My Turn to Have Some Fun!

I have just completed my fifth, and best Sar El trip to date. I often looked at Sar El clips on youtube and it always seemed that someone else was having all the fun. Now it was my turn. 

I was with a group of 5 others from different parts of the world. Lorraine, a 78 year old South African who spends around 3 months a year in Israel. Most of it on Sar-El. She frequently does 3 consecutive tours, Lois, an 82 year old lady from the States, who has also done Sar-El a number of times. There was, Karl, Diane and Bethany, also from the States, who frequently travel together to do tours. Finally there was Mark from the States. 

On arrival at the airport, I waited for my name to be called and see where I was going. Finally I was sent to a base full of soldiers from all over the world.There were soldiers from Ethiopia, Nigeria, UK, Ukraine, France, and quite a few from New Jersey.

Each morning whilst the soldiers would gather for their flag raising, I would talk to many of them, and told them some jokes. Those who were unable to understand English gathered round to listen while their friends translated. What was my name, where was I from, why had I come to Israel, how many times had I come etc. What a place, to think that regardless of sex, colour, creed or religion, people from all over the world had decided to make Israel their home.

I suppose in a way I was jealous of these young soldiers, many of whom were starting a new life and military career. I know that the friends they made during their basic training will last them for life. Many of them were lone soldiers, and I am fortunate to know a volunteer at the lone soldier centre in Jerusalem.

Before I left UK, I had bought a few keyrings with the Welsh flag on and also a flag, which was signed by the group and is hanging in the dining room. I also took a map of the UK which had come with a daily paper so I could show people where I lived. There was a German aged around 22, David, who was hoping to join the paratroopers when he had finished his basic training. I gave him a pair of combat gloves I had taken with me. I decided that I would no longer wear them and would take them on my trip to give to someone who would  have some use for them.

 Often, while I was waiting for breakfast, some of the soldiers would come past and greet me with good morning Steve. Many of them used to wave and call my name when they saw me round the camp.

 We had a trip to Mount Bental, I have been there a few times, but still a nice place to visit. Unfortunately we never visited Valley of tears where Avigdor Kahalani won the famous victory against the Syrians in 1973.

A few days later, while talking to one of the soldiers in the base, they mentioned that they were going to visit mount Bental. I told them that hopefully he would visit the Valley of  tears and see where Kahalani fought. He looked at me and asked who he was. I replied that I would let him look up the name himself and ask the guide about him.

A few days later I saw him again and asked how his trip went. He told me that he asked the guide about Kahalani. The guide was a bit taken aback and explained the battle in a bit more detail. As a result he said he would actually be meeting Kahalani in a few days.

The group got together and did a surprise presentation one evening for the Madrichot who were in charge of us. Unfortunately one of the Madrichot was taken from us after a few days. I managed to visit her at her coffee shop in old Jaffa and give her a present and swore her to secrecy for a few days until we had given presents to the other Madricha.

Oh I forgot to mention that there was no aircon on the base, with temperatures reaching 39 degrees. The work we did was moving boxes, but whatever job I was given it paled into insignificance compared to meeting future soldiers of Israel, some of whom would go on to join the paratroopers, and other units such as Golani and Givati. The interaction with the soldiers more than compensated for any negative factors, if there were any.



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