Saturday, 15 May 2010

Only two masaot to go now!!!

Once again I am back on my kibbutz for the weekend, after an unusual two week period in the army. I was hardly on base; instead stayed and slept in the shetach for the majority of the time. However, it was a fun couple of weeks, with some interesting and memorable moments.

Two weeks ago I was sent to course 'Banayim', where I learnt how to build certain looking points in the 'shetach' (open area) and also learnt camoflauge at a more advanced level. Some of the stuff I learnt was secretive and we had to have a security clearance before we started the course!

Me and a good friend in a 'milo'im' (reservist) truck.

I returned to my 'plooga' (company) from the course just in time for my latest masa, 35+5km, which lasted for a full seven hours! I struggled a lot during parts of the masa as the pace was ridiculously fast and it stayed like that for the whole masa. I finished strongly though and even managed to do my part of being under the stretchers, while having the water canteen on my back! It was one of the toughest physical challenges to date in the army and is the third last masa, with only the 'preparational beret march' and 'beret march' to go. We closed for the weekend on base and most of us just slept the whole time; as part of the recovery from the torturous masa. Last week, I was involved in a gigantic, nationwide 'milo'im' (reservist) excersize, with my plooga being used as the enemy for the reserve IDF soldiers. Basically, it meant that all week, the rest of my friends and I were lazing around and waiting for the call to say if there were any soldiers on the way. When that call came, we would hide in a good position, surprise the soldiers and 'shoot at them'. It was good fun and an easy week.

'mahlaka' (platoon) in the shetach. We are all holding Hizbollah flags; as part of the role as the 'enemy'

Although being a lone soldier is a hard life, I am so lucky to have a supporting network of friends and host families around me. My garin; all of whom are lone soldiers having made aliyah, are currently serving in the army in a variety of different places and often come back to Ortal on their free weekends, are my main base of support. From my garin I have made some strong friendships and that partly causes me to keep returning to Ortal each week for the weekend. On top of that, there is the organiser of the garin and the guy who generally looks after all our needs and problems. He is a top guy, one of the best, and is always there for me. Then there is my wonderful host family, the Nirons, who are always here to do my washing or feed me or send me packages in the army. I have also got lots of different contacts around the country; family friends and distant relatives, all of whom consistently invite me round for Shabbat. Recently, I also have my friends from the army, who I am getting closer and closer to as the weeks go on.

My company on a trip; with some Israeli school kids. I'm in the middle, you can make out my bald head!!!

Something that has annoyed me this week is the feeling that I am missing out on some moments where I should be with my family. Missing out on these moments, which are relevant just to me, is one of the setbacks about being in the army and shows how clueless you are to what's going on in the rest of the world, like the time when I came back from the army and my mum asked me about the Haiti thing, and I answered "what Haiti thing?". This week, the end of the football season and, specifically, Spurs' success of getting into the Champions League, is normally something which I was always excited for. However, this year, I missed out on all the excitement and anticipation; while missing out on Spurs' (well-deserved) final position, something we loyal fans have been waiting for, for a long time, was definitely a moment I would have like to have shared with my papa, whom I had a season ticket with for 12 years. Additionally, the final season finale to the television series Lost is something that I won't be able to truly share with my mum; and after we religiously followed and watched the show together for the last 6 years, makes me frustrated not to be back in London. However looking at the bigger picture, I can see that these are some of the sacrificies of being in the army, that they are not life-or-death matters (although in my opinion they are) and that I am still able to share aspect of the experience, albeit through the phone or Skype.

This week in the army we are getting let out for Shavuot (deservadly, since my company closed Hannukah, Purim and most of Pesach). I will be spending the festival at one of my friends from the army, which is a big deal for me as it's the first time I'm going to stay at one of my new Israeli friends. We go back to the army on Thursday to the Jumping base, in order to initiate 'course tznicha' (jump course) by having medical checks and signing forms. So that's it, after all the waiting, next week I'm signing on to paratrooping course. I leave next weekend as well, so I'll be able to explain all about that, so excited...

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