Thursday, March 29, 2012

3/29/12: If Only Money And Men Were Not Important...

In the one month since I have been back in the Middle East I have succeeded in saying goodbye to the life I knew growing up in California and starting anew in the land of Israel. Though the process of my citizenship is now complete, for the most part, the excitement is still, everyday, overwhelming. However, because much of the bureaucratic nonsense is now dealt with, and some of my fears and anxieties have and are subsiding, another aspect of this monumental journey I have embarked upon needs to be attended to, though I am finding that attending to it is wracked with hardships, obstacles, and difficulties.

A main reason I decided to move abroad (before deciding to remain abroad for good) was to ensure an ability to travel and see the world; at least a great deal of this side of the world (Middle East, Europe, parts of Asia, etc.) Though, during the bustle of my Aliyah, my travel bug was in many ways subdued, it has regained such a strength it's almost unbelievable. On the eve of the Passover holidays, with students constantly discussing their various travel plans, I have found myself both excited and overwhelmed at the many restrictions I face when choosing where to travel.

Problem #1: MONEY

Did you know it costs almost as much to fly round trip to Morocco as it does California??? This poses a huge problem when deciding where to go, and it limits many of the places I am dying to see due to the fact that I'm a poor, starving student who can't work in Israel until my Hebrew is better... SUCKS... the whole monetary situation really puts a damper in the mood when planning a trip. Luckily there are wonderful places that won't completely break the bank to see, but is it enough? Not for me. I have a very extensive list of places that I will not sacrifice going to whether for monetary reasons, personal reasons, etc. The lists is as follows:

Egypt (Cairo, Alexandria)
Lebanon (Beirut)
Syria (Damascus)
Morocco (Fez, Marrakech, Casablanca)
France (Paris, Nice)
England (London)
India (Mumbai, Amritsar, Delhi)
Greece (Athens, Mykonos)

Now these are just all the places I HAVE to visit. The list is almost endless in terms of places I want to see. If you take wants and not absolute necessities into consideration my list is open to many parts of Africa including Kenya and south Africa, Asia including China and Japan, and other places in Europe such as Spain, Amsterdam, Switzerland, etc.

This brings me to problem #2: I'm now Israeli... My US passport is filled to the brim with Israeli stamps and visas... And I want to go to Lebanon and Syria...

Unfortunately harsh restrictions exist to those people who are affiliated with Israel in terms of greater travel throughout the Middle East. Luckily there are some solutions although they take a lot of time, money, and emotional hassle. A second US passport can be obtained for those of us who want to go to places like Lebanon or Syria, and who have "Israel" all over our permanent passports, however the possible problems I will run into on both the Israeli side (leaving Israel and not using my Israeli passport) and the Arab side (should it be found out I'm an Israeli citizen) are a bit daunting. However, as much as I am in love with the fact that I am now legally Israeli, I still think of myself as an Arab and will not give up seeing these places! I'm transethnic, what can I say :-). Surprisingly in all of this I am the least worried by the fact that I'm Jewish... As Jewish as I am I am just as good at playing a very convincing Arab Christian or even Muslim if it came down to the need to do so for safety reasons.

Problem number #3: MEN (and or large groups/dependency on others)

The men issue is a problem in more than one way, which kills an independent woman such as myself (sorry for the feminist tone).  First of all, as a female, it is very hard for me to travel alone to many of the places I want to visit simply because it is not safe for a lone female. I would be very easy prey in any of the Middle Eastern countries, or even Europe, if I were by myself, which is so sad because that means my travel plans ultimately depend upon if a man or a large group of people can go with me, and there is nothing I hate more than feeling that my happiness, or wants and desires, depend on others. There are some days I just want to leave and go to Egypt and not have to plan based on other people's schedules. I have, however, made a deal with myself that if my girlfriend can't accompany me on a trip during Pesach (Passover) vacation I would put my fears aside and travel on my own. Sure I will be doing most of my exploring during the day and making sure I am inside at night, but I will not give up an opportunity to take advantage of an almost two week vacation! The plan is to go to Turkey (cost effective), but if I am on my own I think a quiet few days in Greece might be the ticket :-) I will say this, I love being a woman more than anything, and wouldn't trade places with a man for anything, however, I am quite envious that, for the most part, they can travel alone in relative safety...  A fact that is not so true for my sex. My roommate is going to Italy on his own like it is nothing... If only it were that easy for me!

Anyways, now that I have adequately vented, I will say that I am extremely excited to begin my travel experiences, even if the planning stages are more a hassle than a pleasure. Turkey or Greece will be a perfect destination for a quick 5 day vacation, and it will give me a chance to broaden my experiences outside of the Arab Middle East that I love so much :-). I keep telling myself that at least Turkey is a Muslim country so there are bound to be a few Arabic speakers there!

Plans will be finalized tonight so by tomorrow I will know exactly where I am going and for how long! The rest of this week will be spent working on my paper and getting ready for Pesach to being next Friday night. I have a few personal things to take care of during the time between the end of classes and my trip, and I am very excited to finally have time to attend to them.

Stay tuned for more frequent updates on the upcoming holiday, travels, life, and so on! Exciting things ahead <3

Yom Tov Chaverim,
Jordana Simone

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