Thursday Night/Friday EARLY morning: After a long day of work we got on the bus and headed back to Arad because the night was going to be very, very busy and we had a sherut (like a taxi minivan) picking us up at 6:30 for the night and usually our bus doesn't get back to our place until around 6:15 and we still had to share... a tight squeeze. Just our luck, there was a detour in the road and we had to go the long way back home, about 45 minutes out of the way and literally in the middle of no where. Seriously, if you could imagine the middle of no where, that's where we were. There were no other cars, no buildings, no lights, no telephone poles, just a long, long road. We even came upon this mysterious big factory that we all think is where nuclear weapons are made: in the desert in the middle of no where, a perfect location
. So, back to the real story, we finally arrive to our apartments, or should I say the absorption center, at about 6:45, we were way late. Let me first go over the plans for tonight. We are suppose to be joining some of our fellow Section 3 friends in taking a bus trip up to Tsvat, the old religious city of Israel located way in the North. There, from around the times of 12-6 in the morning we'd be walking around the city and see the religious things going on (between the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur there is a lot of late night praying and reading of the torah going on, these are perhaps the 10 most intense days and nights ever for any religious Jew). We were pretty excited, looking forward to a good religious experience, something we haven't really quite experienced yet.
So anyway, back to the story, we rushed upstairs, took showers, got our things for the weekend and head back to the sherut; all in 10 minutes. We got into the sherut and started to head up north to meet up with a charter bus filled with all of the people from the Tel Aviv area. Our driver got a little lost when trying to find these other people who we were suppose to pick up and overall we arrived in Tel Aviv about an hour and a half late, not good for a scheduled late night activity. We then get in the bus and head up towards Tsvat, a nice 5 ½ hour drive added on to the already 2 ½ hours we drove, all totaling a good 8 hours of driving already for that night, not something I was too happy about
. Since we were running late, we arrived to Tsvat about 2 hours late. We pulled up to this hostel that runs late night programs like this for people who want to walk through the religious city late at night and what not. We get in, they give us some snacks, have a guy named "Banjo Billy" (a religious man from Australia playing the banjo) play for us to wake us up, and then we head back out to the buses to go to select places in the city. Our first stop was to this extremely old synagogue, old as in there were only some columns left of it, that was the first synagogue set up in the city of Tsvat and we read some history about it while up there. After that, we walked down to this building where this important Rabbi was buried. Turns out he was one of the only Rabbi's left surviving after a certain battle (I apologize, I don't know exact details... it was 3 in the morning and I was too exhausted at the time to pay close attention) and he helped to keep the Jewish people going. In other words, this was a very religious place and people sit in here for 10 straight days (in between the two holidays) reading the torah and praying and doing all of that hard core religious stuff that I will probably never participate in. We then quickly headed back into the bus, keep in mind we were already about 2 hour behinds schedule so they were rushing us a lot) and headed into the city to take a tour of some of the different synagogues located in it (which included the religious people inside who were doing their 10 day long praying)
. We walked around, we were tired, we weren't too happy because all of us were told the night would be a little bit different then how it really was. Eventually we headed back to the buses that were going to either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, in my case Tel Aviv. The night was overall ok, I wouldn't do it again but I was glad I did it to get a more religious view on some things. They had informed us it was be differently so it was a little disappointing but I think the fact that everyone was running so late definitely ruined a lot of the plans. So once we arrived into Tel Aviv, at around 8 in the morning, I joined my friends Sara and Natalie and we headed to their apartment in Ramat Gan (I was also there last Thursday) because I was going to be spending the entire weekend with them. We got to their apartment and all of us just completely crashed and went to sleep, we were all so exhausted.
