I was so excited to be going to Israel, as it was going to be my first time visiting a foreign country. Excited about visiting a place I’d heard about all of my life, I still had pre-conceived notions of what Israel would be like. The anticipation grew as my departure date drew nearer.
The moment arrived – I was flying out of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor to New York’s JFK. At JFK, as we were about to board the plane, our carry ons had to go through another scanner. An employee shouted at me to throw my water away, and rudely they rushed us through the line barking orders at us. I became worried and apprehensive that perhaps this was a sign of things to come. After an 11 hour flight we landed in Tel Aviv. Everything was peaceful as we walked through quiet hallways. We passed quickly through Customs, and soon found ourselves outside – the air balmy and fragrant.
Palm trees waved in the gentle breeze as we drove toward Jaffa to sightsee before driving north toward Caesarea where we would be spending the night. We saw the beautiful Mediterranean for the first time. That night as we walked into our five star hotel in Caesarea, we were greeted with juice, cookies, and our room keys. We walked into an elegant room where fragrant breezes were blowing in through open French doors. The breeze brought with it smells of the ocean and grilled meat cooking outside on the patio. Delicious meats, cheeses, fish, desserts, and other novelties were laid out before us. As in a dream we piled food on our plates.
I’ll always remember that night with the fragrant ocean breezes, and the tantalizing smell of grilled meat. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The rest of the trip was just as wonderful. Each day greeted us with the most spectacular places. The Israeli people are so pleasant, intelligent and kind. I fell in love with them, and will never forget them.
I’ll never forget walking through a tunnel off the Temple Mount greeted by a group of Israeli soldiers at the ready, eyes sparkling but alert, faces smiling, as we trailed passed them. We felt their strength and courage. They knew we were up there, and they were there to protect us at a moment’s notice.
Israel is a 1st world nation with great infrastructure, paved highways, beautiful national parks, and great museums. I learned that what I thought Israel was like was nothing compared to what I discovered it truly is. I learned how wonderful and beautiful it is.
What I wish I had known before I went to Israel is to have known that it is a 1st world country. I was prepared for bad food – I packed a bottle of pepto bismo. What I discovered instead was a 1st world nation with great food. I long to go back to Israel every day. I left my heart in Israel.