The Middle East never ceases to amaze.
My journey began early on Wednesday morning when I took off from my parents’ farm in Western, MA. It was certainly quite nice not only having company on the drive, but also not having to eat a huge parking fee in Boston. While I did want to take my little bro along, he’s still a couple years off from his first trip with me to the Middle East.
On the drive out I had a great time catching up with my parents. It really is wonderful to live back in the Pioneer Valley close to home! My flight was at 1pm, but I was heading into the city early to have breakfast with one of my college friends I hadn’t seen in 10+ years! Vanessa and I had a great time catching up over breakfast, and marveling over how much had and hadn’t changed in 10 years.
After breakfast I was dropped off at Logan to begin what would become my smoothest ever ride to Tel Aviv. Everything about my Air Canada journey went as smoothly as it possibly could. No lines anywhere, super easy boarding, and as always, I slept for 90% of my time on each plane. Not only that, my checked bag (Ultimate Peace gear) turned up right as I walked up to the baggage carousel. Nice.
Immediately outside the airport terminal I caught a train bound for Tel Aviv, got off at the Tel Aviv University stop, and found Dan waiting for me right outside with his car. At this point the full awesomeness of the weather hit me as I took off my sweatshirt, then my long sleeve shirt, and enjoy life in my t-shirt. Wonderful.
Dan, his friend Amit, and I bounced around Tel Aviv picking up some supplies for the clinic which was happening the next day. We also stopped for lunch, which in fitting fashion was some very yummy humus and falafel. Before heading to Dan’s place, we stopped off at the IFDA office where I got to see Dan’s two adorable dogs, Pi and Tao.
Later that evening Dan and I headed to his place where we had a small dinner, and then went to practice with Element, one of the Israeli club teams going to club worlds. I had a great time practicing with the team, was only making a moderate fool of myself on the field… and then I went deep, dove high and twisting to the left, stuck the catch but twisted far enough around that all of my weight came down on my right shoulder. That took me out of the practice, and I still have a solid amount of soreness two days later, but my shoulder has full mobility and the pain is ebbing away.
Back at Dan’s place we were greeted by Ben Spears, an American who has been out here for two months working with lots of Ultimate Peace communities. All three of us had a great time talking Ultimate until late, and then I eventually crashed, almost kinda at the right time to get into the swing of things in this time zone.
The next morning (Friday), we woke up at a sane hour, packed up out gear, and headed into Tel Aviv for the Israeli Flying Disc Association coaching clinic. In all about 35 people were in attendance, including, including about 15 Ultimate Peace people!
The clinic took place in a very nice lecture hall, and my section on Spirit of the Game lasted an hour. I was really happy with how the clinic went. It was really dynamic, lots was covered, and there was a bunch of active contributions from the attendees.
After the clinic a bunch of us went to dinner at a high-end 24/7 breakfast place. I treated myself to a Croque Madame, a beer, and an iced coffee. Life was good. We had a lively discussion over dinner spanning current events, Ultimate, and life.
Back at Dan’s place, Abe and Teem joined in on the slumber party and we had a grand night filled with discussion and a viewing of Zombieland. The next morning Tim got picked up early by Ben, and Abe and I drove up to Netanya to the 1st year CIT clinic which was taking place at an American International School.
The group was made up of all Up campers, and they were led by Karym, Abe, and two CITs — Ali and Raz! I spent the day at the edge of the discussions, watching the work get done, mainly in Arabic and Hebrew. As I explained to the kids at the end, even though I didn’t understand too many of the words, I could absolutely understand the bigger picture of what they were working on.
We capped off the clinic with some Ultimate out on a very nice field, and then the kids caught their bus back home. Abe and I dropped off Raz and Noam along the way, and then made it back to Dan’s where soon after Abe was picked up so that he could make it back north to his place.
I’m now at Dan’s place in Herzliya, planning out the details for my next few days up north. I’ll be visiting at least 2 schools in Tamra (Asmaa’s and Ali’s) and then heading over to Buena Nujidat (sp?). While up there I’m going to spend full days visiting classes, and attending practices in both villages. On Wednesday the plan is to come back south to spend a day in a school in Ra’anana. After that I’ll be connecting with the Israeli Origami Center, spending some time in Jerusalem, and then I’ll head into the West Bank for a week to continue visiting schools, coaching Ultimate, and seeing as much of the region as I can.
I’m so happy to be here.