Dodging Lightning in the Holy Land
It’s been two weeks since my last confession um, blog! Main reason for that, apart from my general recent lack of blogging, is that I have been off travelling as promised.
To be honest, Israel had never been on my bucket list of places to visit. Because of the politics as well as well, all the religion in general. BUT I have always held pretty strong opinions so I thought to myself, if nothing else, it would be good to go and see for myself.
In short, it’s pretty damn amazing to be walking through a place where Romans, Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians and more have come and gone. In short there are not many places in the world that have been occupied by more invading armies than the middle-east region except for maybe England.
It’s distinctly odd to walk down a bustling city street and hear Arabic, Hebrew, Yiddish, English, Russian, German, French and Italian spoken all around you. Oh and did I mention that, even in Autumnal September it is HOT and especially in the coastal cities, HUMID.
I’ve bumped in to plenty of Israelis on my travels and generally they are a pretty loud, outgoing bunch. Encountered on home turf, there are also incredibly hospitable, friendly and helpful. All the guide books essentially recommend you stay away from eating meat, enjoy the Falafel etc. etc. I say do better research! Some truly amazing restaurants are to be found with incredible food. Just get off the tourist strips and look for the kind of places you’d go to in your own home town.
The big surprise was the cost: damn this is an expensive country! When converted most things cost as much as in Europe, some things even more (beer!). Of course if you head off into the markets, fresh fruit and vegetables are incredibly fresh, diverse and cheap.
I have no intention into getting into the geo-politics of the region but I will say that not all Israeli’s are as happy with their government, their defence force and how the on-going situations is as is convenient to believe. It’s incredibly like South Africa in this regard, where there are as many sentiments as there are groupings… certain very religious Jewish communities don’t even recognise the state of Israel, let alone condone any fighting.
The result is that it’s an intriguing, thought provoking and sometimes uncomfortable place to visit. As is often the case, the hidden agendas of external powers have contributed massively to the situation that now the people on the ground are expected to just deal with.
It has been amazing to visit Jerusalem, Haifa, Accra (Akko) and a host of smaller towns so far. I am looking forward to the Dead Sea next week as well as Tel Aviv before flying back to Amsterdam. I am very glad to have had the chance to walk the streets of a place that is either rigorously defended or vilified depending on who you talk to. The truth seems way more grey than either position. And aint that always he truth?