|Hey everyone! It's officially Orthodox Easter in the city of Jerusalem and my friends and I just got back from the Church of the Holy Seplechure (spelling?) to bring in the holiday with some style :) Seriously though, it was really cool. There were all things patriarchs from Greek Orthodox and Assyrian and Ethiopian and bascially all the Eastern churches, and they were carrying stuff and it was cool. These couple of days in Israel have been jammed pack with stuff going on, and I really wish I had more time here...
First day was in Tel Aviv. The city is really cool - its like Greenwich Village meets South Beach or something like that. I visited the Diaspora Museum that morning, and then went back to the hostel to get a quick bite to eat and then hit the beach. So, as I was eating my hummus and veggie sandwich, lo and behold, my temporary crown falls out. Of course! So my new goal has been to visit a dentist in every Mid Eastern country (iraq could be interesting...) Fortunately, with the help of my Mother looking up stuff at home, I got hold of a dentist in Tel Aviv who gave me a new temporary crown, but not before telling me it was loco to go to the dentis in cairo. Oh well. Despite the dental issue, I really liked Tel Aviv. It's kinda like a resort town.
Then, the next day I hopped in a "sherut taxi", a minibus sort of thing, to come to Jerusalem, which only took about 45 minutes. I met up with my dad's cousin Mark and family who happened to be in Jerusalem for the weekend and we walked around the Jewish quarter of the old city some. It was really busy this weekend because of the leftover people here because of Passover and because of Easter. So anyways, after I left the fam, I am walking down the street and run into a friend from NYU who is living in Jerusalem. Lucky for me, because she took me to her apartment which is in a really cool neighborhood that is a mix of orthodox jews and young hippyish kids. Also, she took me to the "shook" or market (not to be confused with the arabic word for market "suq") which was quite an experience, especially right before sabbath starts on friday evening.... That evening I got to go to dinner with Shira (the nyu friend) and her parents who were visiting for the holiday at a family friend's house. Now this family friend lives in a house on a hill right outside of the jewish quarter of the old city. Basically, it was an amazing view, especially when the sun starts to go down and you see the shadows cast on the wall...
So then today, I woke up, went to the 24 hour store, the only store that was opened around the hostel i was staying at, and then hiked up to the old city and in through the Damascus Gate to wander through the Muslim Quarter and practice my arabic only to be told by a dude that I talk like an egyptian. Anyway, the muslim quarter is hopping, yet not at all as bad as some stuff in cairo, but mainly there were just little stores selling various forms of junk. So I wandered around there, then wandered into the Christian quarter for a bit. I followed the Via Dolorossa (SPELLING!?!?!?) the path that Jesus carried the cross for a bit, but basically, its hard for me to follow one path without becoming distracted. The Old City is so cool with all is windy, cobble stone streets. I just cant imagine that people actually live in there to this day...
Anyway, post old city exploring, I ran into my friends, Thao and Anna, who were supposed to meet me Thursday night in Tel Aviv but never showed, and I was afriad that they got kidnapped in Lebanon. So that worked out well - that i found them and that they didnt get kidnapped.
What amazed me here is how different the Palestinians are from the Egyptians. I can walk around East Jerusalem (palestinian part) bymyself and not get hassled one bit. It's just basically the lack fo hassle that amazes me.... it feels so refreshing to be able to order a falafel and not get flirted with outrageously by the guy behing the counter.
Also, what has made a big impression on me here are all the soldiers with their guns. I mean, there are soldiers everywhere in Egypt, but this is different. These kids dressed in uniform could be my friends. They are the everyday teenager/20 year old. And sometimes they give their guns to their friends who aren't in uniform to "play around with". I have seen this a couple of times. Nuts.
Okay, I need to get some sleep because we have alot more to see.
I really really am loving Jerusalem - its a fun town.
Talk to ya later.