This past Thursday, the day after the short holiday of Shavuot, a good chunk of our battalion, 6910 “Northern Knights”, was treated to a day of sports and activities. The main feature of the day was a “battalion race” where all five companies in the battalion got different coloured t-shirts and participated in a big race. The destination was the Ramat HaNadiv park just outside of Zichron Ya’akov. The morning started off quite cool and refreshing, a gentle breeze in the air.
Before the run, when all the battalion was gathered around, the base commander (a lieutenant colonel) and the commander of all three truck driving bases (a colonel) gave little speeches, two army photographers snapping away on the sidelines. Before long, my green-shirted company (active-service truck drivers) was called up and we gathered at the starting line:
The signal was given and off we went, running the marathon. Here are some photos of other people running, the black-shirted “Command” company here:
Before too long, a friend and I stopped at some ruins we were passing at the side of the trail. We decided to ditch the race and explore the antiquities. It was a wise decision, nothing like a good look at the past. This particular building, known as the Mansur El-Aqab ruins, was basically a Byzantine-era farmhouse belonging to Jews with some other bits and pieces from the Crusader times. It’s a pretty extravagant farmhouse, I’d say.
We first headed to what we saw was an observation area, the Mediterranean Sea and the coastal plains clearly visible from far away. The view was incredible. My two favourite parts were the train passing by far below (it made me want to film a western movie) and watching a hovering kestrel hunt (raptors are amazing to watch, especially when they are flying so close by).
Here is a panoramic photo of some of the view, those dark patches are cloud shadows:
And here am I, enjoying the incredibly serene view:
After a good, long break we hit the trail again, heading back to the finish line (which was the start line as well, the route being a looped one). On the way I snapped a photo of this little clearing area. The delicate lace flowers of the Queen Anne’s lace combined with the bold pines, clouds and blue sky made for a very interesting look.
We made it back to where the rest of the battalion was lounging, having basically missed the rest of the race. The soldiers were waiting for the BBQ to finish up, and in the meantime little cereal bars were available, and then when the wait got longer, out came boxes of popsicles. But we waited patiently, a dozen or so soldiers putting on tefillin while they waited – which was nice to see. Eventually the food was ready and an extensive buffet was opened up. We helped ourselves and upon completion of lunch, engaged in some activities with park staff. After the activities we were hustled into the gardens of the park, where we spent the bulk of our time last army trip to this particular park:
As we walked the sun seemed to get more and more fierce, and as I sit here now typing, a nasty sunburn adorns the back of my neck. We were led to a grassy area where a darbouka drumming session was being held, presumably for us yet I saw civilians chiming in as well so it could have been the park’s idea. I seized up a fancy darbouka and made semi-rhythmic noises to accompany the wall of darbouka thumps that filled the air. Next we kind of milled about and then escaped to sit in the shade in peace. Some time later we headed onto the buses from which we came and were driven to a gym where a little battalion ceremony was held. The most interesting part of the ceremony was two Israeli Arab soldiers from my company who went up to the mics to deliver a custom Hebrew rap about our base, and our company in particular. The interesting part was when my company commander, a major, hopped on the “stage” and joined in on the rap… that was interesting to see.
That’s all for now, folks. Until the next adventure, whenever it may be!