tantrum girl conquered her fears and then we went on to eat at a very expensive McDonalds next to an army training base cafe. Tantrum girl ordered the wrong burger and didn’t even complain. Tantrum girl quietly went and paid for another burger. That day will forever be etched in the memory of this tantrum girl as the day I made it out alive…only to put Everest on my list of adventurous things to do!

NOTE: Sea of Galilee is actually the largest fresh water lake in Israel fed with water from the Jordan river. You can drive to Mount Arbel (looked like its in the middle of nowhere) or jump on one of the tourist buses. I saw a lot of American tourists and they even took the longer-easier hiking route.




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