My answer to “how was your trip?” - Beautiful!
The cities we visited: Tel Aviv, Eilat, Negev Desert, Netanya, Haifa, Acco, Tzfat, Hadera, Caesaerea, Tiberias, Jerusalem… pretty much all of Israel.
Israel is an inspiring country. I was impressed with its independence, its agriculture, its strength, and mostly for its fierce patriotism!
My favorite city: Jerusalem. I heart Jerusalem! I can’t really explain why, but it can have a lot to do with its history. The history and story of places are so appealing to me. And Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world, so yea I kinda liked it!
My favorite historical site: Masada. I was in complete and utter admiration and respect for the construction, the location, the people, and the history of this place. A-Mazing!
My favorite museum (and the only one I went to): Yad Vashem, the Holocaust History Museum. It's hard to swallow the beauty of this museum when it's choking in the disturbing real artifacts, photos, and letters of the systematic extermination of the Jews during the war. Daunting. Sadness. Emotional. Absurd reality. An absolute must see/visit for the memory, testimonies, honor, and education.
My favorite tour: The Western Wall Tunnels. The Western wall we see is only an eighth of the original entire wall. The tour takes us underground to give us a better vision of the depth and size of the original wall. Unimaginable! Think: the largest stone (which is underground) is 44 feet long and 10 feet wide, weighing 570 tons. Imagine moving that stone two thousand years ago. Plus, on this tour, I was standing at the closest possible spot of the holy of holies, the most holy place.
The Western Wall: Walking up to this wall, I felt intimidated, not sure what to do or how to feel anything. Even for a non-religious person like me, I was hesitant to be in a holy place and not feel a connection. Standing at the wall, with a piece of paper in my hand (a previously written thought out prayer – maybe for another blog), I just started to cry with strong emotions and thoughts of Robin coursing through my heart and soul. I shoved my paper in the wall and walked away backwards. Now, I understand why they call it the Wailing Wall.
A moment of awe: I was standing in Israel at the border of Egypt, while able to see Saudi Arabia and Jordan. I was so awed by that moment of “almost” being in four countries at once. Oh how I would have loved to visit Jordan and Egypt!
Food - Yummo! The food was delicious, very much Middle Eastern style, which is what I grew up on. Israelis do love their salads. Salads galore!
Goldstar – Israeli dark lager beer
Chocolate –popping chocolate bar. It was so deliciously fun. It was like pop rocks but inside milk chocolate bar. How cool?! In fact, I’m eating the last of the Israeli chocolate I brought back as I write this.
Sunflower Seeds – the largest sunflower seeds ever! All produce in Israel was LARGE and in charge!
Zitoune – Olives. I love olives. Olives everywhere!
Mint tea – drank at least two glasses of mint tea a day.
McDonalds – They rule the world! McD’s in the middle of the Negev desert, nothing else in sight…seriously, I’m not kidding you. It was crazy when I saw McD’s in famous Europe cities like London, Madrid, Rome, but in the middle of the desert that just blew my mind away!
Beaches: They’ve got nothing on Maui beaches or even parts of Florida. I didn’t find the desire or need to spend time on Israeli beaches, but then again I have been to Maui! Can you even compare?
Bodies of water: My toes touched the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee… collected rocks from each to place at Robin’s grave.
I’m a sucka for tourist shops; a total junkie. I love knick knacks and paddy whacks!
Mailed out postcards with three days left of vacation! Oh well, better late than never.
Transportation: We rented two itty bitty cars. We were a total of 8 people on this trip (a number, by the way, that’s too high for major travel excursions). It was 3 couples (one of which were my parents, the other two my uncles; then my cousin and I). Our car rides were bitter sweet. Hated the traveling drama, it was commuting hell. The running joke was that we couldn’t get to our destination without at least 2 u-turns. Not quite a funny joke to me. I didn’t mind catching up on my sleep, but wished the journey was just as interesting as our destinations…and it easily could have been. I wanted to stop for amazing views, to run through a field of sunflowers, take amazing sunset pictures, and just to absorb the journey. This is why I prefer to travel alone.
Highways: Super pristine clean! I never thought I would ever say that about a highway, but it’s true!
Camel ride: I rode a camel for the first time ever. They were smelly walking up to them, but while riding I didn’t smell a thing. They are such gentle creatures.
