Showing posts from July, 2012

Fun Times in Israel

Out of all the things I expected from my recent trip to Israel (culture, religion, spirituality, history, connections), extreme fun was not on the list!! I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover just how much fun our trip would be. From the minute you get off the plane in Tel Aviv, there are a million exciting activities to choose from.
 Sometimes we got to get dressed up and go out on the town
 Party time with my girls in Jerusalem
 Visiting an outdoor dance club with the group
We spent a lot of time in the desert, which is less barren than you might think. I visited my first kibbutz (more on that later), but also got to spend the night in a Bedouin camp. Bedouins are Arab nomads who live in the desert. The changes in borders in the Middle East in the last hundred years never really took into account their lifestyles, which is apparently becoming harder to sustain. Governments pressure them to modernize, resulting in many urbanizing or moving into small villages.
Sandy photo- this…

Discovering my Roots

Considering my nomadic lifestyle, I would travel to the far corners of the Earth to finally feel a sense of home somewhere. I do want to travel, don’t get me wrong, but I would love to find a place that I could see myself living in long-term. Something is always off, and I do consider the fact that it is probably me and my issues that leave me with separation anxiety from an imaginary community in my mind.
My heritage is all over the place; my mom grew up Jewish but raised me in a Catholic household. I have German, Russian, Italian, Syrian, Lebanese, and Irish in my blood. My family is spread out across the States, and I feel no connection to the area of Florida where I grew up.
I’m not trying to escape anything; I am genuinely searching for something. I just don’t know what that is yet.
I learned when I was 18 that I was potentially eligible to go on a Taglit Birthright trip to Israel. I don’t know if me describing the organization can do it justice, so here is the description from the…

Hiatus in Israel

Dear Blog World,

I am sorry I have been out of touch, but I went to Israel for 10 days! After sleeping 3 or no hours a night for 10 days in a row, I am finally back to reality and semi-coherent enough to log on. However, I am not ready to begin processing everything I experienced in Israel. Please accept these highlight photos as an apology.

See you in a few days,

 Hung out with friends in Haifa
Hiked to the top of Massada to watch the sunrise
 Swam/Exfoliated in the Dead Sea
 Stood in the room where the Last Supper happened (not the da Vinci painting- the actual event!)
 Got in touch with my spiritual side at the Western Wall
(and kinda fell for that Israeli soldier along the way)

Slept in a bedouin tent in the Negev desert
 Made friends with Israeli soldiers
Got a little goofy/delirious/overwhelmed by the end of it all!

McK's Traveling ESSENTIALS

I am a super packer. That is one true brag right there. The one thing I tend to mess up on is packing for cold weather because I am from Florida, but unless I am headed to a snow capped Andes volcano, I could and should be a professional packer for the reluctant nomads out there. I know exactly what to throw in the backpack, what to leave behind, what to put in your carry on and why. For now, I want to share my travel essentials. These are things that go on every backpacking trip with me, regardless of where I am headed.

To me, these items are more important than underwear.
Earplugs- Who knows where you are going to end up sleeping or who you will be sharing a room with in a hostel surrounded by 9 other backpackers. Bring these to block out the sound of snorers, the pervy dude on the plane who won't stop talking to you, or the empty disco next door that refuses to give up.

Q-Tips- Being on the road is no excuse for dirty ears. And I have allergies.

Super Glue!!!- This one gets exclama…

Electronics Dilemma

I have way too many electronics to be a responsible backpacker. Right now I feel like I am pretty much asking to be robbed every time I leave my house. I got accepted on a Birthright trip to Israel and I am leaving on Wednesday, and as I am starting to think about what I am going to pack (since I am going to travel around the US for another couple of weeks after going to Israel), I am realizing that I have an ungodly amount of electronics that I consider invaluable.

1. iPod (with my Bose headphones of course)- With over 90 gigs of music that I refuse to be without, my iPod is mandatory on any road trip filled with long flights and bus rides through foreign territory.
2. Nook- Wifi access and 100 different books. I used to lug around 10 books at a time in my backpack, but the Nook just makes so much more sense. Now I don’t feel pressured to loan out my precious books to strangers in hostels. I am very over possessive when it comes to my books.
3. Flashlight- To read my Nook at night. Tota…

Back in Paradise

For the first time in 6 summers, I spent the 4th of July home in the good ole U S of A! Last 4th of July I was attending a hot dog eating contest in Antigua, Guatemala. Not totally sure how I feel about that.
View over the Caloosahatchee River in Downtown Fort Myers
Dancing at the 4th of July Block Party
Brown paper baggin' some Tall Boys at the 4th of July Block Party ...aka, I'm classy.
Live street music- The Jewmaicans (reggae band)
Sparklers time!
Why don't I light stuff on fire more often?!
Expected 4th of July fireworks photo
 Hanging out with my bees after the fireworks show
Growing up, I did not appreciate living in the Florida gulf coast at all. When I come home now though, I love the palm trees, fruit growing in my dad’s yard, the 10-minute drive to the beach, the scorching humid weather that seems to make everything sticky and wet. I have to roll the windows down in the car for the first 5 minutes I am driving anywhere because it is too stuffy to breathe! I love fr…

An Alternative Quito Music Scene

Believe it or not, Quito has music OTHER than salsa, J. Lo, and Pitbull! I was lucky enough to stumble upon a sort of underground electro indie music scene in Quito, which may be small, but is a ton of fun and full of great people. I found some great photos of the concert we went to, and photos from some other music events.

The Sunday after I left, there was a music festival all over Quito that my friends went to. There is a cultural blogger who made this video of the event. I thought it would be nice to share some of the cooler Quito culture with my readers:

BIO STAGE from A L A J A on Vimeo.