Upon arrival in Israel, I hit up my social media world to see if I had any connections in my current location. Some were dead-ends, but one turned into a beautiful reunion. Erika, a friend from my days at Chapman University, and Rock Harbor Church was also in this fine city, and even better actually wanted to hang out.
We grabbed some coffee and set off to take the city by storm, or just walk several laps around town. The majority of our time was spent making tracks in the old city and hitting up two of the three main religious sites, including the Church of the Sepulchre, and the Western Wall. We continued to wind through, around, and over the old city.
After we had gotten our fill of extremely old, and extremely important sites, we made our way to the newer part of the city. As Erika had already spent a couple weeks here she was happy to show me some great spots, along with places that are actually open on Shabbat.
Our adventure didn’t end there, we made our way to the Arab neighborhood close to my house for falafel and some World Cup madness. Holland was playing and I have adopted them as my secondary team to cheer for. I’m already a shameless bandwagon World Cup fan, I’m totally ok with picking and choosing my teams. It was a delightful time hanging with a heard of old dudes smoking hookah and cheering on teams that neither of us actually had roots with.
Hang day with Erika was grand demonstration of how big and small the world can be. Although I’m half way across the world I was still able to run into someone that I knew. Being in a place that is so totally different its nice to have a familiar face. Although I had only been in town for a few days it was great to verbally digest the political information that I had already been bombarded with. We both come from relatively similar backgrounds, in that we grew up with similar religious beliefs, in a middle class American town, and we blessed with a university education. She has spend her time here gathering stories and perspectives, from various stand points. To hear what she has learned and her stance was a great introduction. Unfortunately her synopsis is that the more you know, the more difficult and cloudy the situation becomes.
After a 32+ hour marathon of travel connections I arrived in the Tel Aviv airport, just a little tired and disoriented. It was a glorious welcome to have most of my host family waiting for me at arrivals. I left the same family last year at the Amsterdam airport in a violent fit of tears, unsure when I would see their little faces again. I never imagined I would be lucky enough to see these nuggets so soon. As with all good friends, we picked up right where we left off, even though we were meeting a year later which is practically a lifetime in children world.
Last day with the family July 2013, and my how they have grown.
My glorious host family wasted no time getting me into the swing of things. Within the first couple days they had taken me to the Machane Yehuda Market, along with a couple more major shopping areas, Garden Tomb, Mediterranean Beach, as well as the Dead Sea. Unsurprisingly I needed a couple days to recover from transportation as well as travel.
So far Jerusalem has been everything I hoped it would be, and more. The neighborhood we’re staying in is “old” however new by Jerusalem standards, built in the 1800’s. There’s outdoor markets galore and just about everything is within walking distance, including the Old City which holds the holiest sites for Islam, Judaism, and Christian religions, as well as countless other old and significant sites. I may need another 6 weeks after this trip to process everything here, between the culture, history, and current politics.
I’m floating in the Dead Sea, I’m really floating!!!
Ah and just a year ago I thought the international adventures would be ending. Last week I dusted off my passport and got on a plane for Israel. Although seemingly random, the pieces seemed to fall into place, allowing this grand adventure to take place. So this is what went down. In case you didn’t know, or forgot, I spent 2012-2013 as a Nanny for a fabulous family in the Netherlands, outside of Rotterdam. That same family moved to Jerusalem, Israel, and we have kept in touch since the separation. During a wonderfully chaotic skype conversation, my host mom mentioned me coming out to help/visit. Ummm, YES!! Turns out she was serious. Just at that time I realized I could take the summer off work at the dance studio, and told Danielle I was game. A week later I had my tickets booked, and 3 months later, I’m here, in JERUSALEM!!! I’ll have 6 weeks in this destination, and considering the amount of significantly historical sites, that may be just enough time.