ATV ride: I rode an ATV for the first time ever in the Negev desert. My cousin, Asif, took me for a wild ride with wheelies and tires fighting to stay on the ground. So cool! I love that when I was asked if I wanted to go on this ride, I didn’t even hesitate. I thought, hell yeah, Robin would do it, so YES! Had you asked me 2 years ago, I might have said no entirely!
Israelis are horny! They drive horribly, park terribly and honk at every chance they get. Fuck! Enough with the honking! Geez, and I thought Miami was bad…ha!
Favorite Sign in Israel: Go In Peace
Other favorite sign: Shalom Y’all
Languages spoken on this trip: not all of which I speak; French, Moroccan Arabic, Hebrew, and my made-fun-of Frenglish!
Quotes of the trip:
“Ofaqim” – a city in the Negev desert that when we got lost in that town, we used the city name as an expression of “Oh Fuck him/it!” It was used a lot.
“Sababah” – a Hebrew word taught to us by family. The meaning is for a variation of “it’s all good” or “no worries.” It can be used in any format. It started becoming similar to a “woosa” mantra for car #2.
“Il n’y a rien a dire” – a French phrase used by my uncle Prosper at least a dozen times a day. It means, “There is nothing else to say about it.” My uncle overused it so much, that I used it in opposite meaning, in sarcastic tones.
“Sleha” – In Hebrew, it means, “excuse me” but in Arabic the word sounds like you are saying a bad word.
“Serenity Now!” – a quote I used a million times in silence. Thank you George Costanza’s dad.
“Toda Raba” – in Hebrew means Thank you!
I learned that high school drama never ends even in old age. Oy Vey! I hated high school and to think I have to live through it the rest of my life is dreadful. I wish people would just grow up so I don’t have to live through my high school years again. Ridunculous!
11:11 was everywhere on this trip. At first, I was able to keep track of the few instances I encountered 11:11, but by the end of the trip I couldn’t keep up even in my journal. Robin was with me on this trip. He was not just on my mind and in my heart; he was literally there with me in spirit. It was crazy good!
My nickname on this trip: Trucker! My cousin Annie kept calling me a trucker. I’m sure you can imagine why…I curse a lot…shocker! I curse in public places, in private places, in holy places, and in front of anyone with no shame…maybe a little shame, but only cause of the reactions I see. Cursing is a release! It’s like screaming on the top of your lungs! If I could scream instead of curse, I would! But I mean a scream like in the Garden State scene when they scream into the infinite abyss while standing on top of an old yellow caboose in the rain…yea, like that. Would I look crazier screaming or cursing?! I’d probably scream curse words anyway…
Weather: A freak of nature! Best time of the year for weather, that’s what we were told. There’s no rain and mild heat. NOT
“There are seldom any rainy days at all from May through September” it says in my travel book. It rained twice while I was there. And a major, Florida-summer like thunderstorm one night. Seriously?! “seldom any rainy days at all” my ass!
Also, add to the fact that it was COLD, like freezing Canada cold almost every night. I borrowed jackets and scarves and even a winter jacket one night. I mean seriously, isn’t it supposed to be Africa-hot?!
Mother’s Day - Spent my first mother’s day without Mathew. It never felt like mother’s day that day anyway. I got to spend Mother’s day the day after I returned. I love being a mama! And being away from Mathew for 2 weeks was hard, but I do have to tell you we both handled it extremely well. Our love is healthy and loyal. We have nothing but confidence in each other’s love. Amazed!
Israel’s Independence Day – celebrated by hanging out at the beach with my cousin and eating the best falafel ever on the streets of Netanya
Nakba Protests - marks the anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, a day many Palestinians call "nakba," meaning "catastrophe." Eight people were reported killed that day in separate incidents. And there I was in Israel hearing fighter jets, military helicopters, ambulances, and UN vans roaring by all day long. To say I was worried is an understatement!
Favorite worthwhile part of the trip: meeting family I didn’t even know existed. Rachel, Yaelle, Leah, Yaala, Avital, Bathen, Shimron, Livni, Menachem, Ruthy, Sylvia, Yaacov, and more! <3
Things I didn’t get to do: Plant a tree in my brother’s name!
Hebrew quote for my boyfriend: ani ledodi vedodi li = I am my beloved and my beloved is mine (Song of Songs-Psalm 6:3) <3
So this is just a fraction of what I experienced while in Israel. I have so much more to say about my trip to Israel, some too simple to include, some probably forgotten, and some intentionally left out for the greater good. Got questions? Ask!