Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Greetings from Israel

Hi, I´m in Israel!

Oh wait, no I´m not! Im just on a small hippie island in Brazil where there is NO ONE BUT ISRAELIS. All of the signs are in Hebrew and everyone is speaking in Hebrew, and my pronunciation of the word hummus has been put into serious question. I didnt realize it was a word that originated so completely from the throat.

In general, there are a ton of Israelis in South America, kind of like there are a ton of Australians in London or a ton of Americans euro-railing around Europe. Its just that place that they go. They are required to complete 2 or 3 years of military service (depending on if they are female or male, respectively) and then afterward a large number of them come to South America to travel. So not only are there 5 million of them, but they are also alllllll 23 years old. Exactly.

The island is called Morro de Sau Paulo, and it is oe of the most stunning places I have ever seen. It is simply breathtaking, and I dare to say it gives Colombias amazing Parque Tayrona a run for its money! The beaches are perfect, with white sand and clear water. There are fruit juices and açai (the best food EVER) bowls covered in fruit and honey everywhere, and the local hotties play a terrific version of beach volleyball with their feet. This is not just here on the island, but all over Brazil. Unlike hitting the ball with their hands, they can use anything BUT their hands (head, feet, knees, chest), and they serve the ball by kicking it. Its a hoot to watch. Great football practice, too!

Anyway, its simply a paradise. An overpriced paradise overrun by Israelis, that is. I am NOT trying to disriminate at all here, but I mean honestly I feel ridiculous... I searched and searched and simply could not find a hostel that was both social and not 100% Israeli. It was one or the other. So for all I know, they are all just talking about the crazy non-Jewish redhead with the two black eyes, all the while sipping their vodka. Damn I should have studied Hebrew.

Ive befriended lots of the people, despite the fact that everyone is a lot younger than me, and am having fun reglardless. I took the 2.5 hour boat ride from Salvador this morning, and spent the day lounging on the beach, wandering around looking at funky artisan stuff and jewelry, and slurping my açai-banana-granola bowl while reading my book. Tonight there is some big beach dance electronica party I plan to check out. I mean, why not? :-)

I will be here until Friday morning. I wish I could stay longer, as this place really is the very epitome of RELAX... I should have budgeted more time here. Man, the sand feels good betwee my toes, and Ive discovered I look great in white dresses when tan. And when else will I wear one??? I simply must stay forever. However Friday afternoon, I have a flight back to Sao Paulo to visit my friend Paul for the weekend, and yay!!! I am happy about that too!

Overall Brazil has been a bizarre and totally bittersweet experience. I hope I am able to remember it positively. It has been tough staying positive, because I have now been the creepy girl with the two black eyes for over a week now, and Im getting sick of having people stare at me on the street, and then telling the story of my attack over and over and over... Im suffering from some sort of self-depracacting paranoia, where Im convinced everyone is staring at me all the time, and so the second they look at my eyes, rather than worry that they are thinking I got a nose job or just suck at putting on eye makeup, I immediately blurt out "I was attacked at Carnaval! I didnt get a noce job, and I do suck at putting on makeup, but Im not this bad!" Im becoming quite the hostel celebrity, especially since Im either the girl with the black eyes, or the girl wearing one of the pairs of flambouyant sunglasses I bought myself as feel-better gifts. Basically, I have officially grown into my title of "hot mess".

Part of me wishes I had friends with me right now... silly me, I was a bit more broken by this attack experience than Id like to admit, and I would love to have people around that I know and trust. But part of me is so, so proud of myself for not giving up. I hear over and over from people that if this had happened to them, they would have packed up and gone home, and I think to myself, "yeah, maybe I am kind of amazing for sticking this out." I refuse to have a defeatist attitude. Thats just letting them win. I want to go home filled with happy memories of my incredible year+ in South America, not on a sour note with a couple black eyes. So for now, on I go, truck truck trucking, drinking vodka with the Israelis, learning to correctly pronounce all my favorite Middle Eastern foods, soaking up some serious rays, and reveling in my expert portuñol, which is becoming more and more convincing by the day, especially now that Im on my own and forced to speak.

Plenty of time to reflect. Plenty of time to fantasize about the dream job in Ecuador I just applied for (fingers crossed PLEASE!!!). Plenty of time to just enjoy life, and remember each day how lucky I am, despite some ups and downs, to have this opportunity to know the world and more importantly, to know myself.


Treezy said...

Ahhh Israelis. I've met some great ones too, but they are one of the few nationailites that almost always live up to their stereotype.

They only seem to travel to 3 places. India (and to a lesser extent South East Asia), South America and while I can understand those two, I can't understand the third which is New Zealand.

The reason I can't understand it is because so much of their psychy is about bargaining. Both India and South America are firstly really cheap anyway, and also are bargaining friendly. They can, in other words, get away with it. But I don't get NZ. Sure it's beautiful, but comparitively it is EXPENSIVE and is NOT a bargaining culture. Not at all really, except at little markets or garage sales.

I've worked in tourism for 5 years now, and more often than not the Israelis that I have come across, antagonise people by constantly trying to get something for nothing, and often in a sneaky way to get free accommodation by paying for one person and sneaking the rest in.

Obviously not all are like that, but it is frustrating. They also don't like speaking English, and alienate the one English speaking person there by speaking Hebrew, when they all speak English perfectly. I don't expect them to be speaking it when it's just them, but a little bit of respect that there is someone who doesn't speak it would be nice.

Wow, you seem to have pressed a sore point with me! :)

What's the dream job by the way?

Hi, I'm Erica. said...

Hahahaha yes it appears so!!! But no probs, points taken. It is true that many Israelis do live up to their stereotype of being closed, kind of obnoxious tourists. Frankly, they are the most hated group of people around, from what I can tell, and they are impossible to avoid because they have infiltrated the continent.

However, I got lucky and met some really cool people from Israel on this trip, especially in Morro de Sao Paulo. Perhaps they were an anomaly, but I was happy for the company. Plus, I needed someone to translate all the signs in Hebrew!! ;-)

I guess one thing I learned in general on this trip, or re-affirmed anyway, is that there are good people and not so good people everywhere, no matter where you go. It's all part of the fun of traveling. You learn so much about people, and the world, and that not everything is one size fits all. Love it.