As interesting as life can get, mine always seemed a little less interesting than my peers. Forgoing the big OE after University, I watched as friends discovered the US, Britain, Africa and countless other destinations. I listened in rapture as they spun colourful tails of European nightlife, of escaped muggings, of escapades that surely even Dorian Gray would have been proud of. Yet here I was, trapped at the arse end of the South Pacific, in the semi-colon of beauty that most of the world would struggle to find on the map.
Don’t get me wrong, my choice not to travel and sate the wanderlust that dwelt within wasn’t all grim memories and despair. While my contemporaries were off gallivanting and seeking fame, fortune and a warm bed for the night (sometimes two if they were lucky), I did manage to snare a beautiful woman, trick her into marrying me (John Cadbury – I owe you one) and together we have been fortunate enough to create two wonderfully trying bundles of venomous energy.
Eventually, I found myself at the point in life where a mortgage, two sprightly bundles of joy and a job were severely limiting my prospects of travel. Moreover, my wife had already experienced Disneyland, safaris in South Africa, and I couldn’t help but think that she found a certain joy in laughing at her backwater husband. But then I came up with a master plan… why not use my skills and my profession as a teacher to seek other avenues that could possibly be more beneficial to a traveler on a budget? Most importantly, I needed to further educate myself to ensure my continued inclusion in the local pub quiz team.
It was with this in mind that I stumbled across the Yad Vashem Educator’s Seminar and scholarship. For those in the know, Yad Vashem is the organization responsible for ensuring that the Jewish Holocaust (Shoah) is not forgotten. As a history and religious education teacher, I was already teaching students about the Holocaust and it had impacted me and my studies through university. It seemed like the travel gods had heard my plea and had opened a door for me. Needless to say, after completing a whole bunch of paperwork and getting some good references (wine works best), I applied and was eventually awarded a Yad Vashem scholarship.
So, here I am. The night before I leave to Auckland to connect with my flight to Israel and I’ve never been on a flight longer than three and a half hours. What do I pack? What do people even wear in Israel (yarmulke, check!)? Is deep vein thrombosis even a real thing? What if I have to go for number twos on the plane and there’s a queue behind me? Arghhh, the nagging doubt of uncertainties!
Nevertheless, I will try to pack light and keep a notebook so that any forgotten items or essentials unthought-of will be rectified the next time I travel.