The Masa Kumta, Part I
All combat units do masaot as part of training- lengthy treks with full gear, each concluding with us carrying ‘injured’ soldiers on stretchers to simulate that actual situation. From the first, the distances build to prepare us for our masa kumta- a 55 kilometer odyssey through Israel’s center, which we, upon finishing, see our bamba-reeking, unmowed-lawn-colored bakum berets replaced with nice new Barney-purple ones. The culmaination of this masa is the realization of our military identity, the true inception to all things, people, and places Givati. Naturally, everyone’s pumped. Except me.
For Negevistim, the prospect of carrying all of our konenut for 55k is highly uninviting, and becomes even more highly uninviting after some Negevist friends who already earned their berets, when asked about how it was, proceed to respond with:
“OH MY G-D. The masa kumta. OH. MY. G-D.”
“You will get a scorching case of jock itch.”
“Do you like your feet? It’s been nice knowing them.”
And I was like, well this is awkward… is there something you want to share with me, feet?
Couple this with the fact that I found the previous masa of 30k (my first with full konenut) to be as enjoyable as trying to return something to an Israeli retail store (“the customer is always wrong”) which featured my legs hobbling to the finish line, neck and back feeling like they just were just togged up in Flavor Flav’s entire neck bling collection.
So with the thought of my unsuccessful attempt to gain pity points from my commander during that masa ringing fresh (“THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE I WILL PASS OUT OR SINK INTO QUICKSAND!!!”) I set off tonight for what ostensibly will be the most physically demanding night of my life. Only this time, I come prepared:
1) Meet my new best masa friends, Adon Clif:
and Giveret U:
Both help my body recover. Both fit snugly into my vest. Both convince Israelis I have super powers.
2) Meet Ari, the most badass Canadian in the IDF who’s also the machlaka’s main entertainer.
Ari and I decide to stick together throughout, to start joking around from kilometer #1 and keep joking. We both spent this past week improperly translating Israeli curses to english:
Shoe of detective! = “אינעל שורלק”
Most old English currency! = “אכו שילינג”
And got our Israeli buddies to start ending sentences with EH? e.g. “Israel needs to get some real maple syrup, EH?” It’s gonna be a good masa w/ this guy around.
3) Contrary to the aforementioned masa which was one endless, shoulder splintering, ‘lama-achalti-imaaa!!!’ undertaking, I decide to break this one into 14, hour-long mini masaot, with the goal of making it to the ten minute break we get after each hour. Taking things hour by hour is a more manageable game plan for how much mental and physical energy I should be expending.
At 16:30 we get into formation- two straight, compressed lines. Clouds nudge each other sideways making way for a burning evening sun. Our faces are striped in green and black. No one knows what the next 14 hours have in store. I take a deep breath.
Our feet move forward.