By Stephanie Lewis
I Just returned from Israel (and neighboring countries) but because I don’t write a tourism column here at L’CHAIM Magazine, I was just going to take all this great information straight to my grave. However the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced there’s one reader out there who might benefit from my strangely comforting travel tips. Are YOU that reader??
When inside airports that have heightened security, don’t loiter on benches darting your eyes furtively around. YOU know you’re contemplating which Duty Free shop to go drop major $$ in (because you forgot to souvenir shop for your kids) but the armed Israeli soldiers won’t get it. Neither should you have this dialogue:
SOLDIER: State your business for being in this terminal, Miss.
ME: (fluttering eyelashes) Wow, thanks for calling me “Miss!”
SOLDIER: I asked what you are doing here?
ME: Oh, I’m just killing time.
SOLDIER: Killing?! Passport and ID, please. Now!
ME: Wait, what? That’s just an American expression. You know like, “Did you hear about the huge bomb Ronit’s ex-husband just dropped on her?”
SOLDIER: You’re coming with me, Ma’am.
Try not to walk into open-air market places asking, “Excuse me but which aisle would feminine hygiene products be on?”
Don’t finally make it to Jerusalem, extremely honored to slip a prewritten note of prayer into the Western Wall, get confused and instead slide your “To-Do” list for when you return home.
As you enter the country of Jordan, never tell the stiff, rigid-looking Border Crossing Guards that you almost named your son “Jordan” but thought it might sound “too girly” so you went with “Benjamin” instead.
At the Dead Sea, just agree that you WILL float. Don’t argue with everyone around you that you’re an exception because you weigh too much for this natural phenomenon to work. Relax and SURRENDER.
Three hours later, when you’re finally satisfied that you can float with the best of ’em and decide to try covering your body with the black sludge that sits on the shores (because it’s supposed to have healing and therapeutic properties for your skin) don’t go around exclaiming, “Guess I’m just a stick in the mud, eh?” and elbow people roughly trying to nudge laughter outa them. Saying, “Well, here’s mud in your eye!” will get even less of a chuckle.
You will encounter co-ed public bathrooms. People back home can just trust you. You do not need to document this fact with photographs.
Many places will bargain for their wares, but you’re not Monty Hall. Don’t say, “Let’s Make a Deal! How about I give you some Mickey Mouse soap from an official Disney hotel, a Hershey bar, and I’ll throw in a lock of hair from my firstborn son for that beautiful Star of David necklace in the window?”
Don’t go to Masada and inquire if your entire Mahjong gang can have a group wedding vow renewal ceremony at the top? Or remark, “Gosh, it looked far more dramatic in the Peter O’Toole movie.” And when hiking around Petra, refrain from asking every tour guide, “Exactly which Indiana Jones movie was filmed here again?” This will not ingratiate you.
Don’t think you’re terribly clever figuring out that the Med, Red, and Dead Sea all rhyme (and you can use that to make money) because there’s already a tee-shirt for that. Coffee mugs too. Safe travels!
Stephanie D. Lewis is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, pens a humor column at OnceUponYourPrime.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @missmenopause.