Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 7: Masada, The Dead Sea & Goodbye

Day 7 was our last day in Israel and we decided we would reserve it for all the tourist stuff we need to do in this part of the country.

First stop was Masada, the palace fortress of King Herod and as the Masada legend goes, was also the place of the last stand of the Jews against the Romans in 73 B.C.E.

Words cannot describe what we saw. The remains of Masada are still there and or have been partly refurbished to give you a sense of what life was like in the palace of the King of the Israelites. From the technology they had to keep rooms cool in the scorching sun of the desert to the ways they stored water during flash floods.

But the story that would capture us would be the legend of Masada. Josephus was the only man who recorded this story with incredible precision. The story is not in the Bible or any other recognised literature but it is a firm belief amongst Jews that it took place. Click here for the fully account of the Siege of Masada.

We were told that until the 1980’s the Israeli army would shout out “Masada Shall Never Fall Again” in Hebrew when they were sworn in for military service. Interesting stuff.

At Masada we bumped into another group of South Africans who were also on a discovery of Israel. It was a wonderful chance encounter, and yes we were very noisy when we all starting speaking Sepedi, isiZulu and Setshwana.

 But the highlight of the day had to be our next stop. Swimming in the Dead Sea. The chemical mix of the Dead Sea ensures that you are able to float and not sink. The ground is made up of mud, that if smeared on your body, removes the dead tissue and makes for a very smooth finish. We did it all.

When we were done being silly, we made our way back to the hotel to freshen up, then one more reflection session to share our key take outs, and close of the day with a lovey dinner at a local restaurant before heading out to the airport.

It was great to hear that we all had something to take away from the trip, and we all felt it was a valuable experience. Many of us talked about the inspiration we received from each other and how we looked forward to taking some of the relationships established on the trip forward when we get back home. One of the guys, an e-commerce entrepreneur Paul Galatis shared one of his inventions for the benefit of the group, an app called Names & Faces which is a very user-friendly directory that stores everyone’s contact details and pictures for ease of reference when you need to reconnect. A simple yet impactful idea that will ensure we stay in touch. Thanks Paul.

I would like to take this opportunity in this last blog of the trip to extend my gratitude to all the people that put together #YoungTreps2015.

Dan Brotman, the Executive Director of SAIF, Setlogane Manchidi the Head of CSI at Investec, our guides Emily and Muki for taking care of us, scheduling business meetings, and even negotiating taxi rides for us. Of course this trip would’ve been impossible without all the entrepreneurs who were part of the trip, so I would like to thank each one personally.

Akhona Maqwazima: You are one the funniest and smartest guys I met on this trip. You have presence, coupled with a sense of awareness of your world and some of the problems that need solutions. Work hard on that IT business. See you in East London, when we launch the radio station.

Ayala Raichlin: I learned so much from you on this trip. In your youthful exhuberance you shared with me your perspective on Israel which was very insightful. Thanks also for taking us to the West Bank and staying with us, sitting through what could not have been an easy experience for you. You have earned my respect.

Caroline Mutsharini. First of all Caroline, lets agree that number two doesn’t count! J On a more serious note, you are a wonderful soul and very, very caring. Even in business is a valuable quality. Hang onto it. All the best with the contruction business, and yes, we are gate crashing the wedding!

Eddie Majozi: The main man. The deal maker. Thank you for a great outing you took us on the streets of Tel Aviv and treating the whole group. It was a very kind gesture that is truly appreciated. In fact, your kindness came out throughout the week with your support of Neftaly’s community project and potentially investing in some of the entrepreneurs who were with us on the trip. Thanks big guy, and sorry for the bruised elbow, but that’s what you get for now painting your body in mud and floating on the Dead Sea.

Elaine Jacob: My homegirl from Chatsworth. You are such a blessing, I tell you. I am very happy you grabbed an opportunity to get mentored by Jonathan Beare – now that’s how real entrepreneurs do it, they grab opportunities. All the best with the retail and fashion business. I hope you have not forgotten the favour you owe me and I owe you when we get back home. Deal?

Fazlur Pandor: Mr Cool himself. A POWER Man. Thank you very much for your kind words of encouragement for the station. I will ensure we keep making you proud. You have a rare trait,I noticed by the way. You have the ability to listen to everyone, respectfully and decide what you will take on and whats not for you – all the while not making anyone feel out of place or judged. I hope to stay in tough.

Karabo Songo: The Commander in Chief! You are my pedi brother I have never had wena. And yes I have learned that I must shut up and let you finish your trail of thought, because when you hit the punchline it is often worth the wait. Thanks for making the week special my man, and yes we are going to Zurich and Manhattan. But first lets work together in our space back home. Oh, and I think its time you pop that question chap.

Krystyna Blonski: I met you almost a year ago and what I remember was your passion for your business, and you even brought us boxes of pizza with vouchers to redeem to taste your product. That left an impression on me about you. Little did I know we would reconnect. You strike me as someone who know exactly what they want, and if I’m right that is a very good thing! Stay awesome. Oh and you still owe me pizza for my wifi.

