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Kibbutz Couchsurfing and hitchhiking: My solo Middle Eastern road trip (pt 3)

May 30, 2012

Israel and Palestine

Kibbutz couchsurfing Sea of Galilee Tiberias

And this is where this trip becomes a slight blur. Lol! I had no camera at this point (as of, no roll left, no new one bought–nothing!), save a day or two during one of my two kibbutz Couchsurfing stays. Most of those photos, however, are at home in Puerto Rico and will have to be scanned later. For now, I tried to find Flickr shots that best depict my memories of these experiences–hope you enjoy them anyway!

This week is the anniversary of this epic trip of mine, actually. I can’t wait to go on a similar adventure soon.

Want to start from the beginning?

Part 1: Cairo to Jerusalem
Part 2: Solo female Northern Israel: Jerusalem to Haifa and Nazareth

Jerusalem camel Israel

Camel in Jerusalem, Israel (first leg of my solo female Middle East road trip)

Kibbutz Couchsurfing in Dafna or Ashdot Ya’akov Ihud? That is the question

According to my Couchsurfing references and records, after Couchsurfing in Haifa and having fun road tripping Northern Israel, I headed north. It was either Kibbutz Dafna or Ashdot Ya’akov Ihud. While it is not 100% certain, circumstantial evidence points to kibbutz Couchsurfing in Ein Hathelet first.

Around Netanya, I was kibbutz couchsurfing at Ashdot Ya’akov Ihud. In order to get there from Haifa, I had to take a public bus from Tiberias…then hitch a 20-minute ride from Tiberias to the kibbutz. It was an absolutely thrilling experience. In fact, so many people use the bus stops to hitchhike now, that scheduled buses are a rarity in that area. Yes, the government has actually stopped servicing those areas! And so a decision had to be made: Wait and wait for a bus for possibly hours or follow the advice of a local and hitchhike. I chose the latter!

Kibbutz couchsurfing Sea of Galilee Tiberias

Tiberias, Israel and the Sea of Galilee

Photo: Steve Conger

Solo female hitchhiking in Northern Israel?!

In a matter of less then 5 minutes, a sweet Argentinian girl picked me up. Yeah, what are the chances of hitching a ride from another Latina in the middle of a deserted North Israeli dirt road? Happens aaall the time! [/sarcasm] ;) I was even more thrilled then, speaking in Spanish, wondering how the heck two Latinas where amidst a dirt road in Northern Israel. The Argentinian told me her parents migrated to the Middle East a few years back, so she had spent a good amount of her teenage years in Israel, learning Hebrew and now volunteering. I told her about my crazy solo female Middle East road trip and she couldn’t believe my guts — but without reassuring me that it is very safe to hitchhike in that area of Northern Israel, that she herself does it all the time when she doesn’t feel life driving. Phew!

Kibbutz Couchsurfing, hitchhiking North Israel

Look ma, I’m hitchhiking! (Note: Hat was provided by my host…from his trip to Asia =P)

After being dropped off by the kibbutz entrance, my CS host Gilad greeted me with great warmth. He showed me the grounds and told me how the true kibbutz meaning is somewhat lost nowadays, but that prices are somewhat subsidized to those living there and the sense of community has remained intact. Kibbutz Couchsurfing felt like staying with a big family: Many of his neighbors kept pouring in and out of his humble abode after finding out that a traveling Latina was staying at his place.

While the conversations and memories were many, I’ll list just a few of my favorites for space’s sake:
(photos provided by Flickr, as the many Gilad took I lost on a recent computer crash! *whimpers*)

1. Cycling to the Sea of Galilee, wandering by date palm forests, looking unto the Jordanian border

Kibbutz couchsurfing location map

Rough location where I went kibbutz couchsurfing, cycling, and hitchhiking around the Sea of Galilee

Ashdot Yakov Kibbutz couchsurfing date palms

Date palm forests: one of my favorite sights during our hikes and cycling trip around the Sea of Galilee!

