The wind over the Mediterranean is blowing a curtain in my face as the waves crash while the sea air dries my eyes out. It’s good to be back.
I arrived Friday from Copenhagen just in time for the LGBT Pride Parade in Tel Aviv which I missed when I last left Israel, exactly 4 years and 4 days before. This is where everything changed, or that’s the way I sum up the 9 months I spent studying abroad in my junior year. Israel taught me about life and the world in and out of class. That year abroad was the first time I thought about traveling for a long time and it’s the inspiration for this trip Around the World in 365 (+/-) Days.
I had been running Hebrew phrases through my head in the days before to try to bring back some of the Ulpan lessons but with limited success. Once I landed I started pick up a word a minute, dusting off the mental Hebrew archives. My proudest moment was the day when two strangers asked me questions, one for directions and one about food, and I both understood and responded in Hebrew without hesitating. One small step for Kate’s Hebrew, one large step towards being Israeli for 2 weeks.
I was shocked with how familiar everything felt, accentuated by the last 3 months of visiting new and unfamiliar places. Relaxing on beautiful sandy beaches with friends and hummus and a few jellyfish. Markets with the freshest produce with a little haggling thrown in. Bakeries and smells that bring me back to the times when I was 20 years young and trying to find the cheapest, biggest tub of hummus and the best pita. The best part has been meeting friends from nearly 5 years ago and after catching up on the major life events, we keep chatting like no time passed. It feels more like a homecoming than just a visit.
Not everything is the same. There’s a tunnel under Haifa, a new bus line, a huge stadium, different places to salsa dance. Bus tickets are more expensive and most of my friends live in Tel Aviv rather than Haifa. Israel is a living, vibrant country so I’m not surprised that things have changed, I’ve changed too.
More than a quarter of my trip has passed like a cheetah in a maze, speeding along but unclear to what end I am headed. Anything could happen. No earth shattering revelations but I’m not waiting for the light to go on over my head or for inspiration to strike. I am continually figuring out what I want to do next so the answer changes by the moment. Will I go back to the USA? Probably. Will I stop traveling? Not if I have anything to say about it. Where is home then? Wherever my backpack is.
If you’re curious about my adventures 4 years ago, check them out here.