Eight passport stamps later and I’m back in Rabat!Rabat, Spring 2012

I’m currently back at home enjoying my last evening of break before the last 7 weeks begin, although I’m so sad to see this break come to a close as Israel was one of the most amazing countries and seeing my parents was a wonderful treat. After living in a predominately Muslim country for 2 months, watching Palm Sunday & Easter celebrations in Spain and Passover in Israel was so cool. I feel incredibly lucky to have gotten the chance to have that well-rounded of a cultural and religious experience. The contrast between Israel and Morocco was the most interesting to me though, due to the large animosity held between the Muslim and Jewish communities for the Israel/Palestine debate. The tension couldn’t have been more prevalent for me then when I was going through Israeli security with a Moroccan stamp on my passport. What would have typically been a 20 minute ordeal turned into 2 hours as I was questioned by 3 officers and then 2 supervisors, had my bags checked and entirely dumped out two times, got escorted by armed officers to get my boarding pass and then patted down in a separate room for 20 minutes. And this was just with a Moroccan stamp! For a country with such political hardship though, the people were incredibly friendly. My family & I stayed with my mom’s childhood best friend from Ireland who had moved to Israel. Together we saw numerous historical/religious sites like, the Wailing Wall, the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized, old Biblical cities like Jerusalem & Nazareth (which are now sprawling cities complete with Home Depots), climbed Mt. Sodom from the tales of Sodom & Gomorrah, swam/floated in the Dead Sea and then you know… saw The Hunger Games (don’t laugh, it’s not out in Morocco and I was desperate). It’s so fascinating to me that the history behind the people and places of Biblical tales I learned as a kid are a reality in this country and not only that but Israel’s tiny size means that wherever I was, I was no more than 3 hours from the Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian and Saudi Arabian borders – places Westerners today rarely visit. On top of everything, my experience having a traditional Passover dinner with a big group of friends was the best. Although with the guests at the table being a mix of Israeli, Irish, English & American, some Jewish, some not, and some who spoke Hebrew and some who didn’t… I guess it wasn’t the most traditional after all. It was however, hilarious, and ranked up there as one of the funniest nights of my whole semester. Songs were sung in a mess of 3 languages at once, more than the traditional 4 glasses of wine were had and there was more laughter than coherent speech at how ridiculous the whole scenario was. An experience of a lifetime and all I can say is תודה (thank you) to everyone I met. Now on to making the most of my last 2 months! [gallery link="file" orderby="ID"]
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3 Comments

  1. Dear Aoife,

    Very well written! I’m glad you had a memorable and interesting stay in Israel.
    The photos are beautiful.
    By the way, the ancient Nabatean city in the Negev is called Mamshit, not Medina.
    The ancient cemetery near Megiddo is called Beit She’arim.
    The Golden Dome behind the wailing wall is simply that, “golden Dome”, not Al-Aksa Mosque which is the grey-silver dome south of the Golden Dome (I’m sure you captured it in other photos).
    I also immensely enjoyed traveling with your family around Israel.
    Hope your next 7 weeks are good and interesting,

    Best regards,
    Ilan

  2. Thanks so much Ilan! I’m sorry for the errors in captions, I was trying my best to remember where each photo was from but I was wishing I had brought brochures of each site to help remember all the places we visited. I had an amazing week and it’s all thanks to you and Phillipa. I hope all is well with you and that our families can visit each other again soon!

  3. Sounds like you had a interesting trip and i love your photos

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