It was strange to realize how long I’ve actually been in Kuwait. It’s been just over two months of work but I’ve been in the country long enough to need to renew my visitor visa this week. Crazy to think about considering how much we travelled when I was here for almost the same time for my internship! It was weird doing my first departure without Becca but I managed and didn’t fall asleep waiting for my flight in the middle of the night. I don’t know what it is with this region and the difficulty in getting normal flight times.
Turns out I’ve gone through my adjustment of I’ve been somewhere new and sort of forgetting that my “normal” has been recalibrated. On my quick connection in Istanbul I was doing double takes at men and women touching. I was also confused, now that I’ve been practicing reading signs, that I saw a mosque symbol but couldn’t slowly read out masjid in Arabic letters as it was written phonetically in English. Connecting at airports continues to fascinate me. I’m always so intrigued by the variety of cultures and where everyone must be going. In my foggy haze of it now being morning and not having slept, it fuels my wanderlust even more. But mostly all I could think was, I can’t wait to get to Tel Aviv and find Leda and see trees!!
After landing Friday morning I was pretty tired from a ridiculous late night flight but I was so excited to see Leda, one of my dance professors from my undergraduate program, that had offered to be my host in Jerusalem. It’s been at least 5-6 years since I’ve seen her last and can’t believe we met 11 years ago when I started my program! Though we haven’t met up in ages, it was so welcoming and familiar to find her waiting outside the airport for me. And I’m so so grateful because I’ve already seen a different side of Israel thanks to Leda and her husband. They have tolerated all my random, and likely ignorant, questions so kindly and I’ve been fascinated with the things I am learning about the history, culture, day to day, etc. As expected, it’s a much different profile than one might see on the news.
The first day was relaxing with an orientation to the neighborhood and a little venture to the market. We walked through a bit of forest where I saw first hand how intense the forest fires here can be. They have come right up to the edge of Leda’s building! Things were generally quiet this day as I arrived right before the start of Shabbat. It was a little quieter than normal before sun down but being at the market I got a brief glimpse of the hurried shopping by people trying to get back home in time. Delicious food and continued conversation were rounded out by hot buttered rum and a Miracle on 34th street in an effort to satiate our holiday spirit 🙂