When one travels or plans to travel to a certain place I feel like certain expectations are eminent. For example, if you travel to Mexico, one expectation is that the weather will be hot enough to sport a bikini everyday and in every picture #selfie #inMexico. For Paris, a stereotypical expectation is that people will be rude and not speak to you if you dare utter an English word. Not all expectations have to fit into the stereotype but most due and I guess there is a reason behind that.
I do not know the stereotypes for Israel or Palestine, to be honest other than the politics and religious factors I really do not know much about Israel and Palestine. What is the most common meal? Do shops close for two hours in the afternoon like in Europe? Are there soldiers walking around all the time? Are there Australia sized spiders there? I honestly do not know, as for the latter I hope not!
I like to know what people think, what they thought before they arrived at their destination, their first impressions and how their thoughts at the end of their trip compared and contrasted with their initial expectations.
Here are some of my pre-trip thoughts:
- It will be hot. 30 plus degrees.
- I am going to see men in military attire with guns frequently, if not daily.
- I will see a certain level of poverty I am not accustomed to seeing other than on media outlets.
- I will meet remarkable people.
- Friendships will be made.
- I will do good for the communities Operation Groundswell strives to help.
- Sand will find its way into everything: shoes, backpack, my hair...
- I will be nervous, slightly unsure at times but I hope to come out of it a better, more educated person.
- I will discover a new favourite food and try something I will not like (something like a seafood dish, that everyone says tastes like chicken).
- Amazing, happy memories will be made.
With only a few days left, the packing has began and honestly I do not know how it will turn out. This is my first backpacking trip and my concerns are: having enough clothes, and the proper gear (sleeping bad, etc.) while at the same time being able to carry the bag on my back without falling backwards. I have been making lists, and crossing things off. Do I have too much? Do I have too little? Is there really a common ground? Toiletries is a whole other situation which I think I have under control. I am not planning on bringing any make-up as I think what ever I do bring will melt off and I plan on wearing multiple layers of sunscreen anyway.
I believe the process over the next few days will involve taking things out, putting things back in, trying on my backpack, and convincing myself that I will in fact live without that item for 6 weeks and I need to be more humble and less material obsessed. Wish me luck on this journey. Hopefully I will overcome my disease of over-packing.
Do you have a similar experience when you are packing for a trip? What were your thoughts about a place that may or may not have changed by the end of your trip?
Labels: 2014, Adventure, Culture, Israel, Middle East, Operation Groundswell, Palestine, Travel, Volunteer