Healthy traveling poses numerous challenges. For starters, if you have any sensitivities – allergies to dogs or a sensitive back, for example – booking through VRBO or AirB&B requires a more rigorous search, which can takes hours or days longer than if you can just grab anything clean with a bed and shower. In addition, you can’t just arrive empty-handed, or if you do, you must buy products at natural markets locally; because most places use conventional cleaning products with chemicals and have cheap kitchenware like scratched Teflon pans.
Then there’s the search for healthy eats at local restaurants, cares, and stores. In my case, I need fresh-pressed organic vegetable juice, along with other organic products, because juicing is a core part of my wellness regimen, healing naturally from cancer. There’s also the constant avoidance of smoke, pollution, and other contaminants . Given all these considerations, not to mention the challenges of sitting in tiny plane seats for hours at a time, if you have pain or sensitivity issues, as I do, traveling can be a royal pain in the ass – thereby discouraging people with health issues from leaving home.
The thing is, traveling in itself can be profoundly healing. It provides the opportunity to step into another reality – to relax, feel exhilarated, experience deep joy, and otherwise absorb whatever healing properties exist in other realms. In my case, whenever I visit Israel, I feel vibrantly alive and happy, for a litany of reasons. Among other considerations, Israel has always been a magical place for me – where whatever needs to end, ends, and whatever needs to begin, begins. Fortunately, since I left in 2005, a lot has changed here, on the health front. Previously, cigarette smoke was ubiquitous, and organic foods were few and far between. Now, however, there are organic juice bars, raw vegan restaurants, and numerous health food stores that make it pretty easy to stay healthy here, and I haven’t been to one establishment where smoking is allowed inside. Awesome.
Between eating traditional Iraqi dishes served by my aunts – including kibbah and malfouf (loaded with meat and sugar, definitely not an official health food, but healing in that they are from my heritage and cooked with love), I have discovered loveeat café, which serves organic coffee and is down the street from where I used to live on Basel Square; Anastasia restaurant, which has incredible raw vegan food – including the chocolate pistachio desert, which is quite possibly the best dessert I have tasted, like, ever; and Neroli health food store and café, which has delicious food and, at last, has provided me the hard-core, fresh-pressed vegetable juice I have been seeking since arriving here last week. Dogs are allowed in the first two establishments, which has been a challenge for me, but hey, it beats cigarette smoke by far!
Meanwhile, Neroli is so spot-on with what I need, in fact, that I just found a spacious AirB&B apartment in the neighborhood, with a fully-equipped kitchen. If I stay there, I can get fresh juice each morning and buy all the produce I need, to optimize the health of my meals for the rest of my stay in Israel. Managing multiple health issues, of course, I can’t just book the place based on location alone. As I write this article, I’m verifying whether the apartment has a real and firm/firm-ish bed. If not, I’ll need to get a tiny apartment I found about a 10-15 minute walk away from Neroli, because I have confirmed that place has a bed that is a good match for my back.
The amount of time I have to put into research can feel quite frustrating. But the investment is well worth the payoff that I receive in healing through traveling.
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