hiking, history, israel, middle east, photography, travel
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Tekoa: A trip to the Northern Judaean Mountains

The West Bank

My friend never said exactly the words, “I live in the West Bank”, so it kind of took me by surprise when we were entering into it in the dark of night. Not sure how I didn’t put the two together when he said “I live on a settlement”, but to my defense I was still new to the country. So it wasn’t until we were about five minutes away when my eyes widened with (I will admit) a little bit fear but also a lot of excitement.

And that is how I found myself in the West Bank, Palestinian territory. 

I suppose it’s possible that you’re not exactly sure on what a settlement is, so I will try and define it for you in my own words:

Israeli settlements are communities of Israelis living inside the borders of Palestinian territory, such as the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Anyways, I don’t want to go to the political side of things, I only wish to share my experiences I had while staying on this settlement, and show the pictures of a place that has truly has awe-inspiring beauty.

It is hard to put into words and explain Tekoa. It has a truly wonderful energy about it. Maybe it’s the surrounding mountains, history, or the people. I think all of it together makes it so amazing. It is truly unique to any other place I have seen.


And the ancient caves!! Ancient caves everywhere! We’re not talkin’  about some natural caves in the side of a mountain, these were man made homes that the Byzantine monks lived in.2014-09-12 14.54.592014-09-12 15.13.36

My twin brother, Aaron

My twin brother, Aaron.

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Some people had moved into some of the caves in recent years. I didn’t see anyone living there, but I did see some things for a home left behind, like a mattress. Could you imagine living in something with so much history? How cool. Until you get bit by a cave tick, and then it’s not so cool. They are not just ordinary ticks. What happens when they bite, as known in Israel, is something called “Cave Fever”. Maybe they are part of the reason why nobody lives there now…hopefully not.2014-09-12 15.25.242014-09-12 15.23.55 2014-09-12 15.24.31

Continuing on our hike

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Levi

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Stand at the edge just to scare me. :P

Stand at the edge just to scare me. 😛

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Next was the watering hole. It was so dark in there, and the water was even darker. It was not just one big hole like an oversized swimming pool, there were also underwater tunnels leading to I don’t know where. Underwater tunnels! It was frightening, at least to me, yet exhilarating at the same time. It took at least fifteen minutes of convincing for me to jump in, I was ready for the loch ness monster to grab my ankles.

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There was a swing on the opposite side, I swam there as fast my little legs would kick

There was a swing on the opposite side, I swam there as fast my little legs would kick

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So below is the view from our friend’s neighborhood. Can you imagine waking up here every day? Sitting there for your morning cup of coffee?

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How about that tiny little house there? Yep, that is house. There, everyone builds their own house, or rents one that someone else built. Not all of them are this tiny, and others of course have running water, plumbing, electricity, the whole sha-bang. The ones who don’t have indoor plumbing use a earth friendly system that involves a lot of sawdust.

Inside my friend's living room area.

Inside my friend’s living room area.

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Levi in his workshop

Levi in his workshop

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In the picture below is Levi’s swimming pool and the spot where he’s building his new house.

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