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Notes from my Previously Adventurous Self

December 15, 2009

I stumbled across this e-mail a few weeks ago and decided to post it here on the anniversary of it’s writing. I failed. Sorry. You probably weren’t reading here on the 12th anyway, so I’ll placate myself with that.

Remember back when (pull those cobwebs away) we didn’t all blog and have status updates and twitter? Yeah, back when we communicated through highly personal mass e-mails. I am getting all nostalgic just thinking about it. Anyway, I had lived in Kenya for a year and decided to travel through Israel and Palestine for a month or so, mostly by myself, about two months into their Second Intifada. I am glad I did it, but there were also so many opportunities for me to die, I probably wouldn’t have if I’d known how rockin’ my life is now.

12 December, 2000
Tel Aviv, Israel

Dear Everyone,

I know you have not heard much from me recently, and
now you are suprised to find me in the middle east,
but you will just have to accept the reality of that.
I am on holiday, and my credit card has felt it.

So, I headed out of my site on Saturday and made it to
Nairobi to get my passport and WHO card and some
money, etc. Lately I have become a lift-magnet and it
has been nice. Piki-pikis (motorcycles), but mostly
cars, somehow people are just willing to help me out.

On Monday night, my first leg of the journey was
finding a taxi for a decent price to the airport. I
succeeded, but only after a man who had stopped to
give me a lift was chased off by a taxi driver who
wanted my business (and did not get it). We fuond the
terminal and I was suprised to find that the gate was
full of white people. I thought that the group in
front of me was French and thought it odd that every
single El Al employee in Nairobi spoke French when I
realized this language was Hebrew. I guess that shows
how culturally inept I am, but why does it sound like
French?

Anyway, I was put in a line of my own apparently
because I was the only one not with a group. I now
think maybe all the Israelies in Nairobi know each
other. I was also the last person, but I just stood
there thinking how smoothly everything was running and
how quickly everyone was getting through lines even
though there are all those horror stories about tight
security. Then they chose their security problem for
the flight–me. I tried to ask at one point why I had
been the chosen one, but they told me it was just
“routine.” Of course, I don’t beleive that; in my
time in detention, I worked on several theories about
why it was me:
1–I was last in line
2–I was alone (no one else to get irritated at my
detention)
3–the girl was a trainee and maybe I looked
non-threatening enough to practice on
4–I looked too tired to get worked up
5–I was young
6–My shoes were dirty
7–I didn’t know Hebrew, so they could talk behind my
back
8–I had suspiciously little baggage for a 3-week trip
9–I didn’t have any concrete plans
10–I did not make enough notes in my tour book (which
they checked).

First, I was just questioned about everything. Then 5
employees gathered around and discussed me in Hebrew.
Then they took me back to a room where they put my
bags and had me open them and then made me go and sit
while they closed a curtain and went through
everything. I could peek a little and could see they
were putting every item in a plastic basin and putting
it under some special machine. I didn’t get
strip-searched, but they did take my shoes away for a
long time to study. The fact that I had 2 passports
with me drove them crazy, and I understand how that is
weird. It all seemed very interesting and I wish they
had explained things to me, but I guess they
couldn’t–if I were dangerous, I might learn how to
evade them better. In the end, they gave me a voucher
for coffee and cake, but I just had some juice.
Unfortunatly, this ordeal made me feel that I wasn’t
really wanted and that I would be a suspected
trouble-maker everywhere I went, but that has not been
the case, thankfully.

The plane arrived at 8 am and the passport control was a peice of cake. I got a bus to Tel Aviv and checked
into a hostel[nb–buses are super nice, very clean and
comfortable–no need for private transport here]. It
seems pretty nice, but more importantly, there is a
Tower Records right accross the street. I always
shrug when I hear volunteers complain about
over-stimulation when they leave Kenya, but I thought
I was going to die of excitement. I cannot even buy
anything because the CDs are expensive and I do not
have a player, but just looking at them was
fabulous–I didn’t know what to do with myself. I did
find a CD that has a Morrissey song I don’t have on
it, so I will have to buy at least one. Can’t wait.

