Guest Post by James: Israel


Here’s another sample of what 8-year-old James wrote in his private blog. My Instagram posts appear below James’ writing. (Besides the Instagram posts, picture credits are all to James as well.)

After our wonderful time in Egypt, we traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel. It was quite a change after two months of traveling in Africa (Tunisia, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya). We could finally drink the tap water, flush toilet paper down the toilet, and didn’t have to brush our teeth with a cup of bottled water. Also, we could finally eat raw fruits and vegetables.

We flew from Cairo to Tel Aviv, arriving at 11 pm on Shabat. Because of the timing, our taxi cost $70 to get to our Airbnb in Jaffa! When we woke up on Saturday morning, we realized that there was no wifi, so Dad got 100 GB of data for $9 so we ended up with a lot of wifi. We took a super fancy Shabat (free!) bus to Tel Aviv and saw Wakanda Forever. The next day, we planned to see Tel Aviv but the weather was too nice so we walked to the beach. Charlie and I made a sand turtle covered in shells and we named her SHELL-BY. The best part of Tel Aviv was a delicious falafel place with excellent pita; we went three times!

After Tel Aviv, we took a very short train to Jerusalem, which became one of my favorite cities. Not only did I develop my love of pomegranates, I also really liked the Mahane Yehuda Market. On our first full day, we took an excellent walking tour through Jerusalem’s Old Town and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was built on the site where Jesus was crucified.

We learned about the various occupations of Jerusalem, Jesus’ crucifixion, and the different quarters of the city. When visiting the church, a lot of people kissed the stone where Jesus was crucified, but we didn’t. The next day, we walked the Via Dolorosa, which is the route Jesus took to his crucifixion. We saw the spots where he dropped the cross, he met his mother, and the other 12 stations (14 in all). We also saw the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount, but I mostly remember the view of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Finally, we went to the Western Wall and said a prayer. On our way out of the Dome of the Rock, we got freshly squeezed pomegranate juice in the Muslim Market for $1; the vendor gave us a free pomegranate because my mom told him that we don’t have them where we live. We ate it for dinner that night. One of my favorite parts of Jerusalem was dinner every night – Mom, Dad, and Charlie went to the market near our Airbnb and got fresh pita, veggies, and hummus. We ate little picnics in our apartment for dinner, but I mostly loved the pomegranates because the seeds had little bursts of juice when I chewed them.

We visited Masada, a place near the Dead Sea. We rode a huge cable car to the top of the mountain to see the ancient ruins where Jews lived and hid from the Romans. It was really hot and I saw some graffiti, which made me angry. We also visited the Ein Gedi Reserve, but I don’t remember it very well but there was a waterfall.

After Ein Gedi, we went swimming in the Dead Sea, which is like pure salt. The bottom of the Dead Sea was salt instead of sand! I floated and reached a point where I couldn’t even sit down on the bottom of sea! I had a small cut on my thumb and it hurt when I put it in the sea.

We stayed in two other super cool places in Israel! The first was a Bedouin community in the desert. We slept in a huge tent, where we also had communal meals with the Bedouin family and another four Polish visitors. The meal was chicken and rice and it was delicious! Charlie drank 6 glasses of tea, but I didn’t really like it, but I loved the biscuits. The second super cool place we stayed was Kibbutz Lotan. We arrived in time for Shabat dinner, which was an also delicious buffet of chicken, pasta, bread, and juices. We sat with two teenage Kibbutz volunteers, serving for a year. (I would not like to volunteer there because I would have to wake up at 5 am every single morning and that is not very pleasant.) On our first morning, we had a ton of trouble finding the breakfast area, but it was another delicious buffet once we did. We took a tour of the kibbutz and learned about their jobs, kibbutz living and culture, and their commitment to sustainability. They make their own houses out of mud and hay! It was actually a pretty comfortable house! I think that they made their furniture out of wood and grow their own food. There was a tree called the Magic Tree and the leaves were super healthy and tasted like a spiced leaf. (It was disgusting).

After Kibbutz Lotan, we drove to the border of Jordan, returned the car, and walked over the border. I wrote a post of Jordan already.

Here are my Instagram posts from Israel along with a country counter at the end:

Country counter after Israel:

  • 28th country of our trip
  • Me: 67 countries (including 39 eating McDonald’s)
  • Karen: 67 countries
  • Henry: 41 countries
  • Charlie: 37 countries
  • James: 34 countries