HITCHHIKING. DIRECTION LEBANON
Second part of my adventure Backpacking from North to South across Israel!
Agnes is leaving in a few days and we requested to have the same days off so we can visit the north together. The plan is going to Metula (the last Israeli town before the Lebanon border), hike the Tel Dan Nature Reserve and head to Odem where we’ll be spending the night. All of that hitchhiking two young women alone. Hitchhiking though is a very common transportation method around the Golan Heights and it’s faster than buses.
We’re on the outskirts of tibeiras pointing with the index finger to the road (don’t do the “thumb up” thing in arabic countries if you appreciate your life) with our best smile and attitude. The first car stops after 5 minutes of waiting; a woman who speaks enough english to tell us that she’s going to Kiryat Shemona, a town only 9 km away from Metula. The journey to Kiryat was quick and silent and after another 5 minutes there, a second car stops. It’s the tinniest car I’ve ever seen, full of garbage and driven by a very tall and slim man. He’s going to Metula and we decide to give it a chance. He apologizes for the mess in the car saying “you know, kids” while pointing at a childern’s seat that can be barely seen under all this collection of empty bottles, cups, paper and other unrecognizable stuff. His English is really good and explains to us how beautiful Metula and the surrounding area is. “we hear bombs and see military aircrafts every now and then but you get used to it I guess. Everyone lives their life at the end of the day.” he says when we ask about the situation with Syria and Lebanon. There are UN soldiers everywhere so we’re going straight to Tel Dan, a couple of hours walking from where we are.
Tel Dan was truly beautiful and we manage to stop a car at the exit of the Reserve that drives us to Masada, just 6 km away from Odem. We walk from Masada to our destination through the Odem Forest Reserve. Odem has a population of 130 inhabitants build near an abandoned Syrian military base with a hippie and chill vibe. We drop our backpacks at the hostel and start hiking again surrounded by herds of cows to catch the sunset on top of the hill where the military base was situated. From the top of the hill your sight reaches as far as Syria and the Mount Hermon, a mountain with a ski resort shared by Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
After a good night sleep, we manage to get our first ride to Masada at first light. We’ve been waiting in Masada for almost 30 minutes so we make the decision to start walking and hope that some car will stop at some point. The sun is blisteringly hot when we make it to a big town with people dressed in a weird way. Somehow, we managed to follow the wrong direction and now we’re in Majdal Shams, a Druze community and the closest town to Syria. We wander around looking for young people to ask for directions but we see only very old people dressed with black clothes and white headscarf. Desperate, we stopped a not so old looking man and somehow managed to ask him for directions using the best language: pointing at Kiryat Shemona on a tiny map we had and trying to pronounce the name with our best Arabic accent. The man was very nice and tried to help us the best he could, talking non-stop in Arabic while showing us the way out of the town. We’re now heading in the right direction (hopefully) but the number of cars driving on that road is frighteningly sparse and it’s almost midday. We try to maintain a positive attitude and enjoy the unique landscapes of the Golan Heights.
Finally, a car stopped and took us to Kiryat where we’re now waiting for a bus because we had enough walking and uncertainty for one day. This short trip taught me some very important lessons: maintain a positive mind set and everything will always work out for the best; we should build our society based on trust and love because these feelings are what make us equal human beings; you should never ever make assumptions based on media or another people’s opinion. Explore, travel, be curious and construct your own opinions and beliefs.