Why Did the Camel Cross the Road?

14 May

Last summer my family took a trip to Israel.  After my visit to one of the holiest, most magnificent and diverse destinations in the world I was eager to share my experiences with friends and family.  But what they were most interested in knowing didn’t have anything to do with history, geography or spirituality.  They wanted to know, “Was it safe?”

So leaning in close, I whispered, “One night we were dining at a traditional Middle Eastern restaurant and a waiter came by and…”

“And what?”

“He accidentally stabbed me with a shish kebob and I nearly choked on my falafel.”

I wondered, why not ask, “Did you visit the Dead Sea?” or, “Did you pray at the Western Wall?”

It was like neglecting to ask a New York tourist, “Did you visit the Statue of Liberty?”  or, “Did you see Time Square?” and instead asking, “Were you mugged at gunpoint?”

Our trip wasn’t what my friends and family probably imagined: “To the west you’ll see the Wailing Wall, to the east you’ll notice the Dome of the Rock, and to the south you’ll observe a city bus exploding.”

For two glorious weeks we marveled at the magnificent Mediterranean coast, explored ancient ruins and walked on sacred ground. We found the answers to deep  questions: How did it feel to climb Masada, the mountaintop fortress where Jewish defenders killed themselves rather than be captured by the Romans?  What was it like to unearth ancient artifacts over two thousand years old?  We would even solve the proverbial question, “Why did the camel cross the road?”

It wouldn’t be fair to say there’s no violence in Israel.   The 64 years since Israeli independence have been marked by conflict.  What else would you expect of a country that’s surrounded on all sides by enemies? It’s like putting Batman in a boxing ring with the Joker, the Penguin and Cat Woman and not expecting any punches to fly.

It’s true that border areas around Gaza and the West Bank are susceptible to terrorist attack given the enmity between Israelis and Palestinians.   And that’s why you won’t find me sipping a cappuccino at the Gaza City Café wearing a Star of David necklace.

But I didn’t miss the opportunity to visit Israel.  In a country where homeland security is cutting edge and public safety is a top priority, I saw it as a worthwhile risk for a lifelong benefit.

Everyday we sweep chance under the carpet.  The chance we might get T-boned at an intersection, the chance we may black out from noxious glue fumes while scrapbooking, or the chance we might be electrocuted reading kindle in the bathtub.   And that’s just in our own neighborhood.

What about other travel destinations?  With a crime rate of 845 per 100,000, Orlando is ranked one of the most dangerous cities in the U. S., but that doesn’t stop us from visiting Disney World.

So therein lies the question:  Why did the camel cross the road?

Because he wasn’t chicken.


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32 Responses to “Why Did the Camel Cross the Road?”

  1. transplantednorth May 14, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    I read your post through my friend Debbie, who writes the Letters from New Jersey Blog. I have traveled to Israel four times in my life and if I could afford it would pack my bags and get on the next Israel-bound plane right now. I blogged extensively about our last trip and i still have so much to tell about it, and yes, the top questions/comments of friends were: how was the weather” and “did you feel safe?” To the second question, I always answered, “absolutely yes.” I hope you share more of your trip and come check out my blog posts about our experience in Israel, we can compare notes!

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 14, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      I am also eager to return! It’s a small country but offers huge adventure! Thanks for sharing your positive experience.

  2. sportsattitudes May 14, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Perception has everything to do with where and what we think is safe versus what truly has a high rate of incidence. We convince ourselves some locations and actions are idiot-proof and safe…but in some cases just the opposite may be true. The media “helps” form these ill-conceived stereotypes. They of course have their own agenda in determining what is news for us. If someone glances at someone the wrong way in Israel, it makes “headlines.”

  3. mysending May 14, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Thank you. thankyouthankyouthankyou.
    The only time that I ever felt in danger while traveling to (and from) Israel is dealing with all the travelers pushing their way in front of me to get their luggage before me.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 14, 2012 at 11:08 am #

      Or pushing their way to get fresh rogelach at Shuq Machaneh Yehudah on Shabbat!

