חג שבועות שמח Happy Shavuot!
I had a very short week in the Army this week due to the Jewish Holiday of Shavout. (To read about Shavuot, click on the link above. Because it was a short week, I’m going to go into detail about my daily routine.
I have off every Friday and Saturday, so on Sunday I return to base. I live about two and half hours from my base near the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Its a really nice place on top of a mountain overlooking the Kinneret. On Sunday morning I wake up at about 5:30am-6:00am to get everything ready, put on my uniform, stash my computer, and meet up with Idan (My friend from CPLV/Adopted Kibbutz Brother). Idan drives me to the train station in Herzaliya which arrives about 7:15am. I have a guy in my Tzvet/Squad from Australia and we usually meet up to take the train together. The ride is about an hour and half to Acko, just north of Haifa. I then have to get the bus to Karmiel. I have to be in Karmiel at 11:15am, but its super hard to get a bus to there, so we all go really early. Its like every soldier in the North is trying to get on the same bus…its crazy trying to get on a bus. When I arrive in Karmiel, everyone in my course has to get into formation and once everyone has arrived we take an Army bus to the base. Once on the bus we have special rules; No talking on cell phones, no eating or drinking, only use the back door, have no space in between soldiers, keep the noise down, in case of an act of terror get below the windows, and if a fire get out as fast as you can.
The first thing we do is go straight to the Dining Room for Lunch. We have 10mins to eat, 2 minutes to clear the trays, and then a 30min break. After the break we go drop our stuff off at the rooms and change into our Class Bet Uniform (Base Uniform). This past sunday we got eight minutes to change uniforms. This is where the week started off bad for us. It was like 90 degrees with the strongest humidity I have ever experienced. (I’m from Colorado…No such thing as humidity.) We are told all the time, “Time is the most important thing.” Well it was so hot, we were really lazy, and no one watched the time. We run down stairs after about 14 minutes. NOT Good…. Well it was to hot to punish us (They can’t make us run or do anything physical if it is to hot.) My commander said, “Don’t worry we will make this up later. I am very disappointed.” We then preceded to a lecture with the whole Pulga (Company, about 120 guys) in a lecture hall with no breeze or air conditioner. The lecture was from Zvika Levy, “Aba of Lone Soldiers.” He helps Lone Soldiers, like myself, kibbutzim to live on during there service. This was the first speech we got about how great we were to join the Jewish Army and defend the State of Israel and the Jewish People. It was a million degrees, but I still got shivers from his words. It was a great speech, but it got a bit long and he started bragging a lot about himself. We finally got outside and it was so much cooler than inside. I then somehow got picked to clean the base for the rest of the day. I have heard that this is one of the best jobs you can get because you sweep, pick up cigarette butts and trash, and other random things for a few hours and then spend the rest of the time on long breaks. This would have been nice, but it was SO SO hot out. I had to sweep dirt and trash up with only a few short breaks. I’m so grateful that I only had to do this for half a day. I also got to know a cool french guy that I was working with. We had dinner at 6:45pm and got to take our time to eat. We then had our break after dinner. Normally we would have 20 minutes after dinner, but no one told us what to do after dinner. (Where we supposed to do more work? Rejoin our group? or Wait around for someone to notice us?) Well Yonitan and I decided to go with choice number three. We thought we were getting out of something, but when we got tired of just sitting outside we went to the barracks. When we got there we found out that everyone was on our free hour before bedtime. Great we just hid out and missed part of our free time. Karma. We went to bed very early, and that can only mean one thing. We are getting up early.
Monday (The Longest Day)
Wake up: 3:30am
We all were dressed in our Bet Uniform ready for the day when we found out the reason for getting up early. It was time to make up for being late changing the day before. We then spent the next hour or so changing from Aleph Uniform to Bet Uniform… We were giving only 7 minutes to do this. The first time I was right on time, but as we kept changing I got down to about 5 minutes. Then when my commander got tired of that we went up by the dining room, we though maybe food? Nope, PT (Physical Training/Punishment). We then spent time during pushups, sit-ups, sprinting, and making formations in short bursts of time. Then we headed back to the Barracks for room cleaning. I don’t really mind cleaning and sometimes I like doing it, but not in the Army. We are first giving 15 minutes to shave, brush our teeth, shine our shoes, and come back outside. Then we are giving 4 minutes or 3 1/2 minutes to pack our stuff away. Then another 4 mins to make our beds, then another 4 mins to clean the floors, then another 4 mins to clean the hall way, and then another 4 mins to finish everything. This is a pain in the A$$. I hate it. It takes about 30 seconds to run to our room, and about 50 seconds to run outside and make formation. So there is no time to fully finish everything, plus only a few of us watch the time and make sure everyone makes it down stairs on time. However we are getting very smart. We wake up about half an hour before formation. We shave, brush, shine and clean as much as we can first. Then in the next 15 minutes we try to finish everything, so that when we have the bursts of 4 minutes we just run up make fine adjustments and run down. My commander is very impressed that we do this, like she never thought we could come up with such a plan. I’m also not in the room with most of my tzvet. I’m in the overflow room with three Tzvetim. We also have a plan of who does what so we get done very quick. Finally after we are done, we all head to Breakfast. This consists of eggs, cheese, bread, chocomilk (Shocko), tea, coffee, and salad. I always make sure I have my Lactose pills with me, or I just eat cucumbers and shitty coffee. *That reminds me of a song.