Then I went walking–I needed a new back pack, lunch,
and some film. Can I tell you my backpack story? I
got an Eddie Bauer backpack in middle school and used
it through high school, university, and Japan, so I
figured I would not bring it with me to finally break
down. Becuase I am my mother’s daughter, I bought
another Eddie Bauer backpack right when I came and it
has been nothing but dissapointment–broken zippers
and uncomfortable. So, Israel was the place. I knew
there was a mall on a certain street, although it was
not on the map, but I set out to find it and really
eventually did–I am sure it was a far from direct
route. I think I am lucky that the mall is not on any
of my maps, nor is that part of town–the unbeleivable
distance I travelled would really depress me.

Guess what I found at the mall? The Israeli armed
force. Yup, all of them. My impression of them is
that they are young and have ill-fitting pants. If
Israel needs these people, they are going to have a
hard time getting them out of the mall and then an
even bigger wardrobe problem–these uniforms cannot be
very easy to move in, let alone allow intelligent
thought. Anyway, every soldier seems to have a few
things in common (besides the uniform):a backpack or
slackpack or some kind of pack, a military boyfriend
or girlfriend, and a cell phone. Many of them have
BIG SCARY guns; I thought Kenya would have made me
used to that sight, but somehow a policeman on the
side of the road with a riffle and a girl trying on
new lipstick with one hand and holding a riffle in the
other are very different.

No real luck on the backpack front–I saw a lot, but I
am looking for one that I can put a lot into and it
still won’t look big–a difficuly combination. Lunch
was BURGER KING–yum–no cheese though, I guess that
is an attempt to make it Kosher. I decided to take a
different way home–hopeless circles, but I reached.
In the process, I found and bought a too expensive
backpack, got propossed to (no, it is not just a Kenya
thing), and bumped into the American Embassy–it is
right on the Medeteranian, which must be a security
threat.

In Kenya and Japan, I have become very accustomed to
people thinking they ought to talk to me in English
just because of the way I look. While that was not
really the case, I have found that it is a bit
uncomfortable to have everyone address me in Hebrew,
expect me to understand, and reply. I guess I should
be glad I fit in for once. But, I don’t like to be
yelled at in Hebrew, and I am very afraid of doing
something wrong. I have been yelled at a few
times–now I know to open my bag for the people
standing at store fronts to inspect on the way in.

I think I really like Tel Aviv. It has the advantages
of a city, but does not seem to have the
disadvantages–it is clean and feels very safe and I
have only seen 3 beggars, and people were giving them
money! Still, it is expensive, and I think I will go
north to Galilee tomorrow. Still thinking about that
one, but it is my plan.

By the way–my Kenya address has changed to:

Emily Sorensen
St Pauls’ Mitiro
PO Box 361
Bondo
Kenya

I am transferred to a differnt school and that is a
long and not very happy story. I think I better go
though since I did not get any sleep last night. See You–Love–Emily


PS–back then, I did not automatically save all the e-mails I sent because I had this idea that my yahoo account had a space limit that I might reach. So I actually have very few of these dispatches; I only have this one because my Aunt Sheila replied to it basically telling me how stupid I was to be there at that time, in the nicest possible way, of course. Anyway, if you knew me then and saved any e-mails that I sent from my emsorensen account, I’d be tickled to see them again.

PPS–Apparently, I couldn’t afford spell-check; it takes time and at an internet cafe, time is money. You understand. Misspelling is charming.

PPPS–This was pre 9/11; Israel was WAY ahead of us on security.

PPPPS–I still have that backpack I bought and really quite adore it.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    December 15, 2009 10:42 am

    Why was I not on your emailer list? I never received your emails from Kenya. Very interesting and so sad that you don’t have them all, I hope you can track them down. It’s always strange and fun to read old emails or letters.

  2. esodhiambo permalink*
    December 15, 2009 10:54 am

    Maybe you should go back and check your aas38 at email.byu.edu inbox, because that is the address I had for you at that time. I am almost positive that I just sent these out to everyone in my address book, because I have replies about them from former mission companions and BYU home teachers and, no offense companions and home teachers, I am pretty sure my sister was more of a priority for me. You probably just don’t remember them because they weren’t from Travis.

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