Friday, September 3, 2010

First Night in Israel

September 2, 2010

Since the internet here in the Kibbutz is shoddy, I'm writing these when I can, putting the date I'm writing about on the top, and then posting it when the internet is cooperating. It's confusing, but, in the end, unimportant.

It feels like I’ve been here for so long, but really it’s only been about 30ish hours. So yesterday after my flight landed, I waited in line for passport control FOREVER, then got my bags without hassle and met Dan right outside customs. He was there with three girls, Julie from Boston, Marissa from New York, and Sara from Ohio. They all seemed really nice, and we had nice ride to Jaffa from the airport. Some of the scenery looked a lot like Southern California, but many of the buildings look different. They do this thing where on one side of the building the upper floors are scaled, so it looks kind of like they are falling down or ruins from a distance. There were some super weird songs on the radio that Dan said were programmed by the rental car agency, which is staffed by “Israeli Guidos.”

We got to the apartment in Jaffa, which is a super cute building, definitely the cutest on our block. Our apartment was on the first floor – apparently the coexistence track has 3 apartments in the building. I saw all three of them, and they are all really nice, so I don’t really care which one I permanently get assigned to. Even though all three of the other girls are in the community track and will be living in Tel Aviv, we were all staying in the Jaffa apartments for the night before the program really starts.

For a while we all just hung out in the apartment, but then we took a walk around the neighborhood. We ended up in Old Jaffa, and the other three (who had all been there before) remembered this awesome place up on hill where you have a stunning view of the harbor and Tel Aviv. It’s a pretty touristy spot, but for a good reason, because it was absolutely incredible. As we walked up these old sand colored stairs, we saw a bride a groom taking wedding photos. Then we meandered up the hill, and heard this live klezmerish band playing over on a stage to our right. Right when we got to the top of the hill, the band creshendoed into a sort of mystic Irish fusion song. We sat up on the top and watched them play for a while until their sound check was over (they were setting up for a concert that night.) It was a really beautiful hilltop with an archway about some Biblical story or whatever. Pictures will be on facebook soon. The awesomeness of the live music and the incredible panoramic view of the ocean and Tel Aviv was not even obscured by the rather creepy old man in a bright red shirt that said “Let’s talk dirty” on it who was walking around on the hilltop. We also saw 2 or 3 other wedding parties, and I think we were accidentally in several wedding photos. Oops.

After soaking that in for about 20 minutes, we walked down the hill and found a falafel place for dinner. The food was very good, and we were happy we navigated our first Hebrew sales event (even though we spoke English the whole time.) The food was overpriced (23 sheckles!) but felt good. After dinner we went back towards our apartment, and then went on a hunt for towels for Sara. After about half an hour of hunting, where I was the only one who didn’t give up hope, we finally found them! Success! It was awesome. Sara even bargained the price down, so we all felt good about it.

When we got back to the apartment, we met a bunch of other girls who were going to be staying in our apartment for the night. Since Julie, Sara, and Marissa are all from the Community track, so I was excited to meet people from my Coexistence track. All the people seem very nice. There are only a few guys in the program (I think four?) so it’s lots of ladies. There are people from all over, but we all found connections. Julie went to UMASS, so she and I bonded over the valley, and she found a friend from preschool, and two girls here went to camp in Georgia together. It’s random how all these people can find these random connections in common, and how much we search for them to make this place seem a little more like home.

After a long time of hanging out, we all went to bed. It was SWELTERING in the room Sara and I slept in, so it wasn’t my best night’s sleep ever.

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