Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Starting Internal (and how to go to Gaza by accident)

      Not too long ago, I spent the weekend by the water. Despite living here for two years, it was my first time camping on the beach. And it was glorious- perfect weather, clear blue water, soft white sand, and lots of friends, both new and old. We spent our time perfecting our tans, splashing in the waves, and playing matkot (think ping-pong using a raquetball and no table). And thanks to Virginia, we even managed to get in a little yoga.

       While yoga on the beach at sunset can be a deep meditative experience, one can never forget the Israeli factor. So while this photo shows some focused yogis, just out of frame is a naked four year old laughing and trying to do cartwheels as incoming waves nip at his heels.

       This trip was my last hurrah before starting life on the wards, beginning in internal medicine. As I look back over the past week, I struggle to perfectly describe just how much my life has changed. I am no longer a student, sitting in a classroom surrounded by books. I am a part of a medical team- I see patients, I assist in their care. And while so far that has mainly involved giving directions to the closest bathroom or unsuccessful blood draw attempts, it is a leap forward in my medical journey.

       I think my life on the wards thus far is like swimming in the waves. I have dressed myself in the proper outfit (both figuratively and literally) and I have run with abandon into the unknown. As the waves crash around me, sometimes I jump at just the right moment and the wave carries me. Sometimes I hold my ground and feel the power of the wave crash around me. Of course, sometimes the wave sweeps my feet out from under me and I am lost, completely at the mercy of forces around me. Yet those waves are my favorite. I am caught by something so much bigger than I can imagine. Even when I feel lost, there is no place I would rather be. 

      And now, for those of you who have read this far, an explanation for the rest of the title. In order to go on our amazing beach trip, I rented a car. In order to keep costs low, I took small highways instead of the major tollway. On our way home, I didn't use GPS. Israel is a small country with good signage, you rarely need it. (I'm sure some of you know what happens next). Most of the girls in my car were asleep, and I was ready for a shower and a nap. So imagine my surprise when the road we had been on for almost an hour abruptly stopped. In it's place was a giant cement wall, complete with barbed wire and guard tower.And a small door. And a large sign announcing the Erez Crossing. Thankfully, I followed the news this summer, and remembered that the Erez Crossing is one of the main ways into Gaza.

      So, of course, I turned the car around and retraced our route, certain that I must have missed a turn a long time ago. There couldn't be a highway that went righto Gaza, could there? Turns out I missed the turn by only 2 kilometers. So yes, there was a road that went right to Gaza. And it's easy to get there, even by accident. What a vivid reminder of just how small this land truly is. 

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