|Citadel of Acre|
But I didn't want to limit myself to the travel habits of Emily Dickinson, who insists, "There is no frigate like a book." I wanted to get out of the United States and experience other landscapes, other cultures.
I chose to spend part of my sophomore year studying in Jerusalem due to its significance to three of the major world religions. Also, I was awed by how it had a much older history than London or Vienna.
So in January of 1982, I embarked on a six month travel study in Jerusalem with a group of nearly 100 other BYU students.
We lived primarily at Ramat Rachel--located at the most southern extreme of Jerusalem. But we traveled throughout the region.
Our studies included a week working on a banana plantation, Degania Alef and about five days travel in Egypt--Cairo and Luxor.
This post is part of the July's Blog Hop at Generation Fabulous. The thumbnails / links below will disappear in a couple of weeks, so here are links to three posts from the hop:
Patpourri writes about "An Awakening" in Oaxaca Mexico.
Soul Searching at Starbucks describes the challenge of "German Grocery Shopping."
Fun and Fit shares "11 Helpful tips for Travelers" based on a 1974 trip to Europe.
I got to swim in the Red, the Dead and the Med. I walked through Hezekiah's tunnel, crawled through caves near Hebron, waded in streams near the Sea of Galilee, and in many other ways made close contact with the landscape.
I was usually covered with a fine layer of dirt from some part of the region, especially since we didn't have access to washing machines or dryers. We had to wash our own clothes in the showers at Ramat Rachel. But the histories of the landscape drew my attention away from my dusty attire.
|Tel Be'er Sheva|
But I soon learned that California is an adolescent compared to many other places in the world. When my classmates and I first entered Jerusalem, it was night. Before taking us to our kibbutz, the bus stopped across from the Temple Mount so that we could take in the scene of the Old City at night.
I was extremely sleepy from the long flight from the States. However, I distinctly remember feeling dwarfed by the moment. I was a mere dot on the timetables of history.
Here was a city that had buildings dating back several centuries before my lifetime. I could sense the millions of people who had lived, traveled, loved, studied, fought, and died there over the centuries. And millions more who have read, written and sung about this land by only visiting it in their imagination.
On the one hand, I felt very small, young and insignificant during my time there. On the other hand, I also felt cosmically connected to something much larger than myself, my own traditions and my own understanding of the world. Not only did I feel a reverence for the Divine Force, I felt a reverence for all of humanity--for peoples of all time, cultures, races and traditions. I could sense how we are all striving for the same goals in or own way,.
Decades later, I read Geraldine Brook's novel, People of the Book. While set in many landscapes where Christians, Jews and Muslims have coexisted--and not just in Jerusalem--Brooks captures in part the feeling I experienced during my travel study. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a book signing where in response to my short introduction, she declared, "Oh, you are Hanna!" the novel's protagonist.
When I returned to California in June of 1982, I felt a real loss. The newness of my surroundings seemed ridiculous, tinny, fleeting. People were concerned about maintaining their cars, their tanned and toned bodies, and their lush front lawns. And I wept as I took my clothes out of the dryer only to find all traces of that ancient soil removed.