Jet Lag


Wide awake at 4am. Too early and dark to go for a run, so I figure now is as good a time as any to catch up on blogging! I have so many posts planned out for the next couple weeks-- I'll probably end up doing two per day: one for Jordan/Israel, one for current Huntington Beach holiday happenings. And then I figure that it's been about a year since we went to Ecuador, and I still haven't written anything about that--maybe that'll be next up on my blogging list. Along with plenty of political and social commentary, as the Iowa caucuses are just around the corner. it obvious that I'm desperately trying to find things to write about to occupy my time now that I have NO SCHOOL and NO JOB and NO BABIES??? :)

Since I am jet-lagged, I dedicate this post to the jets who got me here. After a day in Sderot and Jaffa (more on that in a future post!), we arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv at around 8pm. We were SO excited to be heading home!

Our flight didn't leave until 5:30am the next day, but we got there at 8pm because everybody's flights left at different times (and it was just logistically easier for us all to dropped off at once). Right from the get-go, we decided to pull an all-nighter so as to ease jet-lag upon arrival in the States. Luckily, that isn't hard to do when you're surrounded by dozens of friends! We stayed up late making up superlatives ("Best Hair", "Best Laugh", etc) for every person on the study abroad--over 60 people. Brock and I won the "Old Married Couple Award."

Some may say that was based on our bickering, I say it was based on love.

That took a good two hours, and in the process we made friends with the female Israeli IDF soldier sitting next to us. After high school, every Israeli citizen must complete mandatory military service. I think it's generally two years for girls, three for guys, but it varies depending on the job you do in the military. The girl we met was 20 years old and worked for the Israeli public radio station. Apparently, an Israeli had just won the world surfing championship, so she was at the airport welcoming celebration to get a sound bite.

We all got to talking and it wasn't long before she was whooping our butts in Texas Hold 'Em. Little did she know that one of the players at the table--a guy from the study abroad named Sami--was a Palestinian! Sami said it was surreal to be playing a round of poker with an IDF soldier. That'll make for a great story to tell his kids.

We had such a fun conversation with her that ranged from politics (she was a socialist) to nature (she was an environmentalist) to cows (she was a vegetarian) to how--and I quote--"every source of evil in the world can be traced back to McDonalds." She spoke good English and even taught us a little Hebrew and Yiddish. When we told her we spoke Arabic, she informed us that despite four years of the language in high school, the only Arabic phrase she knew was "Stop! Stop or I'm going to shoot you!" And people wonder why there's so little understanding between these two groups!

At 2am Brock and I left the group to go check-in for our flight. It was interesting to get a taste for Israeli airport security--it's way more mentally intrusive than physically intrusive. (Then again, we were lucky with how easily we got through it. Some members of our group--just regular causcasian American kids--took a full THREE HOURS with security and one even missed their flight because of it!) Instead of naked body scanners, Israeli security focuses on what is essentially racial profiling. They ask you a lot of questions--where are you going? who are you with? did you buy gifts for people? what gifts? are you carrying an item in your suitcase that you accepted from someone you didn't know? They do this to both hear your answers and watch your reactions.

What I thought was interesting was their scanning of every carry-on item and every checked bag. Your checked bags are scanned before you get to the check-in counter, and your carry-ons after. There's also probably about six or seven different checkpoints en route to the terminal where they ask to see your passport and boarding ticket. 

Prior to my trip to Israel, I had read so much about how amazing and efficient Israeli airport security was. But in general, I would say that it's as time-consuming (or more so) than American airport security. Where they do have a one-up is with the people who run security. TSA in America doesn't exactly have a reputation for hiring the cream of the crop, but the security personnel in Ben Gurion was comprised of mostly young people who were bright, personable, courteous, and respectful. 

Anyway, we finally boarded our flight to Zurich and slept the entire way despite the annoying group of hungover "Birthright Kids" sitting around us. Israel offers each young non-Israeli Jews around the world an all-expense paid trip--a "Birthright Tour"--to Israel in order for them to get in touch their "roots." Some may call this an opportunity to promote Zionism and imbue life-long, blind pro-Israel fervor in young Jews worldwide.

From the looks of it, it seems to be a two-week vacation/bar-hopping extravaganza that young Jews around the world feel entitled to. 

Brock and I were not impressed at all with the Birthright kids we interacted with. It was easy to see why local Israelis view them as a necessary inconvenience. They have a reputation for being immature, disrespectul, and of just not "getting it." Most of them aren't religious or interested in politics--they're just looking for a free vacation and stamp in their passport.

Then again, if the government of some country--any country--offered me a free vacation, I'd be loyal to them for life, too. So even if Birthright Tours do little to connect Jews with their heritage (as they claim is their primary objective), they do help garner life-long devotees to the Israeli cause. In that light, these tours are a good investment for the government.

Despite their hangovers ("OMG, I need some drugs. I'm going to take soooo many pills on this plane so I can sleep. Adderal, Oxycotin, I don't even know what I have in my bag. But I'm going to take it allllllll.") and Zionist blabbering ("Jamie, giiiiiirl, did you know like, like some study has been done and Jews literally have better brains than other people?") we managed to get some shut-eye all the way to Zurich.

Our four-hour layover in Zurich made us want to move there. Every Swiss employee we talked to was so nice and went out of their way to see if we could be helped--it felt like we were at a hotel, not an aiport! They always left with a smille and a "Merry Christmas!" Merry Christmas! I don't know what it was, but there was some about hearing that rather than "Happy Holidays" that made gave me warm fuzzies :) I read a book once called The Geography of Happiness that had a whole chapter dealing with Swiss culture--how they like things (airports, cities, service, etc) clean, efficient, and flawless. I saw much of this manifested in just the little time we were there--from an advertisement for Swiss Air reading "Perfection is not relative" to the modern, minimalistic, and spotless terminal we waited in. 

At that point, the only thing standing between us and home was a 12-hour flight to LAX. Yeah, that sucker was long. But it was less tortuous thanks to the awesome entertainment system (a huge selection of on-demand movies, TV shows, music, and games) and little luxuries like Movenpick ice cream, Swiss chocolate, and warm towels :)

It feels so good to be back in the States--the first thing we did was grab some Mexican food at Chronic Taco :) And my sweet Brock even arranged for family to surprise me with a huge box of oatmeal creme pies! With Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and a box of 48 Fruit Roll-Ups waiting for me in the pantry when we got home.

I wish I was pregnant so I could have an excuse for that last paragraph, but I've got nothin'.


  1. great post kristi. i like that thing you said about feeling warm fuzzies when you hear merry christmas instead of happy holidays. me and my siblings sang carols at pearl street mall in boulder two days before christmas (where me made 125 bucks in three hours) and after one guy finished listening to a song and put some money in the hat he said "thanks for keeping it religious". i loved hearing that. especially in a place like boulder haha.

  2. just you wait. You'll be pregnant soon and then have the best excuse to ask your husband for some delicious food ;)

  3. You make me want to go spend a day sitting in a Zurich airport. What a cool experience - everything you recorded. I bet you're glad to be back after such amazing adventures =)

  4. Oh gosh, thanks for reminding me! I've been meaning to learn "Stop, stop" and "I'm going to shoot you" in french. Very useful phrases ;)


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