Monday, May 31, 2010

we're here!

Although the arrivals were staggered, we all arrived safe and sound. My trip started on Thursday May 27 in Cairo where I took the bus to Taba, a border town in Sinai. I then crossed through the border by foot in Eilat. The Israelis must have really liked me since they held me there for 3 1/2 hours. Once I got through the border I took another bus from Eilat to Jerusalem. The drive was stunning because of the changing landscape. I love the desert and think it is a magical place. It was amazing to drive through the Negev and then see it slowly become more green as we neared Jerusalem.
It took a total of 16 hours of travel to get to the hotel and I was very excited to take a shower and not be in a moving vehicle anymore. After I settled in I found three other people from the program in the hotel who I wandered around the Old City with the following day. About 10 minutes after stepping out of the hotel we came across a scuffle in the street where a man allegedly tried to take the gun of an IDF solider. It was a very real welcome.
The first official day of the program was sensory overload where we saw the separation wall, as well as the temple mount and drove around greater Jerusalem with two different tour guides. I am still processing my emotions and thoughts from it all.
Being here is exciting and heavy. The information is overwhelming, especially since I felt that I had a good grasp on the conflict, but seeing is something else entirely. I also realize that I have not seen anything yet.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Arrival in Jerusalem

This is going to be a very short post just to share my initial thoughts and start my blogging experience. After some sleep, I will post a more in depth entry blog.

The only place in the Middle East that I had been to before my arrival in Israel today was Egypt. Just driving around in the taxi from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and seeing the people in the streets and what their homes looked like is very different to me. I am in awe of Jerusalem and its history, the little I´ve seen is beautiful and I cannot wait to experience more. I know this program will fly by so fast and I can only hope to absorb as much as possible and use this amazing experience in my future endeavors.