Photo: Yoav Lerman

Kibbutz couchsurfing, Lake Kinneret Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee, also known as Kinneret: Swimming among so much history is an experience that’s still hard for me to put into words

Photo: Bryan_T

Utterly amazing. My host Gilad and I walked by dozens of date palms, took many photos I unfortunately lost, and even peeked at the Jordanian border. Afterward, we cycled dozens of kilometers from Couchsurfing kibbutz Asdot Yaakov Ikud to the Sea of Galilee. We settled by a deserted beach there, which we had all for ourselves. Imagine that: No tourists, just you, a local, and literally a sea of history around you. Just wow. To this day, I still find it hard to put this experience in words…

2. Meeting an interracial Israeli-Nepali couple, learning about Israeli gap years in India & Nepal

Nepali curry, kibbutz couchsurfing

What Nepali curry looks like!

Photo: doll damned

Wow, what a lovely people. They even taught me how to prepare Nepali curry (easier than I thought!). The most interesting conversation we had, however, involved talking about our faiths, how India has a tourist price/Israeli price/then local price! Right after getting out of required army duty (which one must enter right after high school), Israelis take a gap year and many flock to India. So has been the trend that “Israeli price” in India is just a notch higher than the price a local would pay, and much cheaper than the ones offered to regular tourists! Some of them also visit Nepal, which was our friend’s case, and find love :)

3. And theeeeen…I trespassed into a plantation and go terribly lost on my way to Mt of Beatitudes

Yikes! But you’ll have to stay tuned and wait for my next post to read all about it! ;) I also saw:

Guess what? (Photo: James Emery, Flickr)

Next adventure (part 4): Hitchhiking Israel, Trespassing and Mount of Beatitudes

Have you ever gone on a solo trip Couchsurfing? Share your experiences below!

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14 Responses to “Kibbutz Couchsurfing and hitchhiking: My solo Middle Eastern road trip (pt 3)”

  1. Hannah Says:

    As always, love your articles about Couchsurfing! A lot of people were shocked to hear that I Couchsurfed alone through the Middle East (“Isn’t that dangerous??”). It seems to me that Middle Eastern people are some of the most hospitable people in the world. Thanks for this post :)

    Reply

    • Maria Laborde Says:

      Happy to hear you like them! Couchsurfing is amazing and when used properly, leads to amazing experiences. Most ppl that complain about it have never used it or asked for a couch from someone without carefully analyzing whether they would be a good fit or not.

      As far as Middle East travel goes, well that’s just a huge misconception in most of the Western world due to media and sensationalism. Like anywhere, you just gotta know which places to avoid (like you wouldn’t go to certain ghettos in the US itself). I only hope my articles, experiences and travel blogs will help people see the real side of “marginalized” areas and cultures.

      Thanks Hannah :)

      Reply

  2. InsideJourneys Says:

    You had quite an adventure, Maria, and now have memories that will last forever!
    Love your food shots – you even got the steam.

    Reply

  3. Lisa Says:

    You have an amazing sense of adventure! Wow!

    Reply

  4. Jade Says:

    Wow- can I just say you are super brave! I haven’t done any traveling in the Middle East so I’m sure it’s calmer than it seems on the news- but still- it’s brave to be doing it on your own.

    Reply

  5. Nancie Says:

    What an adventure! I think brave and a little crazy are words that might sum up this trip…:) Looks like you had a fabulous time. Love the camel shot.

    Reply

  6. Emme Rogers @ Roamancing Says:

    You’ve got guts girl. This is an adventure that not many can claim to have had.

    Reply

    • Maria Laborde Says:

      just have to ask the locals and do as they do. Once you stay within those boundaries, you should be fine ;)

      Reply

  7. Sabina Says:

    The second time I traveled to Israel I stayed at Ashdot Ya’akov Ihud! I loved that place. The Jordan Valley is absolutely my favorite part of Israel, and the kibbutz was so peaceful, even had peacocks wandering around. I had a car so didn’t go on a hitchhiking adventure, but I’ve hitchhiked in other parts of Israel. I’m glad you had such a good time there :)

    Reply

    • Maria Laborde Says:

      Omg, THE PEACOCKS! Don’t get me started, I actually took DOZENS of pics at Ashdot Ya’akov Ihud and…my computer died. WOrse yet, I had them backed-up in the thumb drive/mp3 player I accidentally gave as a gift…to an ex-boyfriend. AHH!!!!!!! *goes cries in a corner*

      Oh well, memories are forever *sniffs*

      Reply

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