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Christmas in Bethlehem
Stumbling into childhood dreams
Sometimes, actually most of the time, we are disappointed to find out that stories we were told as kids do not correspond to reality. This has happened more than once to me when I departed on my journeys, driven by the untameable desire to find peace and tranquility, only to find out that reality was less romantic than how people had portrayed it to me. Most of the time there is no romanticism in real life, yet sometimes there is. Let me illustrate this line of thought with a few examples.
Childhood stories had always made me imagine that the desert is an endless space, untouched, brutal and mystifying. When I first set out to explore Jordan's Eastern deserts, I was startled to find it exactly as described above – however, my state of astonishment did not last very long. Five minutes later the bedouin next to me pointed out that he had lived several years in Austria a few minutes away from us and that he loved our beer. Suddenly the desert didn't seem so oriental anymore. Being in a state of a globetrotter's ecstasy there was another time when I was displeasingly shaken up and confronted with reality: Hiking up Mount Sinai in Egypt where Moses is said to have received the ten commandments. I enjoyed the solitude and the cold and sandy air. When I had finally had made it to the top I was covered in sweat but just came right in time to watch the rising sun covering the red mountains in even redder light. It was absolutely breathtaking! I figured that it probably was not too bad after all for Moses to spend so much time up here! My state of happy pensiveness only lasted a short time – a few Eastern Europeans had also made it to the top and celebrated their arrival by opening a bottle of vodka all cheering and laughing. Again I was disappointed to find that real life is just … real.
Now why am I giving you such a long introduction? This is my first entry on this website – it gives me the chance to speak about my experiences in Israel and how different from other countries I found it to be. When I first came here in September 2011, I was sure that hardly any of the biblical romanticism would correspond to reality just as the experiences above had taught me. How amazed was I when I first laid eyes upon the golden walls of Jerusalem and strolled through its narrow alleys, inhaling the spicy scent of Arabic coffee, when I watched religious Jews head towards the Western Wall for prayer and suddenly stumbled in a back yard of an ancient building where an avocado tree was in full blossom. Another time I happened to be in the Negev just after it had rained and found it covered with white and shiny flowers. I think in these moments I realized that sometimes stories do come true, sometimes infantile imaginations become reality. I came here almost one and a half years ago yet this feeling of being in a unique place has never left me. I hope you will join me on this journey, that still goes on and follow my blog entries when I uncover the hidden back yards of Israel and its oriental scents that are sometimes so intense that you can't believe life can be so colorful and beautiful...
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Have you ever talked to the beduins in the Negev, jumped off the crusader-walls into the sea in Akko or chatted with some Arab sheikhs in the Old Town in Jerusalem? Israel's the right place for this - read my blog...