It was common knowledge that we were going to be given a free weekend before Sunday, but would have to spend the night at the Bakkum. While everyone else from my programme and the rest of the tzanchanim draft, 600 in total, went to some orientation and form-filling, I was told to stay behind. Due to a slight problem with my only child form, I needed to see a welfare officer on the following day, in order to be signed off for kravi. So, for the evening, night and following morning, I was split up from everyone and found myself in a group for people with some sort of problem, many of whom had nowhere to go in the army. On thursday, the following day, all of tzanchanim went home for the weekend at 8am, however, I waited from 9am until 6pm for the signature of the commander of the Bakkum. Don't even ask. It was a very hard day for me (and I haven't even started basic training!), mainly because I was alone, totally clueless regarding the situation, had missed out on stuff that they had told the other tzanchanim and, frustratingly, found it extremely difficult being in a completely hebrew environment without any help whatsoever. Anyway, I managed to get things sorted and returned here to Ortal for the night. Yesterday, was tough but I feel like I have really experienced the bureaucratic nightmare that is the army and I managed to argue in hebrew the whole day with officers and commanders.
Now I am just repacking my two bags: the giant tik aleph that we received and my own bag. In the tik aleph we got everything from a bomber jacket to a brand new Gillette fusion razor, from elastic bands for the bottom of your trousers to baby blue army y-fronts! It is said that you should pack for two weeks as there is the likely possibility that you are closed for two weeks before having the next weekend off. So now I will transfer two weeks worth of clothes into my tik aleph; green t-shirts, white t-shirts, underwear, special socks, toiletries and more. By the way, this is a video that our leader made of some soldiers' arrivals, definitely worth watching the start! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZgUcGrtJCg
To end, I want to say how I have such conflicting emotions at the moment. On one hand, from Sunday, it all starts; the discipline, the exhaustion and the general 'shtuyot' (army nonsense). The first week is always the hardest (apart from maybe 'war week' and the weeks in 'shetach' (field) but I don't have to worry about that right now) and I just want to get through this period. I know I am going to be missing home terribly at hard moments and the lack of space and sleep are normally the main causes of the inevitable shock. However, this is what I came here to do and if it was any other way, then it would not be the Israeli army. The hell of basic training is what makes it basic training and what makes scared boys into trained soldiers. I will always have my passion, determantion and knowledge of loved ones to try and bring me through in those really hard times. I also need to try and enjoy it because, in some aspects, the army (and basic training) can also be fun, especially for boys in combat units. I'm looking forward to writing the next blog as that means this week (and maybe next week) will be out of the way, but at the same time I am excited start this totally one-off, incredible and rewarding experience.