This summer, trying to avoid the Swedish Summer, I decided to finally go to Israel. I have many friends who love the country and always recommended me to go.
I prepared myself for my trip, with no expectations or illusions, I mean, I come from Brazil. We have sun, beaches and happiness, so would I be affected by the Israeli magic? Well… I was not really sure, but it was worth a try.
Coming and passing from the Airport Control was a bit tricky with questions like: Why are you in Israel?
Me: ”Well I live in Sweden, we don’t have summer there :-)”
After a few questions, I was in, and got the first heatwave which brought me back memories from Brazil.
I do understand that Israel needs to be careful with who enters and leaves its borders, so I answered all questions and left with gratitude, after all they are doing their security job. I took the train and headed to the flat me and two people had rented, my total of days spent in Israel would be 18 days. More than enough to be content visiting this country and missing home.
After leaving my bags at the flat I headed to the beach and met my two others friends who were already in Israel.
Arriving at the beach Frishman I sat down and started to enjoy the beach. As a Typical Brazilian, I was bit afraid about how cold the water would be, as living in Sweden, I am used to have this cold water in summertime, which I do not enjoy at all.
I left the beach after some hours and headed back to our flat.
My friends were very curious to know if I so far liked Israel or not, and from what I had seen, but I was for the next three days observing and trying to feel the environment.
We headed to the Gay Centre the other day to get some info, I was like: ”What? A Gay Centre in the Middle East? WOW!”
I was very surprised with how gay friendly Tel Aviv was, it was a total WOW effect, but I was still on my Analyzing/Observing Mode… I did not want to be influenced by my friends who love Israel. I wanted to form my own opinion of what Israel was to me.
Going to Hilton Beach, I saw my first gay couple holding hands on a Beach in the Middle East, they were not afraid or trying to be discreet, they were showing the love they felt for each other, and the straight Israelis around seemed not to care a bit about the couple showing affection.
The next day we went to see Hevron. A friend warned me to not go there, it was dangerous, but how could I let some people scare me from going to see Avraham’s Tomb? No, I would not let fear interfere on my quest to discover Israel. So we took a bus and got there…
We had a wonderful time at Hevron, Lovely place…The Avraham Tomb was a powerful, spiritual experience. A once in a lifetime experience.
We headed back to Tel Aviv… and to our luck it was White Night. I was like: ”What is White Night?” I was soon to discover, it means FUN.
It was the first time I saw religious people putting dance/club music on in the street to make people dance and be happy. It was a powerful experience. I never saw such harmony in a street gathering, and I come from Salvador-Bahia in Brazil, well famous for its street carnival. AMAZING Tel Aviv!
During my time in Tel Aviv, I could see how the city is growing into a modern capital of the Middle East: the buildings are fantastic, and there are new ones being built. The feeling of respect to people’s origins, religions and sexuality one can not deny. Just walk around and one can testify it.
No, there is NO such thing. What I saw and experienced was happy Muslims being as happy as they can be, I even dare to say that they seem much happier in Israel than here in Sweden. There are no lines for Jews/Muslims, there is not mistreat… People are RESPECTED…
They only Apartheid, it’s a person’s own intellectual apartheid when one does not want to integrate/embrace modern values…
But after some days, I could not be cynical anymore, after all that I saw, I do agree that Israel can be dangerous… It can be a dangerous place when one comes to visit and falls in love with this special place and its people and do not want to go home…
After my first two weeks I felt that I had had enough and wanted to go home, but for the first time, I felt that I was home…
Now I am already planning my next trip… Am Yisrael Chai!
By Nilson Medrado-Santos
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