“We have ended up here in a beautiful area. Our journey goes along beaches and kibbutzim. The people here are very sweet, they welcome us everywhere. We have not experienced the images of Israel you see on television here.”
Where we celebrated Christmas in the Netherlands, the Israelis celebrated Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. “They celebrate that party just like we do,” says Gepken, who celebrated it together with an Israeli family. “The whole family sat together in the evening and sang songs. There were also delicious cookies. The centerpiece was a candlestick with eight arms and candles. Very special to be included in their celebration by a Jewish family.”
Gepken and De Vries first walked north from Tel Aviv and are currently in Nazareth. On the way they spend the night with Jewish and Arab Israelis. For example, they slept in a kibbutz. In Nazareth, the Ericas celebrated New Year’s Eve. “In a square near a giant Christmas tree. The Jews celebrate the turn of the year on a different date, but this is an area where many Arabs live. There were no oliebollen, but there were flares and all that in a beautiful old city.”
The hike is still going well in Southeast Drenthe, although De Haas is somewhat affected by the fall and Gepken was a bit flu-like. “We are now going towards the Sea of Galilee and then towards the Dead Sea. Finally we walk from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, in the footsteps of Jesus.” Gepken and De Haas expect to arrive at the end of this month.