Sunday, February 28, 2010
I know 2 posts in one day!!!! Im feeling ambitious (or Im just procrastinating my engineering homework :) )
So last night was Purim. In very simple terms its like a Jewish Halloween. But Purim is actually a religious holiday with a significant story involving a lady named Ester but Im not really sure of the details. All I know is its actually a good deed to dress up and get drunk on Purim so you can't tell who anyone really is. Crazy right? Anyways last night I dressed up as Tiger Lily from Peter Pan, a whole group of us had a Peter Pan theme going. We started off at a Purim party sponsored by Jeff Seidel (the religious guy who took us to Tzfat) it was pretty fun and we had free food and everyone was in costume. After that we went to a street party in Tel Aviv. It was insane. The streets were packed, and there was African music playing, cheering, raging, dancing, and a lot of chaos. There were so many people, and everyone was happy and having a good time. We walked around for a while taking it all in and danced to the African drums! It was quite an experience!!!
Last weekend we travelled to Eilat. Eilat is a city in the southern part of Israel right on the Red Sea. It has awesome beaches and I got a head start on my tan :) On our second day in Eilat we took a day trip to Petra, Jordan. Petra is one of the new 10 wonders of the world. It is a city that was carved into sandstone and was key stop for merchants on the silk road. Being in Jordan was really awesome. The mountains were gorgeous and I had never seen a desert before. It was a little strange being in an Arab country, the guys were VERY friendly/skeezy, but our cab driver was nice and even stopped at a few locations on the way for us to take pictures. The trip was really amazing overall, but I was glad to return to Israel at the end of the day. The rest of the time in Eilat was super fun. We were able to relax on the beach all day and then go out at night. We met some cool Israeli guys, but they were a little to forward... Anyways the hostel we stayed at was really chill. It had a little bit of a mexican theme in the decor, but the staff was really nice and our rooms were pretty clean. There were 8 of us in one room, so there were 4 sets of bunkbeds. I was one of the lucky ones who got a top bunk, and i couldnt sit up straight on it without hitting my head :O It was still fun, and it was really cheap, so we survived the weekend!
Sunday, February 14, 2010
So I have been slacking, but I have also been VERY busy adventuring! Il try and group my adventures into chunks.
MY first trip to Jerusalem was last weekend! My friends Sharon, Oliver, AnneMarie and I were invited to spend Shabbat with Sharon's family friends. We left Friday morning and took the bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was very cold and very rainy but we toughened up and kept exploring. We went to the Shuk and bought some DELICIOUS chocolate honey challah, and all split it as we kept adventuring. we then went to the old city and walked around. We found a great Falafel spot and decided to stop by and grab some lunch. It was completely empty when we got there, and we thought "oh how nice, we will give this small store some business". About 5 minutes later buses and buses of 8th grade age students came pouring in from tours hungry for falafel. We were trapped in the back corner. It was very overwhelming to say the least. Following that fiasco we took a cab to the family's house and got ready for shabbat. The family we stayed with is orthodox, who keep shomer shabbas, which means that starting sundown on friday until sundown on saturday they can do no work. They don't use electricity, (not even turn on/off lights) they can't write, or anything. It was very interesting. We went to services Friday night, it was very different because they separate the men and women because orthodox people believe men and women cannot learn together. The family was really nice, and I was actually surprised by how unsheltered the kids were and we were joking about movies like The forty year old virgin and shows like Mad TV. I barely noticed that we weren't using electricity because I had a blast playing scrabble and monopoly all night. the whole weekend the girls had to dress very modestly in skirts, leggings, and long shirts. It was a very enjoyable experience but Im not sure if orthodox is the life for me.
My program sponsored a trip to Jerusalem for the day instead of ulpan (hebrew class). I knew this day was doomed from the start. First we had to meet at the buses at 7:30 to depart. In true Israeli fashion we loaded the buses at 7:30 but then we sat there for an hour waiting for who knows what. When we finally take off it is almost nine and we hit traffic. A car ahead of us had caught on fire and backed up traffic for almost 2 hours. We don't arrive in Jerusalem until almost 11. We checked out some cool outlooks and took a few pics. We then went into the old city and had some free time. Sharon and I left the group because we were later meeting her family friend. MISTAKE!!!! First when we were going to the Western Wall, Sharon had a bird pooped on her head. The western wall was cool, but I find it kind of weird that praying by this "wall" is more holy than praying anywhere else. Then we met up with Sharons friend and she took us around some of the new city of Jerusalem. Then upon heading back, we were sent on a bus in the wrong direction and ended up needing to take a cab to the bus station to get back to Tel Aviv, costing a total of unecessary 60 sheckels!!!!!!!! I was so frustrated!!! But I guess it was a charater building experience.
Tzfat, Tzfat, Tzfat, Tzfat, Tzfat:
At Tel Aviv University there is a man named Jeff Seidel who sponsors classes and trips fro students to teach them about religion, and in the end make them more religious. If you can handle the religion part, you can go on super cheap amazing trips throughout Israel! This weekend we went to Tzfat. I had some of the most fun Ive had since Ive been here. first we went on a rope swing. Its where you are almost like Tarzan and you swing over and into a cave. I was scared at first but once you are swinging you feel amazing! After we went splunking in a cave. It was one of the coolest things Ive ever done. We crawled through this tiny cave, and ended in this large opening in the cave. The whole group met in there and everyone turned off their flashlights. With tthe lights off we were in complete darkness called "ancient darkness" where you cant see anything, not even your hands on front of your face. After caving we went atving which was awesome!!!! First I failed the driving test, and they almost didn't let me drive the ATV, but I put my best sad face on and they let me try again and I passed. We ATVed all around Tzfat and saw some awesome scenery. there were mountains and hills, with rocks and trees. It was truly beautiful. It literally took my breath away. Im really sad I didn't get any pictures, but I didn't want to break my camera while ATVing or caving. The rest of the weekend was services and religion stuff, which is not so much for me, but I had 3 great meals and a ton of fun! Im super sore today though from all of the caving and climbing.
This week is my last week of Ulpan before "real" classes start, and this weekend we have a trip planned to Eilat. Eilat is a great city in the south with awesome beaches and, we plan on going to Petra which is on Jordan and is considered one of the new wonders of the world! Il be sure to take lots of pictures :)
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
So this past week hasnt been the most exciting because starting Friday night my cold took over and I could barely survive!!! My cough barely sounded human and my nose was running a marathon! Its been very unfortunate because Saturday I didnt do any exploring and just tried to rest up! As for the week, Ulpan started up again sunday and Im learning quite a bit of Hebrew. It just sucks that I have some not so intelligent people in my class who keep us from learning beyond a preschool pace. Yesterday was my suitemate Melissa's 21st BDAY!!!!! We had a super fun day which started at an artists shuk, and continued to the normal shuk, where I bought this awesome orange scarf that I wore today pirate style! Many people told me I looked very Israeli with it and I was thrilled!!! After the shuk we had champagne on the beach and watched the sunset while jamming to some music! Very cool! the sunset was gorgeous and it felt unreal. We finished off the night with a Thai dinner that was delicious and so filling! I ate way too much and still felt full this morning! This weekend I have plans to experience Shabbat in Jerusalem with my friends sharon, annemarie and oliver. It will be very interesting experiencing such a serious part of the jewish religion in the holiest city in the world. Its also rumored to snow which I heard is when Jerusalem is at its best! I will be sure to take lots of pictures! Til then I will just post this picture I took of Tel Aviv from Yafo!