Welcome to part 4 of my solo female Middle Eastern road trip! Today, whilst hitchhiking Israel, I finally get lost. In the end, I did find my way by hitchhiking once more, but still! Quite surprising it took me this long, given to how directionally-challenged I am. I know, I know — how would someone with no sense of direction whatsoever embark on such a solo journey, hitchhiking nonetheless, through the Middle East? I guess the only answer I can give you is that my thirst for adventure is insatiable.
Want to start reading about my hitchhiking Israel adventures from the beginning?
Photo: Steve Conger
Hitchhiking Israel solo: And then I got lost
After some cycling around the Sea of Galilee and bonding with my host and his neighbors whilst kibbutz Couchsurfing at Ashdot Ya’akov Ihud, it was time to head out and explored the area further. Gilad went to school as I explored Tiberias deeper. First stop: Mount of Beatitudes.
As usual, I had to hitchhike out of the kibbutz for several kilometers before I could take a bus. Buses didn’t make it to Mount of Beatitudes anyway…
This I did not know back then.
And so I pressed on, hitchhiking Israel once more, another wonderful experience. Then, I took the bus to the furthest stop possible, the closest to the site. “Ah, that’s not too bad of a hike!” I cheered as I marveled at the beautiful landscape and expansive Sea of Galilee views. It only took a few steps for me to get distracted. Then the road became a dirt road, the dirt road became a maze, and suddenly I found myself trespassing into a private plantation, with no way out and no other soul in sight.
At that point, the more I walked the further the Mount of Beatitudes seem to be, right up there with the road I came from, in the horizon. After an hour in the situation, under the scorching sun with no water available, I cried for the first time in Israel.
“What the heck were you thinking, María?! This is borderline desert! You idiot!”
As I was busy insulting myself, I missed two workers in the field… Until a third one noticed my big hair and came to my rescue. “Do you need any help, Ms.?” Said the polite, handsome dark man. “Yes, please. How do I get back to the main road?!” The man responded: “You shouldn’t be in this area by yourself! Did you lose your tour group?” To what I answered: “No, sir. I hitchhiked here from Ein Hathelet. The man was amazed and shocked: “Brave girl,” he responded in disbelief. “Hop on” he said as he turned on his tractor.
As he dropped me off the main road, he said “I recommend you to go back to the bus stop you came from. Mount of Beatitudes is further than you think, too long of a away to come back here even if you make it up there. It’s much better if you come here with a group. ” Then, he disappeared into his plantation and went back to work. Poor chap, he didn’t even have a clue about how stubborn I am.
Hitchhiking Israel solo: Take two
After deliberating for about 10 min. in the middle of the main road, I couldn’t decide what to do. I did not want to give up; yet, what the farmer said wasn’t very comforting either. But before I could change my mind, a car was finally in sight. My reaction was to automatically raise my hand, as my gut feeling gave me an instant green light: “This is it, Maria! It’s this one or no one!” And just guess who the driver happened to be?
A freakin’ registered tour guide. With Christian pilgrimages specialty. Such is my luck.
I told him my story and he couldn’t stop laughing. “The farmer is right, but look at what your stubbornness got you!” Touché. For the next dozens of kilometers, the tour guide told me all kinds of stories about the road we were on and the surrounding area. Then, once we finally made it to Mount of Beatitudes, he also gave me a short intro about the place. Before leaving though, Mr. tour guide inquired: “Oh and Maria, when will you be done?” “I beg your pardon, sir?” I responded, a bit suspicious at his question. “Oh, I’m running some errands a couple of kilometers from here, but have to come down this road again. I figured you could use a ride back to the closest bus stop to Tiberias? How about we meet here in about an hour or two?”
Oh Israel, you never cease to amaze me.
Mount of Beatitudes and Church of the Multiplication
Mount of Beatitudes is a hill between Capernaum and Ginosar where Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount is commemorated. The actual location in which this speech was delivered is unknown, yet this spot has been venerated for close to 1,600 years.
Churches on-site include a Byzantine one that was used between the 4th and 7th centuries and a Roman Catholic Franciscan Chapel that was built in 1938. Additionally, one may still see the remains of a cistern and monastery (Wikipedia).
To my surprise, the Church of the Multiplication was nearby. And guess what happened? Yet another tour guide gave me a ride from Mt. of Beatitudes to Tabgha and back, just in time to meet up with the first tour guide that picked me up after the plantation trespassing incident. Seems like the tourism board got a memo that I was hitchhiking Israel and needed some vol.
In case you don’t know: The Church of the Multiplication sits on the remains of two earlier churches, still housing restored 5th century mosaics. Here, one of Jesus Christ’s most popular miracles is commemorated: “The Multiplication.” According to the Bible, Jesus multiplied a handful of loaves of bread and fishes to feed his disciples and thousands of his followers one fine day about two millennia ago.
There, I spent about two hours soaking in the solemnity of the site. I prayed inside the chapel, marveled at the gorgeous views from the expansive balconies, and wondered what living there 2000 years ago would have been like. I breathed deeply and thanked my Lord for affording me the opportunity to see and experience such beautiful things.
I am blessed.
Would you go hitchhiking Israel solo? Tell me about a crazy travel adventure of yours