Remember that South African girl that went to Israel to find herself. With no plan and a tent on her back. She hiked around the sea of Galilee, slept on either side of the Jordan river. Hiked in the desert.
I hardly remember her.
It feels like a different lifetime.
The adventure, the blisters on my feet, the depression, the laughs, the trees and the smells. It all seems like a lifetime ago.
I was so lost and confused I thought – but I was just me all along. I never lost myself. I just discovered new fragments of myself. I just learned and I suffered and I cried in ways I didn’t imagine possible. Not crying tears, but literally crying in my soul.
But I left all the horrors there.
My last night in the desert – I left all that horror and that pain and fear in the Rhamakesh crater at Mitzpe Ramon. I left it all behind.
Last night A and I went to watch the jungle book and it was incredible. As ridiculous as this may sound, I found myself wishing I was Mogli. It brought back so many memories of Israel. My tent, my boots, running out of water, climbing mountains and getting sunburnt.
I miss the nature and the wild and the freedom.
photo – blister plant, Ramon Maktesh, Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Last time I catch the bus in Israel.
I catch the Metropoline bus from Mitzpe Ramon to Beersheva and I just stare out the window. I honestly cannot believe that I fly him today after two months of travelling this across this magical country. This country that will forever hold a piece of my heart. I stare out the window at the endless landscape of desert mountains. The desert doesn’t always look the same, the richness is so alive, the scenery changes with almost every turn. From a clear blue sky contrasting with red sandy mountains and smooth rocky cliffs, the closer we get to Beersheva the greener it becomes and the sans are lighter shades of taupes and browns. These montains that hold some of my tears and my screams that I scream as I got to the top of a difficult climb.
I’m just in time to catch the train so I at least don’t have to wait for a long time in the train station. The trains are so spacious in Israel, which helps with all my luggage. I’ve had to sell half my belongings just to fit all the gifts in that I bought for everyone.
I arrive at the airport and before the luggage drop off and being issued my ticket I get asked a million questions. In typical Israeli fashion, each person gets asked a string of questions and my heart bleeds for the poor Canadian girl to my right who has spent about 15minutes being questioned and all I keep thinking to myself is ‘please let me get someone else for the questioning, please don’t let me be questioned by the woman who is harassing the poor Canadian girl’.
And luckily I wasn’t, but I was still questioned and my god did I try to be charming. The questions are as follows:
‘Where in Israel did you travel?’
‘Are you Jewish?’ – I lied and said my grandmother is Jewish, yes ok, I lied in the holy land.
‘Can you speak hebrew?’
‘Can you read or write Hebrew?’
‘Why were you in Turkey?’
‘Where did you stay in Turkey? Do you have family and friends there?’
‘Is there someone we can contact in Israel to prove you were with them?’
‘Did anyone give you any gifts? Are you sure?’
And so on and so on…
Eventually made it through…
Tomorrow is my last day in Israel. I fly to instanbul in the afternoon and then back home and I’ll arrive home on Monday at 11:30
I did it.
A backpack and a tent and no plan. I hiked around the Sea of Galilee and slept in my tent next to the Jordan river. I managed to get a volunteering job when I ran out of money. Sold my tent and a lot of my belongings to pay for bus tickets to explore the country a little more.
I did it.
I wanted to go home earlier. I didn’t want to stay for the two full months. I was all alone and I knew no one. No amount of adventure could replace the love I felt back home. I was tired of living outside of my comfort zone. There were so many days where I wasn’t sure where I was going to sleep or where I was going to fill my water bottle. It was tough. There were days where I lay on the grass trying to convince myself that it was not that bad. Moments where walking to the zavitan waterfall and falling asleep next to it with a bunch of medication didn’t seem like the worst idea. Where I had to just sit and hold the fear and depression and anxiety and let it pass.
I did it.
I met people that have changed my life forever. Seen the most beautiful sights. Walked roads and hiked up mountains and I have so many blisters that my feet will never look the same, if I went for a pedicure, I would get chased away.
But I did it.
There were times where I didn’t think I could do this alone. After my marriage I felt so small- like I would never be able to do anything alone. After being told I was a child, that I was self absorbed and not intellectually stimulating. I lost all confidence and I honestly felt that I was always going to be the little girl that I was made out to be. That my eating disorder would always control me and that I was weak and I had no willpower. That I would always need help and I would never be able to survive alone because I was too fragile. Because I looked like prey. ‘You have the voice of a little girl and you nice to everyone, you can’t go camping alone in Israel with no plan’ they said.
