Being the good tourist I am, I took 5 million pictures of everything from cereal boxes to the Western Wall. So, I shall pick out on the best and most intriguing of my photos to share with you (these don’t include Jerusalem marathon photos. For those, go to my race report HERE).
1. Putting my hand on the spot where Jesus put his hand almost 2,000 years ago (station #5 on the Via Dolorosa). Acquiring (in one second) the germs of 9 million people from around the world.
2. Leaving a wish in the Wailing/Western Wall. Better than a birthday cake and candles. What did I wish for? A better butt, of course.
3. Hello. I am a tourist.
4. I was intrigued by the “security fence/wall” that separates the country (mostly the West Bank is cut off) into two pieces (422 miles total – some fence, some wall). 13 years old, this wall costs about 260 million per year in maintenance alone. There are conflicting views about this wall. In 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered it as a measure to protect Israelis from Palestinian suicide bombers. Israeli sources say it has stopped terrorism by 96%. (if you look closely at this picture in the top left, you can see the wall).
5. Rubbing Dead Sea mud on my body and those bodies of my counterparts, who are all really out of shape. #dontmindrubbingotherpeoplesbodies
6. Getting the best lamb schwarma in the universe from this over-enthused and bad ass young man.
7. My skinny-ass floating in the Dead Sea. You really float. Like, with no doggy paddling or anything. It is crazy.
8. Drinking on the tour bus. What? When you have a DD (designated driver) you need to embrace it
9. Finding canine love in Tel Aviv. Trying to make my Heidi back home jealous so she misses me more.
10. Eating my face off at every.single.meal. This might help with #2 (not #2 as in “poop” but #2 picture in this list).
11. Catching air on the coast of the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv/Jaffa. This only took 49 tries.
12. Taking a trip to the local grocery store and being mesmerized that they have Trix (I thought they were just for kids, but they are for Israelis too!):
13. Viewing the vastness of the Dead Sea and the Judean desert from the infamous Masada.
I could go on for days about this trip, and I have.
I don’t quite know how to encapsulate it all or how to adequately express the experience. Suffice it to say that Israel now has a piece of my heart and I have a true fondness for the country and its people. I felt brave leaving my cozy and safe home and venturing to this unknown place alone. What I quickly realized is that I was never alone. I made life long friends and was embraced by the people of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I always felt welcome and I always felt safe (even often surrounded by groups of security men/women with machine guns).
The world feels a bit smaller to me now. An Instagram picture immediately travels 7,000 miles and is “liked” or viewed by friends within seconds. A Face-Time call to my family in the middle of the night Israeli time puts me at my spot at the dinner table with my family. A sleepless night spent on an airplane over the Atlantic has me waking up in a different world, but with people who are just people like me, one way or another.
Well, since I don’t sit still for long, today Ken and I leave for Moab, Utah for the Canyonlands Half Marathon, which is tomorrow.
Food for thought:
Would you rather travel the world for free your entire life (flights, hotels) or have $200,000 added to your bank account right now?
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