It was absolutely amazing, but I have to say there were a few things that would have been helpful to know ahead of time.
So I have composed another masterpiece of things I wish I had known before traveling to Israel, and things that an American woman (or man? Maybe?) might want to know ahead of time.
1. If you go in the Dead Sea, prepare for your genitals to burn...a lot.
33.7% salinity meant something in between "who effing cares" and "pretty salty" before I went to the Dead Sea. Today, I stand before you a woman whose privates have been scorned by this body of water.
Sure, I'm smiling on the outside, but I'm slowly being eaten alive by salt under my bathing suit.
I'm not talking, "Oh, that is slightly uncomfortable... Maybe I can stay in for another hour, but then I'll have to get out." I'm talking "HOLY SHIT MY CROTCH IS ON FIRE AND I'M GONNA DIE." It starts subtly. You're not too sure what's going on down there. In fact you're probably not even 100% that something is going on at all for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Before long, the stinging slowly increases and pretty soon it's basically a matter of life and death. A matter of simple, Darwinian self preservation. And the future preservation of any children you might have been planning on having ever in your life. You have to get out immediately. Because you're absolutely certain that you're being cleansed with hellfire against your will.
Which brings us to the awkwardness of washing out....things....in front of everyone. Because there's no other way to do it. The only body of water that you would normally turn to in order to clean yourself sneakily is the thing that almost killed you. So you go rinse off in the shower of shame, with everyone else.
2. Be prepared for your insides to go apeshit.
There are 2 way in which this could happen:
(1.) Your body could react poorly to the shit ton of falafel and schawarma you are consuming and you could be stuck in the bathroom permanently, OR..
(2.) Your body could react poorly to the shit ton of falafel and schawarma you are consuming and you probably won't be able to shit for 2 weeks. Either way, it totally blows. I know you all are dying to know, so I will divulge that I had the latter problem.
Why these problems, you ask? BECAUSE PEOPLE NEED CHEESE DAMMIT.
I could write a separate blog on how many problems I have with Kosher food as it is, but the absolute WORST part is that during meals you are supposed to CHOOSE whether you eat meat OR cheese for the meal??? FUCK. THAT.
Nothing was really happening in this picture, but I think our facial expressions pretty much sum up the way a lot of us felt at some point on the trip. Because our insides were dying.
3. You're hair is going to look like shit.
I'm actually pretty impressed by how my hair held up, but let me tell you it was not easy. The humidity and wind are a wonderful recipe for disaster as far as your hair will be concerned.
Oh, and don't bother bringing a flat iron or hairdryer from America, because your shit will be shorted out within minutes even if you brought a converter and you will then need to replace said shit upon your return to America.
Luckily my awesome friend lent me a European flat iron which worked just splendidly. But it was a pain in the ass.
So I say, embrace it. Embrace your inner Jew fros and just go with it. Don't fight it. I fought it, and arguably I won, but was it worth it?
Who's to say.
Although I did get some pretty awesome pictures.
4. Everything closes on Friday nights.
W. T. F.
You just have to deal. Plan ahead and buy some alcohol, or go to one of the cities that has a few little bars still open. Or don't drink? I guess is an option?
I have to say that this trip made me ask myself the question, "Ok, now really, am I an alcoholic??!?"
On the first Friday night when they told us everything was closed, I think half our group (myself included) had a miniature panic attack.
"Wait so like.....ALL THE BARS??? AND STORES???" Yes, pretty much all the bars and stores are closed. Especially when you are staying in a place in the middle of nowhere. The reason is so the Jews can go spend time reflecting about being Jewish. Or something.
Thank GOD the people running the place decided to open their in-house bar so we could drink. Because I'm just saying, vacation with no alcohol? No thanks.
5. There are cats....EVERYWHERE.
As a self proclaimed cat lover, this was pretty epic for me.
When I commented on the first stray cat I saw, someone explained to me that there is an actual cat epidemic in Israel.
And if that's not incredible enough on it's own, the best part of this was discovering why there is a cat epidemic.
There is a cat epidemic in Israel because a while ago, there was a rat epidemic.
...And so what better way to cure the rat epidemic?
Than to bring in...
This is for realsies, guys. This really happened. So I spent a good amount of time chasing down the cats and petting them. This little kitten bitch wouldn't let me pet it so I chased it around until it had to poo and then I snuck up on it and got a picture.