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.
I had to go to Israel because I had to do it for me. The woman as well as the little girl inside me needed to go. I needed to get away from the hurt and the pain that was haunting me. I needed to be alone and to fend for myself and fight for myself and be wild and free. I needed to make a new identity and I needed to be free to be who ever the hell I wanted to be and I had to start again.
Ironically who I needed to be was me, I didn’t even change and I didn’t even try to start over. Through the mountains and the waterfalls and the desert it was still me. It was still Danielle with her past and her fears and her dreams and I didn’t pretend to be anyone else.
I had to go because I had to find myself.
Little did I know that I had been with myself all this time. I knew and I know who I am. Maybe tiny fragments got lost and pieces fell away and there were new facets to my being that were growing. But I was still myself during it all.
That is why I had to go. Because I would never have learned that it had been me all along.
I would never have realised that I was in fact the strong woman that left an abusive marriage and I would never have recognised the compassion and the hope I have for people. Things like love and family wouldn’t have become my everything, the need to be a mother would never have made itself so apparent had I not run far far away from it all. My relationships have been strengthened and I feel the beauty of nature on my skin every day now and the sparkles in animals eyes.
There is a fire burning in my heart now. A fire so strong that it will never be put out. Perhaps that is why I had to be stripped bare and thrown into the wild. Perhaps I needed to learn my own strength. Only once I was forced to question every corner of my existence, my morals and my choices, and only when I was threatened with unbearable pain and abandonment would my true fire start to burn.
Perhaps that is why it all happened and that is why I had to leave the city that I was born in and I had to run far away and grow on my own.
Now its all in the past and theres a fire burning in my heart and my soul. Now all that remains are those memories that I left on the top of a mountain in the Golan Heights in Israel while looking over the beautiful landscapes of Syria. Thats where I left it all, in the calm of the valleys when hiking along the Jordan river.
All there is left to do now is freely be myself no matter how much that girl was judged and tortured, in the end, she is all I have.
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
Israel feels like a lifetime ago
Home is where the heart is.
So many mixed emotions. A picked me up at the airport and it was lovely, we hugged and kissed and he kept grabbing my ass – because it is massive.
It feel lovely to be back home, the accent, the people, the friendliness, the fact that everything is so incredibly cheap compared to Israel. No one walking around with an army uniform and a gun. And everyone speaks english and I can actually read the alphabet!
A’s mom cooked an amazing welcome home lunch for which was so incredibly sweet. It was homely being back in their home again. I ate so much at lunch because, it was so delicious, so amazing to eat something other than pita and hummus and falafel and my staple diet of peanut butter sandwiches.
I slept most of the afternoon in A’s arms because I was exhausted from the flight and we made love and watched movies in bed for hours. It was lovely.
I will admit, that it is strange being back home with him, it is amazing, but it is strange, as if we need to get used to each other again and get comfortable again.
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 went to visit a friend at her kibbutz. We all had a great time drinking a little and smoking a little.
I met this guy D and his friend E and we hung out.
They both 22 and fresh out of the army and working at a kibbutz for 6 months. I really hit it off with them, really nice guys.
From the start it was clear that D and I were interested in each other and we really connected and I landed up spending the night. He was so sweet, saying how it felt so good to be wanted, how he isn’t usually the guy that gets the girl – which I found strange because he is gorgeous and super sweet. We made love and it was really amazing, innocent and sweet and there were times when he said ‘this is new’ which was sweet. When we woke up in the morning it was as if he completely warmed up to me and felt comfortable and he came out of his shell and took control and it was hot and rough and great.
He went to work in the morning, I slept late and when I woke up I hung out with E. We chatted and we really connected and we flirted. He kept touching my leg, I purposely lay on my stomach when we were laying outside chatting so that he could look at the curves of my back and he lay his head on my calves and then my thighs. ‘Are you movin up and next thing you’ll be lying on my bum?’ I asked. And he said that was his plan. He picked me up and carried me to his room and we had sex and half way through it – I just stopped him and said I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make love to his best friend and hours later with him right next door.
I left. He walked me out and we hugged and kissed.
On a different day I would have loved to be with him. He made me feel vulnerable. But on the same day as his best friend. I couldn’t do it.
So my fellow volunteer and I went to the dead sea today. He is from Germany and is 18 years old – how adorable 🙂
We had so much fun, it’s so light an carefree hanging out with him. We hitched there and it took us three hours, ate falafel and swam and for two hours and took a bus back for another 3 hours. Busy busy day.
The dead sea is madness. You know that you are going to float, but my god do you float – it is a complete mindfuck.
Today was epic.
I think I got heatstroke and I am so tired wow.