Sounds kind of crazy, maybe? I don’t think so, but allow me to explain:
I absolutely LOVE to travel. I love learning new languages, I love geography, I love crossing places off of my bucket list. It’s a thrill, and I get pleasure out of knowing that I am comfortable going almost anywhere as a solo traveler when so many others (especially fellow women) are often reluctant to do so. For me, there is nothing more wonderful than finding myself in a brand-new place, with a brand-new culture and language.
So, almost two and a half years ago, I visited Israel for the first time. I didn’t go for any kind of religious or political reason, but out of simple curiosity. I wanted to learn more about the Israel-Palestine conflict, but I also just wanted to experience life in the region and talk to people who live there.
Before I even boarded my flight, reality struck like a hammer to the head. I was booked on El Al, Israel’s national airline, and I was unprepared for the onslaught of questioning that I would be subject to before I could even get in line to go through security. It was intense; I ended up being sequestered with two other redheads, and we sat together as a group as the El Al staff searched all of our belongings. Fortunately, we made our flight. Although I was shaking a little, I was very happy to be on the plane and on my way.
Long story short, I ended up spending a solid portion of 2015 living in Israel. I lived in Tel Aviv, a liberal, cosmopolitan, and very beautiful city. I worked at a startup incubator on the port off of the Mediterranean Sea. I made a great friend, began to learn two languages, and saw a lot of wonderful art. I also visited parts of the West Bank, witnessed religious extremism up close, had additional problems with Israeli security, and saw quite a bit of government-endorsed discrimination. I guess you could say my experience was a mixed bag, but it was certainly an adventure.
I get bored easily. I get antsy. My focus in life right now is getting a full-time job but I do hope to return to the region one day. I want to see more of the West Bank, and I also really want to go to Jordan. Maybe UAE too, or Qatar. I am very aware, probably more than most people, of the various instabilities in the Middle East. But that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker for me. Life is risk, and although I don’t plan on traveling to any war zones, I do want to spend more time in that part of the world. Life for me is a learning experience, a class that I never want to end.
I have a ton of photos from my time in Israel, but I’m going to divvy them up. I’m saving conflict-related shots for a future post. I also have a series of photos of Tel Aviv’s street cats, but that will also be saved for another day.
Tonight’s pictures are some of my most personal I guess. I have better shots, but these are just the introductory images. I don’t know…
I think that’s enough for one night. Thoughts welcome, as always.