Lumka Sibiya: SME!!! And it does not stand for Small Medium Enterprises! I’m not sure you are going to outlive this one with me. An absolute pleasure to meet you on this trip. Your calm approach to things made an impression on me. Your comments about having seen the Holocaust Museum and thinking that back home you would want your children to also know, intimately, their past was an impact on me also. Oh and remember: You didn’t really win the trip.

Marike Groenewald: You were so refreshing Marike. Always cheerful and always truthful. I experienced the latter in a short conversation with you when we were discussing Israel vs. South Africa. Your perspective surprised me, pleasantly so. We need more of you at home. Thanks also for making me okay about not being okay. Like you I struggle to be comfortable in discomfort. I feel the need to solve it NOW. Now I know I’m weird. All the best with the Thinking Environment and let me know how your services could assist our business back home.

Mpodumo Doubaba: The Revolutionary Leader! Lots of fire in your belly, my brother and that is a very good thing. Thanks for the debates that always left me seeing things differently. You are clearly a very intelligent young man. You have built something to be proud of in your business at a very tender age. Now that you told me what you want, and its out in the universe, go out and do the things that will get you there, but make sure it’s the things you are passionate about. And I wont call you ‘Mpo’ ever again.

Neftaly Malatjie: The man I call ‘24’ and which in turn calls me ‘37’. You are a brave son of gun I tell you. St your age, to have done the things you have and built the institution that Southern African Youth is the stuff of champions. Well done young man, and think about that unique proposition we spoke about. Never hesitate to call on us, the old people, if you need some help or just to talk. Oh, and stop sleeping in front of billionaires!

Ntuthuko Shezi. Mr Scratch Mobile. It was awesome to reconnect my brother, and hear the story of your business once again. I am excited for you as you enter other ventures, this time with love and support of your own young family. I thoroughly enjoyed all your quirky questions and comments that led to many people we met having to give us angles and perspectives they would otherwise not. I am reminded of your question to the poor guy in the Kibbutz. Owakithi wena. Never change bro!

Paul Galatis: The President!!! You are a weird dude. Weird in many interesting, intelligent, quirky and funny ways. It was awesome meeting you champ, and making connections with people around us. What you and your partners have done and continue to do with Yuppie Chef is brilliant. Your talk at the dinner was very inspiring and genuine. Thanks for Names & Faces. You didn’t have to do that, but you did. It says a lot about who you are. Thank you. I have a strange feeling we won’t do too well avoiding each other. On that note see you Thursday night.

Pfadzani Mphanama: The fighter!!! Its to late to argue with me now, it’s the benefits of the written word. J Absolute pleasure to meet you my sister. You are making a success in a very tough industry of fashion, and to make it thus far says a lot about your resilience. I think you are very resilient and have learned to take the bad along with the good and move on. That is a very good quality to have. All the best.

Ryan Peimer: The Magician!!! Hitch!!!! The Voice!!!! I give up… way too many titles. It was awesome to meet you champ. You are clearly multi-talented and I suspect that in itself can be a challenge, as you passions are wider but there are only 24 hours in a day and only one of you. I am however, very confident, that you have the intellectual capacity and spiritual capacity to make the right decisions for yourself and your future. I wish you all the best my brother. Don’t hesitate to contact me about some of the ideas we discussed, especially on the radio/ hitch stuff and production.

Shawn Theunissen: The insightful man. Thanks for making the trip interesting my brother. I learned much from your insights and piercing questions. I look forward to working with you to support entrepreneurs back in SA.

Sibongile Shikwambana: The lady who hates selfies! Thank you for making the trip interesting. The back of the bus laughs certainly added spice to the trip. All the best with the business as you change the face of an industry that has been historically dominated by men. I see a future Dr. Thandi Ndlovu in you. Go forth and be great.

Tania Mulligan: My sister from another! You are just too awesome. All the best with Kushesh – I call it, a normal business idea operating in a unique space of medical consumables. I am reminded of your elevator pitch at the dinner with Jonathan Beare, where he kept throwing tough questions at you and you returned each one with an answer packed with even more energy and vigour. All the best my sister, pass my regards to your husband that you talk about all the time!

Thato Mokhothu: The lady I call ‘Mangaung’. If anyone on the trip didn’t know that Bloem gets down, they now know that for sure. The life of our trip (except for the time we lost you at Masada), thank you for wonderful spirit and all the best with your plans to support the young people of your province.

Tlhokomelo Mogale: The Fixer! You, my sister are an awesome lady and professional. I truly wish you all the best with your banking career (what’s left of it, at least . Sorry, I couldn’t resist). On a serous note, continue to kick some butt at Investec and thank you for taking the time to hang with these crazy entrepreneurs.

Willem Janse van Rensburg: The silent intellectual. Please never stop being a dreamer my brother and all the best with the small, medium and big plans you have for the business including the very big plan you have,

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