Having returned from Israel some days ago, I must commence by asserting that there is no such thing as Israel, but instead there are many ‘Israels’. Even though I am usually a fast and clear-headed writer, I have now strived for several days to come to terms with myself as to what this minuscule Middle-Eastern country represents and what it means to me, yet every time my mind wonders into the thrills of our trip, images spring about our travel that stir changing emotions within me.
No party in the bus that morning
Sometimes, Israel are glass skyscrapers overlooking the Mediterranean. Others, Israel are the humble Kibbutz houses that look into the depths of the Sea of Galilee, or the fulfilling peace that surrounds the Jezreel Winery where we enjoyed such a pleasant lunch surrounded by vineyards. There are occasions when I cite Israel in class, as an example of cutting-edge innovation and state-of-the-art premises, but no more than those in which I praise how it stands for tradition and boasts a millenary heritage that saw the birth of several civilisations. Israel is a start-up haven where avant-garde technology that changes how we live and interact is developed as much as it is an enlightening meeting point for people from all origins to together and push their dreams and hopes into the deep cracks of an ancient wall, scribbled down in wrapped-up papers.
Hence, to come to terms with myself I have reached the conclusion that I cannot reach a conclusion: I would not be able to describe Israel in a few words beyond acknowledging that the exuberant diversity of its people, its history and its culture far exceed my grasp.
Israel will be whatever the traveller wants it to be.
My peers and I wanted to live an unforgettable adventure and that is what we got! We relished with the mesmerising tastes and smells of the Mahane Yehuda shuk in Jerusalem and dug our feet deep in the sand at midnight to enjoy a Goldstar beer –the local pride- by the sea in Tel Aviv. With Katia’s speakers and our driver Igor’s amusing light setting we turned our Mercedes Sprinter van into the true party-bus, which was the perfect stage for our cheerful and hilarious stunts, when not a hostel-on-wheels where to rest after a busy time exploring the Tel Aviv nightlife. In hindsight, I feel blessed not only to have lived this jaw-dropping experience, but to have shared it with 11 wonderful friends, our dearest co-ordinator Rie and are tireless guide Oren. Julian, Charlie, Pedro, Ben, Ustyna, Katia, Stijn, Adrián, Belén, Sergi and Isa were the best group I could have possibly dreamt of travelling with: together they formed a collection of thoughtful, joyful, amusing and warm-hearted individuals that turned an interesting academic trip into a thrilling adventure from beginning to end. As our MiM experience comes to an end in the forthcoming weeks, our paths will divert and we will scatter across countries and continents, but I have no doubt that we will come together every few months to remember the good old days when we explored Israel’s multi-faced reality.
Rie, Pedro, Adrián, Sergi, Ustyna, Charlie, Stijn, Ben, Katia, Isa, Belén, Julian and I at the Google Campus, Tel Aviv