Our 24 hours of travel were as painless as a cleaning at the dentist. I snagged a window seat for the first long flight, the kosher airplane meals were surprisingly tasty, and they didn’t ask me a single question at customs. No one had their luggage lost, which I consider a major win for a group of 30!
Once we arrived in Tel Aviv, we got our Israeli cell phones, exchanged some dollars for shekels, and loaded up on our bus with our new staff.
Our Israeli tour guide for this trip, Irad, is a tough old bird who looks like Crocodile Dundee. He speaks at least four languages (that I’ve heard so far), served in the IDF for 20 years and has been teaching us Hebrew words and Israeli customs (hint: don’t use manners here).
The bus driver, Razor, looks like an aged drummer for a punk band. He sports greased, grey springy curls down to his shoulders and a pair of mirrored sunglasses. He is constantly smoking cigarettes and doesn’t speak much English, but he’s rad and hasn’t crashed yet.
Rafi is our security guard (and medic). A young buck of 25, he also served in the IDF and comes equipped with a 9 mm and Band-Aids. He is not very proficient in English, but we’ve becomes friends and communicate via hand gestures and the Google translate app.
The first night at our hotel (a decent three-star place in Tiberias overlooking the Sea of Galilee) included a buffet dinner of grilled veggies, tilapia, lamb sausages and rolls. We did another round of icebreakers on the roof, then all crashed hard.