Isifiya and some Tel Aviv

My posts now have a habit of being long overdue. It’s because, surprisingly enough, I’m busy all the time. In my determination to make friends and see Israel I forget that I also need time for myself, of which I now have very little. In fact, though I don’t miss the intense stress of university, I do miss having so much me-time.

Before I get into the momentous events of the last week, I must being by stating the all-important news that today, for the first time ever (and after many years of trying), I succeeded in making my first intact omelette. Not numerous tasty, shapeless chunks of egg on my plate, but a full, round, delicious and very very pretty omelette. I am proud.

Now. On to the really juicy stuff. Last weekend, I went to Isfiya. Isfiya is a Druze village in the Carmel mountains. I couchsurfed (if, after reading this blog, you still haven’t logged onto couchsurfing.org and created a profile, you are missing out) in the most beautiful house – a veritable palace. I arrived Thursday evening, just as the sun was setting, and made myself supper and ate on the terrace that overlooks forest. I got to bed early enough, but was woken at 2am by 4 Americans banging on the door (I don’t know in what world it is appropriate to arrive at 2am).

Friday morning I met my hosts, who had been at a wedding the day before. A lovely couple with the most adorable 1 1/2 year old daughter. We had a nice chat and then our male host took me and the 4 Americans for a hike in the woods nearby – via the Bedouin region of the village. Because I am so smart, I hadn’t eaten breakfast or brought water with me, so everyone kindly stopped and let me recover for 10 minutes when I couldn’t breathe and started to get dizzy. Our male host then took us up into the village of Isfiya (his house is the last one outside the village) and we had a Druze lunch – a really tasty feast of labneh, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed cabbage leaves, eggplant in tomato sauce, pickled vegetables etc. The Americans then headed off to the beach and I headed up a hill to read.

It was on that hill, overlooking the house I was staying at, that about 8 Bedouin boys approached me. I had a bag of chips laying under a tree and one of the younger ones ran and grabbed it, not realizing it was mine. He was told off by the older boy, but I told them to have some and to finish what was in the bag. Then they asked me if I like “batata” and I said yes – assuming they were referring to the chips. Then they said “bye!” and disappeared, leaving me absolutely bewildered.

Ten minutes later they returned, a bag with batata in hand, and started building a fire. We sat around it together and ate potatoes and tomatoes, burning hot from the fire, and trying to communicate – I speak no Hebrew or Arabic, they spoke no English. We exchanged words, pointed at objects and said them in Arabic and English, took photos, and watched the younger boys play. I learned a new word – “khallas” – meaning “stop”, because the young boys kept throwing stones at each other.

Saturday morning I spent relaxing on the veranda of the house and in the afternoon I headed into the village just to walk around. It wasn’t very pretty and there wasn’t much going on. I went to a cafe run by Messianic Jews that supposedly has stuff going on on Saturdays, but when I arrived it was closing, so there wasn’t much to do. I wandered until I found a bench overlooking the valley and then sat there for a few hours, looking at the view and reading. It was lovely. I then hitch-hiked (for my first time ever!) into Haifa to catch the train back to Tel Aviv and move into my temporary lodgings for the last week of June.

Couchsurfing, once again, came to my rescue when a very nice host agreed to take me in for a week. He lives in an incredible bachelor pad in the Florentin neighbourhood. My week was then hectic: on Monday after work I went for drinks at Mike’s Place (seriously, don’t go there) with an Israeli-Arab dentist I met here a month ago, it was very interesting hearing a non-Israeli perspective in Israel and I find I’ve become more sympathetic to the Israeli sentiment of an existential threat (though that does not justify any violence) and more intolerant of the “mine” rhetoric on both sides. On Tuesday I went to see my friend’s sister who I mentioned when I first arrived in Israel, which was lots of fun, she was very chatty and smiley. Following that I met another friend’s sister here and we connected 🙂 she’s nerdy just like me. On Wednesday, I ate Israeli fast-food/street food with one of the Israeli girls I really like and then had delicious, delicious ice cream (really, the best ice cream in town!). On Friday, after my FINAL move to a place of my own in Jaffa, I met with a Spanish volunteer working with Israeli and Palestinian youth and then went to see some of the Israeli underground music seen at Levontin 7 (I don’t know the name of the place) with the sister-of-a-friend-I-connected-with.

There we go, another too-long-post 🙂 I do promise to try update more often so these boring long “I did this then this” posts don’t become a habit.

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