It’s all good. Cool. Alright. No worries.
This is Sababa
Sort of Hebrew slang. It is Hebrew slang, actually. At least, this is what I have been told by a number of locals and people that are currently learning Hebrew.
This word – Sababa – has become one of my new favorite words. Why? There are some words that are simple to spell out, and then there are words that take a lot of sounding out and effort. If you’re catchin’ on to what I’m sayin’.
This trip has taught me much about patience, about playing it cool. I thought I was a patient person. I thought I had thick skin. I thought I was equipped and prepared to take on the world. I thought I was a well ‘experienced’ traveler. I know nothing. I cried a little. I was shaken and flipped upside down like an hourglass. It is not easy to travel. I am too young to say it was easier before, but I did grow up moving from here to there and all over the place because I was a military brat. I’d say, it certainly takes more out of a person to try and get around these days. Thanks to terrorism, getting through some airports is like a mouse trying to squeeze through a fingernail-sized crack to get to his cheese. It is quite awful, at times.
You know what? I wasn’t going to elaborate, but I think I will. Why? Because I think it is necessary for multiple reasons. I don’t have to explain myself, I don’t have to justify my transparency. It is in part why I travel. To learn about the good, the bad, the easy, and the challenges. To embrace it all. To understand that worthy experiences, stories worth telling, come from a mix of things. It is worth it. I cannot emphasize that enough.
And before I go on, I must lay something down on the table. Some airports are stricter than others. And they have reason to be. You don’t have to understand. We don’t. Especially if we are merely tourists passing through to learn a few things and snap some photos. However, I think it is crucial to understand that the world is suffering. It has been let down. We can point fingers all we want, saying this country is worse than that one. That we are the best. We are all to blame. We either accept that or we don’t. Some people will get pissed off reading that. Quite frankly, I don’t care. I am not here to argue, I am here to tell you about my experiences about the experiences of those around me.
Before I go on, I want to share some photos. Some photos that remind me of all the beauty, the creativity and imagination, the history and the visions, and simply the authenticity of the people and places and things in this world. You can be negative. As you wish. I will choose to be positive. I will choose to be hopeful. I will choose to be angry, to be upset, but to be realistic. Realistic enough to understand we don’t live in a perfect world. We don’t. We never have. We never will. Before this trip, I had this weird idea that things are only getting worse. That things weren’t so crazy before. I am leaving with an understanding that I have grown older, I have traveled more, and I have learned more.
We cannot live with the convincing idea that we, as a world, were once okay and now things are just mad in a way that they weren’t before. Actually, we have progressed. We might have taken a couple of steps back, but we have moved forward.
This world is learning a new line dance every day, and we just can’t keep up with the steps.
There are times in which I have walked smoothly through security and passport check points. Without question. Without so much as a stare down.
I had to pull my pants down for the first time. No, not in front of everybody. I was taken into a small cubicle, with two ladies, and a curtain was then closed. At the beginning, they only scanned me like they would outside of the cubicle. Then, I was told that I needed to slide my pants down to my knees. Awkward, right?! I had everything searched. My bags were tagged with orange security sticker and taken through a separate machine than what most bags are sent through. I was chosen, and I was escorted from here to there before I was finally given the go to head to my gate. I walked through the airport with these orange security stickers all over me. I was questioned by multiple people. I was going in and coming out of a country that has been to hell and back. I didn’t understand it. Then, I had the opportunity to speak with a few locals and I was humbled. My pride was ripped apart. It was so good.
The questioning. The thorough bag, clothes, and body checks were necessary. It is necessary. Where do we draw the line? Who can say, really? I can’t. I only know that I felt uncomfortable. I felt targeted. I felt as though nobody trusted me, and that I was in some weird way a victim. I was not the victim. I am not the victim. I am also not the villain. Do you get what I am saying? If not, I implore you. Travel. Take your chances. Carry your fear and your vulnerability with you. Be prepared. Oh, right, we have already come to an agreement that we can’t be prepared. We just can’t be. No matter our level of travel experience, everything is changing at a pace we can’t keep up with. By the time we leave one airport, new rules will have been implemented before we arrive at the next one.
It is uncomfortable. Maybe some airports go overboard. Terrorism is more uncomfortable.
Being searched and questioned and searched and questioned some more is like wearing new leather shoes that you eventually break in after a few wears and steps. There is room for flexibility and growth and comfort. Terrorism is like forcing our feet into a shoe that is 4 sizes too small. It breaks us.
You know what helps? Cappuccino. Cappuccino and some kind of sweet. Oh, and beer and pizza. All of those things really do just make things easier. The moment I can inhale a cappuccino and stuff my face with delicious noms, I am all good again. Everything is Sababa. The coffee in Israel – all kinds – has to be my favorite coffee. I did not see a single Starbucks. I didn’t think I could be so happy and overcome by joy by seeing so many local coffee shops and not a single Starbucks. In Beijing, we have at least one every 100 yards. Most of the time, there are 2 or 3 within 100 yards. It saddens me. I am a coffee connoisseur. It’s true. I admit.
You know what my favorite Israeli food is? Not shawarma. Not falafel. My favorite food is *hands down* Sabich. It is stuffed with a hard boiled egg and lettuce and tomatoes and hummus and tahini sauce and amba sauce (a Middle Eastern mango sauce), topped with fried eggplant, and a few other delicious things. All stuffed into a a soft, sometimes baked pita pocket. And then you get a bowl and you can put a number of things to eat in it, for on the side. I really like the Mediterranean Pickles. I am going to miss the food and the coffee.
All over the cities, there are cats. Everywhere. They love to come into the bars and just chill with you. They own the place, really. The sunsets are beautiful. The buildings and streets are a mix of the old and the now. Most of the people are incredibly friendly. I ended my trip in Israel by playing card games with a group of people that consisted of Australians, an Austrian dude, a guy from Boston, and a girl from England. Then, I got food with a guy from Canada. And I may or may not have gotten my nose pierced with one of the volunteer staff members at the hostel.
That last photo, is a story for another time. I ran from a bull. From a bull that cared very much for the cows and calves that surrounded him. Come on, dude. I was just hiking the Jesus Trail. I’m not about to steal your grass or your babies. I might be down to carry a kitten with me as I trek through the woods and roads and over hills, but a cow? Let’s talk about this.
Do not let fear, a lack of experience, or the unknown keep you from seeing the world. From eating the food and drinking the coffees and teas and beers of the world. From meeting people and playing card games and hiking and shopping and talking and partying and all that good stuff.
I now have friends on every continent, from a long list of countries. Every country I have been to, and the ones I am planning on traveling to, have people that want to learn from you and to teach you. People want to trust you. People want to change the world. People want to gain perspective. People want to understand you and for you to understand them.
Be searched. Search.
Be questioned. Question.
When the hourglass is reaching it’s last few grains, flip it.