Sunday, February 14, 2010
I am still alive :)
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 :)