Well I did it.
I hitchhiked with strangers who didn’t speak my language, but with smiles and hand signals we managed to understand one another. Standing on the side of the road counting on the help of a stranger to get me from A to B. I will admit that I pointed the middle finger to every car that didn’t stop for me sadly. But I’m grateful to them either way.
I did it.
I connected with strangers and learnt that we are all just winging it. No matter where we are from, we all struggle and we all love and we all have a broken heart and a broken dream. But we all have hope and we all in this thing that we call ‘life’ and we’re all in it together.
So we did it.
With courage and resilience I made it through and it’s with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to Israel and goodbye to this chapter of my life.
We did it.
With my family and friends and every person that I met on this journey. It would never have been possible without all these incredible souls. I would have given up. But because of you all, I didn’t.
We did it!
I wonder if I will spend less money on clothes and make up and hair and so on when I get home? Or will I slip back into my old ways? Because honestly I have already planned what I am going back to wear to dinner with A the first night I am back home haha
So I have learned that I can live with little luxury, eat peanut butter sandwiches and oats everyday and never drink nice wine. I can wash my hair once every two weeks and not use a hair dryer and I don’t need make up. I don’t need so much clothing and I don’t need to paint my nails.
I want to though.
I actually want to and I actually like it. But I guess I have learned that I don’t need it.
I have learned to accept myself the way I am.
It’s a constant struggle every day. Trying to love what I see the mirror. Not covering up any flaws with make up, not wearing clothing that hides my body or that makes me look prettier. Not doing my hair. Just being me. Completely untouched.
Oh my fucking word.
The desert is not your friend.
It’s incredible. Too beautiful for words. But hiking here isn’t a joke.
‘Just don’t come back up the green trail’ they said.
But noooooo. Danielle thinks she’s tough. She thinks she can conquer any mountain.
So I hiked back up the green trail and my cheeks have never been so red.
So today is my first shift and it’s the day shift. My new boss and the staff here at the hostel are incredibly anal and ocd. Like oh my god. I thought I had obsessive compulsive issues but this is a whole new league.
Everything needs to be done in a certain order, you cannot show a guest the kitchen before showing them the wifi password. Like it’s just not done. It’s like a cardinal sin if you mess up the order.
The people are really lovely and nice but they speak in monotone and I feel like a firecracker because I somewhat speak a lot and I get excited over everything. So I feel like I need to tone down my personality every 5 seconds.
Anyway because of this, people are watching me constantly. So I feel like I have to be perfect so my anxiety levels are through the roof.
So b/p four times today. Every time I was left alone, bulimia and I hung out big time!
So this evening I am going to bed early as I have a pounding headache and I am as bloated as fuck.
And surprise – I still feel uncomfortable and anxious about this place.
I spent most of my day binging and purging on cornflakes – I mean seriously.
I’m sad and nervous and anxious.
On Friday I’m off to the desert for my last two weeks. I am so sad to leave the Golan. I hardly leave the hostel because it’s as if I am trying to soak up all the energy and memories and love from the walls so that I never forget this place.
The friends I have made have become like my family.
I don’t know if I will ever see them again?
That’s the most challenging part. We become so close. For a month we are best friends and we do everything together. We are open and we speak freely with each other and we become so comfortable. As if we have known each other forever.
In one good bye.
You could be saying good bye forever.
Today I went to Rosh Hanikra and Akko, and it was absolutely magnificent.
The crystal clear water, the sounds of the waves on the grottos rocks and the chirping of the fruit bats hiding.
These moments when my heart and my soul are smiling, these are the moments that I wish I could freeze these moments. Where all the anxiety calms and the intrusive thoughts are silent.
The couple that owns the hostel have become my best friends and I am so sad to be leaving them and to leave the Golan. The Golan has been my home for almost 4 weeks and I have had the most incredible experience here. If anyone is ever in Israel, it is an absolute must to visit Alon and Milou at Golan Garden Hostel
No matter how much everyone here is guilt tripping me and begging me to stay. I have to move on and keep exploring.
I received an email today and a hostel in Mitzpe Ramon has agreed to have me as a volunteer for two weeks. Ironically Alon and Milou have put a good word in for me, because usually they only accept volunteers for a month, but they pulled strings and I am going for two weeks.
So this is my last week of the Golan, exploring and hiking and making the most of every second! Then off to the Greenbackpackers.