      • mysending May 14, 2012 at 11:37 am #

        okay yeah. That too:).
        But that’s so worth it it doesn’t count!

  4. crubin May 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    What an amazing trip that must have been. As you point out, if we let fear rule us in our travels, we’d have few places left to go.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      It was truly amazing, and I am glad I let logic, not fear, dictate my plans or I would have lost out on an incredible opportunity with my family.

  5. transplantednorth May 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    another interesting perception of “safe”: In Israel, teens roam free on the streets socializing at all hours of the night, without a worry by their parents. I still can’t comprehend this, but when we were in Tel Aviv, my high school daughter met up with some of her Israeli friends at our hotel. We gave her some shekels, they took her out and they went walking buying falafel and ice cream and hanging out on the beach until after 11. I would In contrast, I would never let my daughter at the age of 15 roam the streets of NYC or any big American city without an adult.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

      Yes, it seems more similar to Europe that way, in that kids are more mature and are allowed more freedom.

  6. Life in the Boomer Lane May 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    I took my three kids to Israel back in 1999. Everyone said, “Oh it must have been such a great spiritual experience, because you are Jewish.” I said not, that it was a great historical experience. Israel was, for thousands of years, a crossroads of cultures. I was overwhelmed by the idea of civilizations all converging on the same small spot on the planet. And I am saddened that this tiny piece of land has been the setting for such human misery and conflict. But it’s also a shame that anyone would be deterred from going. We saw nothing of the conflict and I have never spoken with an traveller who has.

  7. Stacey Hatton (@nursemommylaugh) May 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Are you on one of those camels? I agree with everything else everyone has said above, but no one has mentioned the obvious…are you riding a camel? Inquiring minds need to know.

  8. cindyricksgers May 14, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    I love this post! What a great perspective! My biggest regrets are the things I didn’t do simply out of fear. Thanks!

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 15, 2012 at 8:48 am #

      Thanks, Cindy. Fear sometimes stops me in my tracks too. But I try to remind myself that my biggest regrets are often things I didn’t do, not things I did do.

  9. earthriderjudyberman May 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    After the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland (Dec. 1988, I believe), we worried about visiting London. (About 40 people on the plane were from Central New York where we lived at the time. So this hit us very hard.) Like you, we decided not to let the terrorists hijack us mentally. We went a few months later and had a great time. I envy your trip. After reading, “Walking the Bible,” I’ve wanted to see many of the holy sites. Glad you were able to do so. Thanks for the great descriptions and for the real reason on why the camel crossed the road … 🙂

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 15, 2012 at 8:53 am #

      Judy, that is particularly scary when things hit us so close to home. But I”m glad you persevered and had a great trip. I hope you have an opportunity to “Walk the Bible” some day. On a camel.

  10. funnyortragic May 15, 2012 at 2:32 am #

    I don’t know, there…when I visited New York, no one asked if I saw the Statue of Liberty, but I had multiple people ask if I got mugged, how rude were the locals, and if I got bed bugs… I didn’t have exciting answers to any of those, so I elaborated on hearing the rats climb on the inside of my hotel wall as to not disappoint.

  11. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer May 15, 2012 at 5:39 am #

    On our trip to Israel we often heard that in the US we feel safe with our bordering countries but unsafe in our streets, while in Israel they feel safe on their streets and unsafe with their borders.

  12. prachi jain May 15, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    Assumptions! Assumptions! All based on our knowledge sitting on the other side of the world. I am glad you didn’t fall prey to those assumptions and decided to go have fun.

  13. thelaughingmom May 15, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    What a great story! And, what a powerful trip it must have been. The Israeli ministry of tourism needs your post.

  14. Dawn@LightenUp! May 18, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Gurrrllll! You ain’t chicken. Awesome.
    Funny lines in this. “Then he stabbed me with a shish kebab.”

  15. August McLaughlin May 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Such an enjoyable post! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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