I spent three months in the summer of 1993 as a volunteer on a kibbutz in Israel and had the time of my life!
I stayed on Kibbutz Erez, on the Gaza border, and one of our day trips was to visit the ancient ruins of Avdat in the Negev desert.
I turned nineteen that summer and this was my idea of heaven; exploring somewhere as exotic and remote as Avdat with a bunch of other like-minded young people from Sweden, Ireland, Germany, France, Japan and Holland.
The heat was relentless, the sun seemed to shine brighter here than anywhere else, and my hair was long and unkempt. I looked exactly like the vegetarian, teenage gap-year student that I was.
The sun had bleached the dark hairs on my arms and legs into fine golden strands, while the heat had turned my shoes into pungent pits.
We saw camels everywhere; in the streets of Jerusalem, at the Mt. of Olives, and here in the desert.
1993 was the year of my escape; from school, from my family, from the grey life that I had been living in Oxfordshire, from the everyday and mundane existence that I’d known up until this point. Israel was brighter and more colourful than I thought possible.
I felt free.
Going to Israel changed my life; I made friends with people from all over the world, my eyes opened up to the possibilities of travel and most importantly, for the first time I truly believed in myself.
Who knew that the desert could offer so much?