The Inimitable Israel  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , ,

Here I am again, blogging. It is 11:30 PM local time, and my parents are apparently just going along with it, while I am staying up and writing about my day.

Everything seems to be blurring into one day. And if it all is one day, it has certainly been a very long one. The last minute packing, the ride to the airport, the long flight, the ride to Maalot Dafna (during which I understood why you have to be wary of Israeli drivers), the search for the right apartment, the unpacking, the five hour nap (which disoriented me very much), and then the actual adventures.

Our first mini-adventure (if you can even call it that) was before the nap. My father and I went out to find a grocery store in order to buy water bottles. Somewhere along the way (we actually didn't know the way), I asked an Israeli woman, "Efo hamakolet?" That, my friends, was the first time I used Hebrew out of necessity and not just because I wanted to. So yay for me.

I was almost falling down from exhaustion at that point, so once we returned home, it was time to finally go to sleep. I woke up five hours later, confused and disoriented. My watch told me it was eleven. But eleven what? AM? PM? NY time? Israel time? I soon learned that it was past 6 PM in Israel.

I somehow pulled myself together by 7 PM and my father and I went to the Kotel for maariv. I had exchanged some of my US dollars for shekels in Ben Gurion, so I equipped myself with both currencies, and we set off.

Traffic came to a halt as we neared the Kotel, so my father and I decided to walk the rest of the way. There were cobbled steps and walls everywhere, and the view beyond was magnificent:

There were signs along the way announcing that it was forbidden to walk on the Temple Mount, and I thought about the story of Rabbi Akiva, who rejoiced because G-d would fulfill His promise to rebuild it and restore it to its former glory.

We went through security, emerging as it was growing dark outside, and there was the Western Wall. My father joined the men for maariv, while I made my way through the women's section, going closer and closer until I was finally able to touch the ancient stones. I was there for a while, and finally rejoined my father.

Our general plans for the evening were to visit the Kotel and then go back to Maalot Dafna in order to relax, unpack, and get some more sleep. But it seemed a pity to waste such a beautiful evening. The sun had gone down, it was not as hot as before, and there was a pleasant breeze. So I decided it would be a good idea to walk around Jerusalem and check out the little souvenir shops and other interesting places.

As we were walking, we saw people getting onto a crowded bus. There was a man in a blue uniform ushering them on, and he yelled at a woman standing next to the back door to go on at the front of the train because there was room there. She replied that she could not do that because her children were already on the bus in the back, so he yelled back at her, "Az tishari bachutz!" (Then stay outside!)

Finally, my father and I found where I could spend my money. Let me tell you.... Those Israelis really know how to make money. And I do not mind at all that I spent nearly all the shekels I had gotten at the airport, because it was so worth it. I am trying to remember when was the last time I got to bargain like that. Probably in Chinatown or in California's Olvera Street. This, however, was more fun than any of the other places. I did not want to buy as much as I did, but they were so insistent and kept lowering the prices, and I did end up getting many little things by which to fondly remember Israel and its shops.

The first time I used Israeli currency was at a little stand near the Kotel. The man gave me his price and as I was rummaging through my wallet, I asked my father, "Are shekels those little papers I got or the coins?" He tried not to laugh at me. I think I figured out the currency by now though, and can shop with a bit more confidence than before.

I would probably have spent another hour (and many more shekels) walking around Jerusalem, but it was time to return to our apartment. We hailed a taxi, got in, and got to once again experience the way Israeli taxis work. When our driver could barely pass through on a narrow street because another taxi had stopped right in the middle, he yelled at the driver of the other taxi in Hebrew. I did not understand what he was saying or what the other driver retorted, but our driver muttered to us afterward, "Slicha." (I want to use Hebrew letters when writing Hebrew words, but I need to change some settings on this laptop I'm working from.)

Overall, I had an interesting, fun day.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at Tuesday, August 04, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Soooo jealous, in a good way, of course.

August 4, 2009 at 8:10 PM

There's a currency exchange place on the corner of Yaffa street and Ben Yehuda. Kinda looks like a hot do stand, but used to give good rates. Count the money though after getting an exchange.

August 5, 2009 at 12:57 AM


(Even if I did count the money, I probably wouldn't know how whether it was correct or not.)

August 8, 2009 at 5:32 PM

Obviously the coins are part of the Shekel Hadash currency. The coins are "Agorot". I used to think it had to do with the fact that "le'egor" means to "collect" in Hebrew, but it turns out that it's named after the coins the Judeans used, which were Greek/Roman. Agora is derived from the Greek word for shopping...

August 8, 2009 at 11:19 PM

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