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a southern yankee abroad

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Middle East

Next stop…Israel!

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I can’t believe I am leaving 1 week from tomorrow for a 9 day trip through Israel! I have always dreamed of visiting this land–the birthplace of 3 major world religions and a cradle of ancient civilization. Every Sunday for the first 18 years of life, I learned something about Israel. I can’t wait to see it in person.

I will be meeting up with a group of (awesome) fellow law students from NYU, and we will be spending the week visiting sites with religious, historical, and political significance. I am so excited for this opportunity…I have always felt drawn to visit this country for its spiritual and historic significance, and the trip is just around the corner!

What to pack? I am having a bit of trouble as I am starting my list. We will be doing a little bit of everything—visiting the Old City of Jerusalem (including the Wailing Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mount of Olives/Garden of Gethsemane, and Via Dolorosa-the road where Christ carried the cross), Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, meeting a Justice at the Israeli Supreme Court, hiking Masada, camping in a bedouin tent, 4-wheeling in the Golan Heights, floating in the Dead Sea, getting some sun on the beaches of Tel Aviv, and meeting with various cultural representatives and law firms. We are also arriving during Purim, which is supposed to be very fun (it is the equivalent of Jewish Mardi Gras!) Sadly, I think I am going to have to leave my backpack behind and take my suitcase instead for this trip.

So far, I think this is what I am going to be packing. I am definitely looking for suggestions though, as I have never been and keep seeing mixed weather reports for Israel in March on Google! I feel like I am overpacking…but am I leaving anything out!?

-2 bathing suits

-flip flops

-sandals

-sneakers

-1 J Crew shorts

-2 Nike shorts

-1 yoga pants

-1 elephant pants from Thailand

-2 jeans

-1 long sundress

-1 going out dress

-1 pashmina (to cover shoulders in the Old City)

-1 professional dress (for Supreme Court visit)

-2 rompers

-2 tank tops

-3 dressy casual tops

-1 long sleeve top

-3 t-shirts

-1 small purse

-bandana

-baseball cap

-Uniqlo Light Down Jacket

-socks

-underthings

-glasses + sunglasses

-toiletries

-computer/chargers

-Bible

-Kindle/other reading

I already feel this trip will be the most meaningful trip I have ever taken in many ways. I hope I am packing the right things! Maybe I will try to pack it all in my backpack…for sentimental reasons, I don’t want to leave it behind…it has been with me to Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe. We will see if it all fits. The countdown is on, and I can’t wait to be on the road again!

From Vietnam to Peru

It’s always hard to say goodbye, and I found this to be especially true as my time in Asia drew to an end. I won’t miss the heat or the crazy motorbikes almost mowing me down each time I walk down the street, but everything else I will definitely miss! Even after 3 weeks, I was not yet tired of the food, the culture, the history, and the friends I had made. On our last night in Vietnam, our group had a farewell dinner at Cau Go in Hanoi, which turned out to be quite the posh spot (posh is another word I’ve adopted from my British friends!) I spent the next day packing, saying goodbyes, doing a bit of last minute shopping around Hanoi, and sitting by Hoan Kiem lake one last time.

 

By a fortunate twist of fate, my closest friend from my Asia trip, Nat, was on the same flight as me from Hanoi to Doha, Qatar. It was so great to have a friend on this flight! 🙂 IMG_8529We said our “see you laters” in Doha around 11pm, as he was continuing back to London that evening. I was so happy to learn that Qatar Airways would provide me with free 5 star accommodations for the night before my 8am connection to Dallas. This was by far the “poshest” accommodation I’ve had yet on the journey! Thank you Qatar Airways! While I had initially been nervous to spend the night alone  here, everyone in Qatar was extremely hospitable, helpful, and nice. I highly recommend Qatar Airways! After showering and catching a few hours of sleep in a big, fluffy, clean bed, I returned to the airport for my 16 hour flight to Dallas.IMG_8549IMG_8545

 

Despite some turbulence over Iran and Russia (which I of course freaked out a bit over…hyperactive imagination?!), the flight went very smoothly. I watched several movies and listened to some Bob Dylan on their entertainment system (so on point!), then touched down in Dallas. I had not anticipated how good it would be to be back in the USA even for a few hours!! I even found a special soundtrack for landing 🙂IMG_8567

 

Once in Dallas, I walked around the airport for a couple of hours to stretch my legs and made calls to family and friends. I also realized how completely exhausted I felt, so I stocked up on Airborne tablets and Tylenol. I boarded my flight to Lima at 10:20pm, but we didn’t take off until around 11pm (typical for my experience with American Airlines! Why can’t all airlines be like Qatar?!) The plane did not even have a TV/entertainment system, but it was ok as I finally caught a few hours of sleep. After about 7 hours, I was in Lima, and the sunrise was beautiful from the window.IMG_8580

 

I was so happy to find my checked backpack had made it all the way to Lima from Hanoi, as I had my doubts about all the crazy connections. I made my way through customs and quickly found my driver I had booked transport in advance through my hostel). My driver did not speak English, so I spoke with him the entire drive in Spanish. I was relieved to see how quickly it came back to me (gracias to Senora Sephore from high school and Senora Botero from Vandy!), and I am excited to see how much I will improve over the next 3 weeks.
I arrived at my hostel and checked in, and am now enjoying some coffee on the porch with my new friend Pisco. IMG_8595Sarah arrives at 11pm tonight, and I absolutely cannot wait to see her!! She and I will be traveling together for the next 3 weeks here, and our friend Rachele (also from NYC) will be joining us about halfway. I am so happy to be in South America! Encantada!!

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