Israel Part 1
As I sit at Newark International airport awaiting my flight to San Francisco, I cannot believe that only 10 days earlier, I was sitting at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel awaiting my return flight to the US.
I have traveled to Israel a number of times and each trip has given me a new storyline. This trip was no exception. You see, Israel is a country very near and dear to my heart. However, our relationship didn’t start off that way. In fact, we had quite a rough start and although today we are pretty much like two peas in a pod, we do have our ups and downs. But then, what healthy relationship doesn’t?
My first trip to the land of “Sabras”, defined as a prickly pear (aka Israelis) was back in 2005 with one of my closest friends from Amsterdam. Neither of us had been before and didn’t know what to expect. On the one hand, it was an incredible trip filled with considerable amounts of sight-seeing. This meant waking early and getting to sleep late (so much for a “vacation”). Our very knowledgeable tour guide filled us with stories of Israel’s historical past as well as its recent present (the years 1967 and 1973 will forever stick in our memories).
However, on the other hand, our relationship…that is, Israel and I, had an extremely difficult start but I would like to consider it a bit of a “hazing” technique. Historically, politically etc., times have been tough for Israel and likely always will be. Getting through passport control is not always easy. It is not something they do for fun or to look “cool”. It is out of necessity. Everyone is interrogated but for some reason, they didn’t like any of my answers nor my friend’s. Ultimately that led to a 3 hour ordeal of strip searches, interrogations and ignoring us entirely. Similar scenarios repeated themselves each time we met with security. They seriously had a problem with our presence. It did make me question whether I ever wanted to return to the country.
However, I did return. Two years later, I decided to give Israel another chance and this time for 7 weeks, considerably longer than the first trip. I am glad I did as it was one of the most incredible and memorable experiences I have ever had. It was on this trip where I met some of my dearest friends to date and it was because of these individuals that my perspective changed. I was introduced to an Israel where friendship was unwavering, generosity was abound, warmth was a given, inclusion was a standard and living life to the fullest was mandatory.
This most recent trip to Israel, my fifth, was a combination trip-one where I was researching work prospects (actually considering living there) and of course, having fun. Because of the work angle, I began viewing Israel very differently and probably a bit more seriously. It wasn’t all fun and games but a lot of due diligence. “Can I work here?” “Would I be happy?” “What would I gain or need to sacrifice?” What I did learn was that the salaries are quite low, the rents in Tel Aviv are quite high and the taxes are also staggering… and the list goes on. Things were not looking so ideal compared to NYC or Dubai (which I also checked out work-wise. See Dubai blog).
To be continued…
To read Part 2, click here.
To see list of places to go, read Israel Part 2 which you can find on the homepage.