A TEN DAY TOUR OF ISRAEL AND JORDAN!
Ahhh! The dream trip of a lifetime, right?
Not so much!
With the exception of perhaps the city of Jerusalem and Israel’s agricultural areas, I wasn’t prepared for the shock of the colossal amounts of trash and garbage literally everywhere I looked. After all, this is the Holy Land we are talking about here.
Sweet expectations meet the horror of reality!
The number of feral cats that roamed the streets and countryside was like nothing I have ever seen in my life. The garbage and trash problem no doubt serves as a key source of food for the little critters. I can only speculate that the cat population answers an inevitable rodent population, though, thank goodness, I didn’t see any evidence of rodents while there. I assumed that if there were any rodents, the cats probably made short work of consuming them. On my return home, I learned that Israel’s cat population exceeds 1 million.
In stark contrast, I found that dogs were the minority in the extreme. I’m not saying they don’t exist there, it’s just that I didn’t see many, especially in relation to the number of cats. On the entire trip, I counted only two. At one of the tourist stops, I happened to turn toward a home nearby and saw a pooch on the rooftop and hurriedly snapped this photo:
Where were all the canines?
Had they been eaten by the feral cats, too?
A mystery that begged an answer. I didn’t get one.
But back to the trash and garbage issue.
Despite the loads and loads of trash at store fronts, streets, hillsides, neighborhoods, and on the beaches of the Sea of Galilee, I was struck by the fact that not a single one of the tour guides or anyone else for that matter (even the other tourists we were with) ever mentioned or acknowledged the trash and garbage we witnessed as we made our way from one tourist landmark to the next.
Incredibly, it was as if all the trash and garbage was invisible and completely nonexistent. Granted, the tour guides are probably so used to seeing endless trash and garbage strewn from one end of Israel to the other that they don’t even notice it. It’s just the way of life there. Sad!
It was distressing to see people walk out of markets, open a package of cigarettes or candy or whatever it may be, and just toss the trash on the ground and drive away.
I guess I should have researched “trash and garbage in Israel,” before signing up for this trip of a lifetime. You can be sure I will never rely on scrubbed and shiny pics of tourist destinations again. I will look behind the curtain next time. Rose colored glasses off!
A July 2018 article from Haaretz newspaper perfectly illustrates what I am trying to communicate here. It is a huge problem with no real answers.
Sure, I took lots of photographs of all the happy touristy places in Israel and Jordan, including Petra. There are a million of the same pretty photographs on line. While all in all I had a good time (I had to steel myself), I still could not get past the distressing signs of decay and filth everywhere we went.
If I had it to do over again and I knew what I know now, I think we would have spent our hard-earned money elsewhere.
In fairness to Israel, however, the U.S. is right on track to be every bit as filthy when it comes to trash and garbage–perhaps even more so. Our once beautiful cities, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, among many others, are on pace to perhaps surpass Israel when it comes to the runaway garbage, trash, human waste, and used hypodermic needle issue. It was recently reported that the rat population in Los Angeles is exploding as a result. Perhaps we should import a few hundred thousand cats from Israel to help solve LA’s rat issue. New York City could use some help as well.
I know this isn’t a warm-and-fuzzy-all-over travel blog entry. Let’s face it, there are times when travel to a certain city or region isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For me, this was one of those rare times I came away sad, disappointed and frustrated. I wanted to know how this problem is permitted to continue? After all, Israel is no third-world country. A recent international survey was conducted of 80 countries, and Israel ranked the 8th most powerful country in the world. That’s impressive. The survey included rankings on military power, cultural influence, economy and entrepreneurship.
No, trash collection wasn’t a component in the survey, though it should have been.
I suppose I could have (like so many others in our travel group) chose to see things through rose-colored glasses and skip along my merry way without a care about it. But I guess I expected more of a country that is chock-full of some of the most brilliant minds on the planet that could in some meaningful way work to solve the issue. Maybe they are in the process. I hope so.
Yes, my trip to Israel was indeed memorable, but sadly for all the wrong reasons. Many of my friends told me before I left for Israel that the trip would forever change me. Yes, it certainly did. I am not eager to return and I will probably never choose to visit again in this lifetime. Just like I will not vacation or choose to visit San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, or any other city that is in the same condition. I prefer to remember these cities the way they once were many years ago.
The inept government officials in charge of our U.S. cities that are drowning in decay are a serious problem. But this is another subject for another day.
I will leave you with this…
The following video production, Seattle Dying, is profound and shocking. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend doing so. It will open your eyes:
And so goes the way of most of America’s once most beautiful cities.