“They say that in the Army the Coffee is Mighty Fine. It looks like muddy water and tastes like turpentine. Oh Lord I want to go, but they won’t let me goooooo homeeeeee hommmeeee home.” -US ARMY/NMMI
We then are giving our 2o min break after to digest. I’ve now been up for four hours or so. FUN. We then headed to our class room. We had a class reviewing what we had learned the past two weeks. First Aid, Gun Stuff, Radio, and finished with another practice of the National Anthem, HaTikvah (Click to Listen). We are really good singers, btw. Then we preceded to the morning flag raising with the Pulga. We have inspection, flag raising, Pulga Commander’s Morning speech, and then we all sing HaTikvah. My tzvet/Maklaka sang really loud. No one else sings very loud and the commander was very impressed. We then returned to the class room. Todays new topic = מסכה אב”כ (Chemical Warfare Mask). We learned all about chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and how to use the mask in case of an attack. We got to practice putting it on as fast as possible. I started out the class and did it in 10 seconds. No one could beat me until the last few guys and some retries got the time down to 7 seconds. I wasn’t able to have a retry to defend my title. We then went to a class with the whole Makalaka (Platoon, about 40 people) with the Makalaka Mifikedit (Mem, Mem מ”מ) She drove the point home of being ready for a chemical attack with pictures of places I can’t talk about that are near our borders. War this summer? Who knows? Lets hope for peace for now.
We then got to head for Lunch, my favorite meal of the day. Why? My own special microwaveable meal with meat. We then got our 30 minute break after lunch. I really enjoy this breaks, all we do is sit around and chat and meet new people. Its quite fun, plus I get to practice my hebrew. I’ve started nicknaming people too, prob the best part of my day. The newest edition= Cucaracha (Cockroach in Spanish)…I’m not too sure he enjoys this name though… This is also the only time I really get to hang out with Herbie from my Ulpan. You can read his blog too! He is a real writer too, so its a good read. Click on the link on the left.
The afternoon was spent mostly on classes, which I found my self doing the classic “Head bob” trying not to fall asleep in front of the Mem Mem. I didn’t get called out because I think most people were doing the same thing. My recommendation to them…Don’t wake us up at 3:30am, run us to death, and then put us in a hot class room after a heavy meal…but thats just a thought. A bunch of the lone soldiers also got to meet with our personal Mashaket Tash. She is in-charge of our rights and benefits, a very important soldier for us. She can speak with us in English and she is not a commander so she treats us like a friend and not a subordinate. We also had a really fun and interesting class with just my tzvet afterwards. We talked about culture. Why is it important? How are we all different? Why is where we at so special? It was very interesting comparing and contrasting our different cultures. We do have someone from every continent except Antarctica. Once the classes were over for the day we got into a large formation with the whole Makalka in a Het. A Het is the Hebrew Letter ח, so the formation looks like a Het. The Mem Mem every night before we go home reads off the punishments of the week. All the punishments this week were from my Tzvet of 14 people. Two guys were late to the morning formation by about a minute. There punishment, Two days of base. No holiday at home for them. The other, being outside the designated area with a girl. His punishment, two hours on base before the holiday. Shitty, but thats the Army for you.
We then went to Dinner and had our break. Now usually after dinner on the day before we go home, we got right to our free hour and then bed. Today was a bit different though. What could be the big surprise???? A PT Test (Physical Training Test). Everyone in the Army has to take this test a few times every so often. This consists of Push-ups, Sit-ups, and a 2 KM run (1.24 miles). I was not fully prepared for this and we have not been doing much Physical activity. I did 54 push-ups, 42 sit-ups, and I came in 13th of 30 something people in the run. Not Bad, but not the best. This does give me room for improvement which they measure after the next test.
Finally we were sent to bed! What a long Day we went to bed around 10pm. About 18 hours. I am so thankful I have Tuesday to Sunday off. Next week is the last week of basic training. The big part of the week is going to be spent in the field learning to shoot our M-16s. I am very excited!
**Next Post: My Holiday, Shavout and a Hadag Nahash Concert.