A Tel Aviv Week

This last week has been crazy – hence the lack of updates.

In my loneliness, I have resorted to couchsurfing.org (a great site, by the way) to make friends. I wrote to about 50 people – expecting very few responses – to see if anyone wanted to go to coffee with me. It is a testament to the Israeli people and how friendly and welcoming they are that I got over 30 responses. So now, I’m struggling to keep track of who is available when and I should get in touch with etcetera.

On Sunday I met couchsurfing respondent 1, a very sweet young Israeli man who recently got out of going to the army. We went for dinner at Buddha Burgers (I don’t recommend the restaurant, my meal was no good) and had a long chat. It was a lovely way to end my work day (yes, Sunday here is a work day). I don’t know if I’ll see him again.

On Monday one of my bosses was kind enough to invite me to sit in on a meeting with a senior US official. It was great to see both the tools that the organization has at hand (the most amazing GIS map of the West Bank I’ve seen. Well, the only one, but still amazing) and to hear what the American interests and opinions were behind closed doors. As if that wasn’t great enough, Monday night I rode to a Geneva Initiative talk with the Swiss Special Envoy to the Middle East (I didn’t know who he was until after, good thing too or I’d have been a lot more nervous and a lot less chatty) and then I got to hear Bernard Kouchner, Yossi Beilin and Saeb Erekat speak on the topic “The Road to September.” I felt Kouchner said nothing new or fascinating, but Erekat was wonderful to listen to because of his energy and emotional outbursts that had the audience clapping mid-speech (you can get the gist of what he said in Haaretz’s coverage last Tuesday), and Beilin was great to hear too.

On Tuesday after work (and work is always fun, by the way. And the kitchen at work is always amazingly stocked, by the way) I went to see Love History screen at Docaviv – the Tel Aviv Documentary Film Festival – with a very sweet American girl I met when she visited the apartment (I’m looking to move somewhere cheaper, so the roommate is searching for potential other roommates). The film itself was more than a let down (or as my boss said, “I saw that. It was terrible!”) and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. But it was followed by a long walk home with Jessica and interesting conversation (we have some VERY different views on the current situation – Zionist versus Pro-Palestinian).

On Wednesday, I finally sat down and talked a little with my boss. He is SO lovely, so kind and soft-spoken. I also can’t wait to sit down and talk about more work-related stuff (the first talk was him getting to know me essentially) because he’s absolutely brilliant too. I’m learning so much just going through his archives! After work, I spent half an hour trying to find where the bus stop to catch the bus to Jaffa was. In true, tourist form, the bus stop was only 5 minutes from the office, maybe even less. At the Jaffa clock tower (which is so pretty) I met with couchsurfing respondent 2. We walked down the promenade a little and had a drink (or really, in my case, a grapefruit juice) while watching the sun set. It wasn’t clear, in fact, the last week hasn’t been clear and there’s been this sort of wall of brown around the city. I initially thought it was pollution, but last night I found out it was sand from sand storms! All of a sudden, it’s a lot less gross and frustrating, and a lot more AMAZING! Anyhow, this was followed by a little walk up into old Jaffa that gave a view of the city and a bus ride home.

Every day this week, I haven’t been home before 9pm. Today, exhausted, I ended up napping at work and cancelling on couchsurfing respondent 3 because I just can’t do it! I need some down time – after all, the next few days promise to be just as hectic as the last few.

I promise, in the next posts, there will be photos.

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