Wild Young Minds: An Empty Summer in Amsterdam

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

An Empty Summer in Amsterdam

All right, finally an update about my trip to Israel and Jordan. To come straight to the point, there is no more trip to Israel and Jordan. But a simple story is never a satisfying story, so let me begin at the beginning. My roommate Paula and I booked a flight to Tel Aviv last February. All was great, we were looking forward to seeing all these holy and outstanding places, but we were also looking forward to travelling, being on the road and away from the standard life in Amsterdam.

As you all know, there's been a conflict between Israel and Palestina, between the Jews and Muslims and between Hamas and the Israelian army  for ages. I'm not going to tell the entire history - that would take me ages, and though I do have lots of free time now, it's a hard story to tell - but definitely read it, it's extremely rough but oh so interesting. Anyway, when we booked our flight everything was relatively quiet. Until June, when 3 Israelian teenagers were killed in the West Bank. The agitation started again.
From the 8th until the 16th of July the Israelian Army started bombing Gaza. Hundreds of people were killed, among who many, many children. Hamas also sends missiles to Tel Aviv and other cities in Israel, but due to Israel's expensive and qualitative defence system, none actually attained it's ends. At this moment, there are still many citizens being killed. The question for us: would it be safe to go? 

According to our close family and friends, it would not. Under none of these circumstances. Why go to a fighting zone? Why look for danger if many people are trying to escape the danger? Why spend your holidays in an underground shelter?

According to people we spoke in Tel Aviv - some girls from college, my nephew's boyfriend, couchsurfing friends - we shouldn't be afraid. The tourist places are pretty safe and besides, media is blowing everything up. The west - so yes, our country too - is focusing mostly on Israel's side, when there are much more people killed in Palestina than in Israel. The defence system will protect us.

According to ourselves, we changed our mind a million times. Before Berlin, I thought we should just go. We are two confident girls, not easily afraid and both interested in the conflict. Me as a future foreign correspondent and Paula as an antropology student who's been to Kenya before and knows what bomb threatenings are. But everyone around me, especially my parents, kept saying that it would be better to stay at home. No one forced me not to go - and no way they could've - but it sucks when you want to do something everyone keeps telling you not to do.
And then came Berlin and the mosquito intecedent. I realized there that all I wanted was a relaxed vacation, to reload before university would begin again and to travel around, meet many people and have a good time. Israel wouldn't be such a country. Traveling would be hard, we would have to be aware every moment of the day and it would cost more stress than a vacation should cost.

But of course there was also the money. We had called the airline company already, and it was clear that we wouldn't get our money back. Only when the government would give a negative travel advice, which they haven't done so far and probably aren't going to either. Why, no one understands. All they say is: be careful if you go there. So 300 euros flew away without us. It gave me a few panic attacks, since a last minute trip to another cool country on my list wasn't an option either. It's high season, so flights are outrageously expensive.

Finally, we both decided to stay. For our safety, yes - though we haven't been afraid we were going to get hurt one single moment - for our rest and also a bit ethically speaking. Both the Israelian Army and Hamas are taking unethical actions. But I have to say, I despise what's going on in Gaza. So many citizens killed, so many children, it has to stop. It's a situation we can't do anything about. Not if we were there, not if we are here.
So honestly, it sounds a bit weird to complain about my empty summer in Amsterdam, since many people are praying for an empty summer in Amsterdam. I, as a bohemian, gypsy and free spirit, have some difficulties with not going away for the summer. But, as everyone keeps telling me, I have nothing to complain about, I've been to Morocco, to Barcelona, to Berlin and to London this year. Besides, I just planned a trip to my friend Jordi in Paris and I can work and save money for San Francisco next year.

What I'm going to do with my free time? My intention: trying a new thing. Trying to relax more, plan less and experience the unexpected. A way of living totally against my nature - except for the last part - but I think it's a wise and sensible - hate the word - resolution. I will keep you informed about the progress. Let me promise you one thing: the next posts will be positive ones. Better than the last two. But hey, isn't that the way life goes? What goes up, must come down and the other way around. Let's pray for Palestina.

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