Yom asal, Yom basal = 1 day honey, 1 day onions

Trip Start Sep 15, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2011

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Flag of Israel  ,
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some days I think it's a miracle that I haven't been in a bus crash.  Other days I consider it no surprise since everything seems to operate by it's own design here.  Perhaps that's one of the reasons why they call this the Holy Land.  Whatever they call it, I am finding it to be one of the most challenging places I've visited in the past 10 years.  How can it be that I followed my heart to travel halfway around the world and now I just want to be home?

I think the most difficult part for me is feeling comfortable being a woman alone.  While unsolicited comments are annoying, what really bugs me is the stereotype that all Western women are "easy."   So in my (perhaps naive) desire to respectfully represent a different side, I try not to make eye contact with anyone outside of the house or office.  Yet this feels increasingly isolating.  I am going to have to find a new way to connect with people because being an ice queen is not a part of my DNA.

On a more positive note, my co-worker invited me to see his traditional Palestinian dance troop perform.  He is incredibly talented and the show was powerful to watch. 

I also met my old college friend, Khalaf, in Ramallah last Thursday night.  He took me on a walking tour of his hometown and then we met a big group of his friends at a beautiful restaurant. 

During dinner I learned that by requesting not to have an Israeli stamp on my passport (so that I can travel to Lebanon later) and having no additional paperwork, I could have issues getting out of the West Bank.  Thankfully Khalaf's friend was able to "sneak" me out of a secondary checkpoint in her car later that night.  She is an American too, so the guards just assumed we were settlers and waved us through. 

Due to these passport issues I wasn't able to visit Bethlehem or go to Quaker meeting this weekend as planned.  Therefore on the first day of the work week (which is Sunday here) I immediately took care of business at the Ministry of Interior.  I certainly found the process frustrating, but it made me realize this is only a fraction of what others living here experience on a daily basis.

For now I am just trying to count my small blessings ... like eating fresh pomegranates and Antoinette translating Arabic jokes and soap operas for me.  My co-intern also just showed me where the educational bookstore is located.  I can't tell you how nice it is to finally find a place to read and write other than my room.

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Michele on

I really enjoy reading about your Holy Land adventures, although I hate to hear about your frustrations. I recently found out about a new service that you may be interested in for your future travels. HolyLandBus.com is a new unique service is the first, and only, hop on-hop off service in the region AND it offers safe transport, reliable accommodation and side trips, accompanied by well-travelled, educated guides. It's an incredible way to enjoy your adventure during your future Christian pilgrimages & may be useful while you are there as well!

Lisa Schultz on

Thanks for the updates, friend. I'm sorry you are having a lonely time- traveling can be like that. :( We miss you here.

Clydiam on

I really enjoy reading about your adventures. We leave tomorrow morning for our trip and hope to meet you in Cairo on Dec 4th. We will be at the Conrad Cairo, 1191 Corniche El Nil, Tel: 011-202-2580-8000. We have a tour in the morning before check in and a farewell dinner with the group that evening. Sorry, I can't be more specific about the schedule, but that's all I know. We are looking forward to seeing you.

Catherine Shaw on

Ok the size of the bread with Antoinette is impressive, enjoy!

Ros on

You can fly back to Turkey for Thanksgiving... I'll set a plate for you and oh yes there will be pumpkin pie. Door always open.

I think a new road saying for your signature could be 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.'

Stay safe.

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