Click here to listen The past two weeks in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt have been a spiritual and emotional awakening and a breath of fresh air for me. Seeing The Middle East and North Africa for myself has been amazing. The pandemic and life itself have been a LOT to deal with, so this trip has been a relaxing reset. I have traveled overseas before years ago while I was in college I studied abroad in various Italian cities and have vacationed in London, England, Paris, France, and Athens and Santorini, Greece. Yet, this trip just feels different to my soul and was my first international trip since 2016! Also, my mother traveled back in the 80’s to Israel and other places and my maternal grandmother traveled years ago to the Holy Land too, so it’s in my blood to explore!
I went by myself with the Go-Ahead travel group,(click the underlined link for more info.) which consists of various cultures and types of people from across the U.S.A. The tour company also has payment plans and take care of everything like flights, tours, local tour guides and translators, security,and transportation for you and was worth it to me! I was also happy I went with a travel group and not alone because it was a LOT of pick pocketers and people that prey on tourists, so I am grateful for the local tour guides and the security we had on the charter bus in The Middle East/North Africa. Also, to see the touristy sites be prepared to wake up early or go earlier in the day when it’s cooler and less crowds or research the better time of year to go. This is a major factor for a religious region with different holidays. Seeing places that I’ve only read about in The Bible or National Geographic or heard about from Westernized media has been very eye opening.
Traveling and learning more about the three Abrahamic Religions✝️☪️🔯(Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) and this Holy Land for myself has expanded my mindset on religion and spirituality. The people in Jordan were so kind, yet very curious about me and some Jordanian teens and small children came up to me out of curiosity and intrigue wanting to take pictures and interact with a darker skinned Black American like me.
I felt like a celebrity or something with all the stares in Amman and Aqaba, Jordan. The culture here in the Middle East & North Africa is different. Not as many people were looking down at devices all day as much and actually talk to one another or make do with so much less and women dress much more conservatively in beautiful fabrics and coverings (hijabs)and have beautiful eye brows and makeup. Some of the Jewish men in Israel wear yamakas on their head. There is internet-WiFi at the hotels I stayed in, but not many English speaking options to watch and very censored and dubbed media outlets. In Israel the people primarily speak Hebrew, English, and other languages. In Jordan and Egypt, the people primarily speak Arabic and English and other languages too. So far the top highlights so far of my trip have been in Israel floating in The Dead Sea with no swimming or floating device!
I can swim and love the water, but The Dead Sea is so salty and the pull of gravity below sea level literally makes you float on your back and the sea salt water and oil makes your skin feel like you have been at the spa! So cool! Then riding on camels in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan was amazing. The scenery literally looks like a screen saver or movie set, but this is nature! This is real life! I had to pinch myself and after taking so many pictures put my phone up and just absorb the environment. I am in amazement with the people of the Bedouin tribe with NO GPS and being in the middle of the desert with no lights etc. they navigate the land by camels and star gazing and looking at the mountains.
Reminiscent of the wisemen in The Bible Story of the Nativity of men following the stars to find Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to give them gold, franksense, and mur. Also, the camel’s hide feels like soft carpet! As a believer of Jesus seeing the places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and going to the places where Jesus walked and performed miracles was chillingly moving. Going to the Western/Wailing Wall to say a prayer and put a prayer in the wall in Israel was powerful and going to the Garden of Gathsemene where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified gave me chills.
I was also in awe seeing the pyramids and sphinx in Giza, Egypt and The Nile River and I immediately thought of Moses and the book of Exodus in the Bible and the film “The Prince of Egypt.”
The ancient ruins and wonders of the world have stood the test of time! I also thought of Michael Jackson’s Egyptian themed “Remember the Time” music videos. Also, it was eye opening going to the Holocaust Museum and memorial in Israel. It was heart breaking seeing the remnants of such evil. Out of respect I did not take pictures inside of the Holocaust Museum.
It was also interesting and so beautiful looking at the ancient places, architecture, and ancient ruins in Jarash, Jordan or Al-Khazneh (the treasury) in Petra, Jorda, which was also featured in “The Indiana Jones” Movie series and have stood the test of time. Also seeing the Upper Room where Jesus and his disciples ate At The Last Supper and where King David was buried in was intriguing too.
Going through the border control to leave Israel and enter Jordan and seeing the walls that divide the Holy lands and the political, religious, and repercussions it has on the people in the area were eye-opening. In Israel, young men and young women must join the military at 18 and it was interesting seeing them patrol the streets and holy sites with rifles. Whereas in Jordan and Egypt I didn’t see as many weapons just a greater police presence. In Israel, Jordan, and Egypt there really aren’t a lot of pork food options due to the religious aspects of the area.
However the grilled lamb, fish, chicken, hummus, pita bread, potatoes, rice, fruit, and vegetables were so fresh and good and people drink lots of hot tea. I don’t think there are the same preservatives there are in the food as in the USA.
Also, the time change is about 6-7hours difference. So when it’s afternoon or evening here it’s early morning or middle of the day or night back home in the USA. Soccer and Basketball are major international sports so it was cool seeing people enjoy that. There is so much more I can say, but overall this has been a trip of a lifetime. I will forever cherish these moments. Thank you, God!