Monday, November 14, 2011

Adventures in Tel Aviv

While I absolutely love living in Palestine, there are times when I think that my heart is just going to break from all of the pain and devastation here. The weekends are my prime time to mentally escape, to detox from my emotionally devastating weeks. Sometimes I do this by sleeping all day. Sometimes I watch mindless American TV shows for hours on end. Sometimes I just sit and breathe. None of these have been working too well for me lately, and this last week I felt like I was at a breaking point.

I haven't had a completely-break-down-and-sob-for-eight-hours episode yet, and while I know that it's coming eventually, I'd like to postpone it for as long as possible. Being here is devastating. It's hard. Most times I step outside my house and just feel this weight on my heart. It's difficult to live with. So often, I feel like I'm barely holding my head above this pool of emotions, and one tiny thing is all that it will take to push me under.

This past week was an especially difficult one. Working with a humanitarian organization means that I have the opportunity to meet incredible people, but it also means that I sometimes see the absolute worst side of this occupation - the ways in which it devastates families and ruins lives. Day in and day out, I deal with the human component, and it's often tragic.

Last week, I was invited to go to Tel Aviv with two other international volunteers, and I debated back and forth for a while. I mean, I really wanted to go, but it didn't seem fair that when I got overwhelmed with the situation here in Palestine, I could just leave. None of the people that I live or work with have that option.

After talking about it, a friend reminded me that I don't have the same support network here as the average Palestinian. I don't have deep family roots, and that is a huge part of how people endure life here. Plus, I am not only trying to emotionally deal with the occupation and it's effects on me (and it's much deeper effects on the people around me), but I also have the added stress of living in a completely foreign culture and trying to speak a completely new language. While it still felt like a bit of a cop out, I decided to take a mini-vacation to Tel Aviv.

Since I went on an adventure, I decided to document it for you guys, so that you could feel like you took a mini-vacation too! In the West Bank, I don't take many pictures. I live there, so walking around with my camera out like a tourist is super weird and embarrassing. Luckily though, I had no such qualms about being a mega-tourist in Tel Aviv, where no one knew me and I'd never see anyone again. Therefore, I have plenty of pictures to share!


When we left the West Bank, it was around 50 degrees, but when the bus doors opened in Tel Aviv, this incredibly glorious 75 degree air swept in! I almost died of happiness. We dropped our things off at the guesthouse where we were staying, and then we visited the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Totally awesome. I highly recommend it.

Next, we hit the BEACH! We started out walking down the majorly huge and commercial Tel Aviv boardwalk, but eventually it turns into the old port town of Jaffa (you know, where Jonah got swallowed by the whale).

Although I was dressed for winter,
 I was ecstatic to have been magically transported to this summer-time wonderland!
Tel Aviv at Sunset
Fishing boats in Jaffa's port.
Old Town Jaffa
WHALE fountain!
Tribute to the whole Jonah thing.
Fishermen on the Wharf in Jaffa

Sunset in Jaffa

When we got to the end of the Jaffa port, we started walking around Old Town Jaffa, which is more inland. By that time it was dusk, and I took some pictures of the buildings.

The next day, we decided to go back to the beach. Palestine is land locked and water is scarce, so being at the beach feels like heaven.

Clock Tower in Old Town Jaffa 

There were so many of these tiny fishing boats dotting the water. It was basically the most beautiful thing ever.

Me and my two darling mamas for the weekend.
Souher (next to me) is Egyptian, but has lived in Canada for the last 45 years. She is at the Bethlehem Bible College teaching for a year, and has taken many of her students under her wing. She is so incredibly sweet and caring, and she also speaks Arabic fluently which means that she can connect with people much more easily than most other Western volunteers.

Mary (across the table) is from England. She and her husband run the BBC Guest House. They came to Palestine after living in India for five years. They're on their second year here, and will be leaving to return to England permanently in March. Mary is adorable and says things like "jolly good" and "oh bugger!" and "right-o" that make me giggle.

My last view of the ocean before heading back home.
After an incredible weekend in the sunshine, I felt refreshed and renewed and ready to get back to work in the West Bank. Having two days without soldiers everywhere, and without having to look at that heartbreaking Wall had left me feeling almost giddy. We caught the bus back to the checkpoint, and of course, this is the beautiful sight that greets me when I walk back into the West Bank: fires in the refugee camp.

My vacation is officially over.

Welcome Home.


  1. great pics M. cool to see Tel Aviv through your eyes. and im glad someone was wise enough to convince you to take a vacay. its often when we fight it that we need it the most! thinking of you lots...

  2. Those pics are beautiful! I'm glad you were able to get away for a bit. And I hope you find the strength to keep dealing with the CRAP going on there.