Friday/Saturday Morning: Well, low and behold we all slept until around 4 in the afternoon. I mean we didn't get home until around 9:30 and had been walking around the entire night so it was completely understandable for the late sleep in. At that point we just made some food and started making plans with people on what to do for the night. Tonight's activities were decided to be taking place at the lovely port in Tel Aviv. Around dinner time we were extremely hungry but it wasn't time to meet up with everyone at the port yet so us ladies just decided to head down there early and go eat dinner
. We had a very nice and delicious dinner at this one restaurant and just talked and hung out for about 2 hours until everyone else came. The other ladies came, a couple of Brits and my fellow Texas (it was pretty much a ladies night out) and we looked around for a good club to go to and came upon the club TLV. It's a huge club and tonight it looked packed and like the place to go... perhaps it was because it was soldier night: 18 and older could get in for a very cheap price. We got in there and the place was definitely packed, especially with soldiers. Now, we all know how the Israeli soldier men are, some can be nice and fun but a lot of them are really sketchy and what not, I mean they have been stuck in the army for 3 years in a row, what more could you really expect. So all of us ladies made a pact that we'd stay together for the night and watch out for each other, thank goodness we did. We danced the night away, occasionally the typical sketchy Israeli man would come up and try to dance with you, but with our great ladies system we were always able to get the guys away. There was one point where all of us were dancing together in a circle and all of a sudden an Israel guy was behind each of us, making a circle of them right behind us and all of us didn't know what to do and just started laughing really hard at the entire situation of these guys slowly forming a circle around us and closing in closer on us. We were able to form a chain and one of the girls found a hole and we all headed towards the bathroom, it was definitely a good laugh though. So after dancing the night away, until about 5 in the morning, we finally decided it was time to leave and headed back to all of our separate destinations, in my case back with Natalie and Sara to their apartment in Ramat Gan. The night was definitely very successful, I'm really starting to like and get into the whole Israeli clubbing scene: dancing, late nights, laughing and so much more. Once we got to the girls apartment, like the night before, we just completely crashed
Saturday: After sleeping in until about 4 in the afternoon again, we decided today was a good day for relaxing and going to the beach. We all headed to the beach, in Tel Aviv, and when we got there we just laid out, played in the sand and the water and had a very nice relaxing time there, the weather was perfect. We were only able to stay for a couple of hours but after that we took a bus back to the apartments and got ready for another night out. Our nights lately had all been long, fun, but still long and crazy so tonight we were hoping for more of a calm night. We still headed out to the port, but on Saturday nights, unlike America, it isn't really the crazy going out nights for Israelis, those nights are mainly Thursday nights before the Sabbath, so it was really just about 15 of us (all year coursers) and we just sat on the deck at this one club/restaurant and listened to the DJ and just relaxed and hung out, it was definitely a nice time being able to not be moving around a lot and just sitting back. We then headed back home at an actual decent hour because tomorrow was going to get intense: Yom Kippur!
Sunday: Today we woke up at around 11 and my good friend Sara and I thought that the visit to the beach yesterday wasn't long enough, so we decided to go for longer today. Now the plans for tonight's holiday was to go to Natalie's Aunt's house for dinner, but Natalie had to leave to go there in the morning, so after the beach Sara and I were just going to join her; or so we thought
. We arrive to the beach, once again it was very nice weather and we were able to spend more time there and there were even less people on the beach since everyone was getting ready for Yom Kippur so it was nice. Now, another little factoid for you, Yom Kippur is the holy of all the holy days in the Jewish religion, it's beyond intense. So intense that no one, and I literally mean no one, drives during the holiday; there are no taxi's, no buses, no cars, the roads are completely empty. So Sara and I left a little bit before the empty streets would begin and we took a taxi back to her apartment. We were going to get dressed and take another taxi to Natalie's Aunt's house but, low and behold that time rolled around for when the driving stopped and we were unable to find a ride, at all. Very disappointed, because we were looking forward to an excellent home cooked meal, Sara and I were alone in the apartment and had absolutely no clue what to do. They weren't exactly highly stocked up on food since it was the weekend and we had to have some kind of filling meal because we were about to have to fast for a good 24 hours (during Yom Kippur, you fast and just relax for the entire holiday because it's all about repenting and thinking about what you have done over the year in order for you to ask God for forgiveness on this day). The sun was about to set (when Yom Kippur officially begins) and we turned into desperate mode and pulled out anything in the kitchen that was still edible. We ended up actually cooking up a pretty good meal composed of spaghetti, tuna, soup, water and that's about it; don't be too jealous. We were just happy that we were able to actually feel full and not have to end up starving ourselves before the 24 hours of not eating. Afterwards we didn't exactly no what to do with ourselves since it was just us two because everyone else in the girls apartment had gone to their separate places along with the guys apartment. We just sat around some, put on some music, danced and sang and then all of a sudden the door bell rang. With no clue as to who it would be, we answered and there was a great surprise: 3 of the guys from the guys apartment (their names being Jon, Ryan and David) all of whom I was good friends with because they were on my bus last year for the Israel trip. They too weren't able to catch a ride to where they were suppose to go and so they came over to our apartment to see if we were home and we were, so it was exciting to have some friends over! We all just hung out and then decided it was time to go play in the streets. Since there is no one driving, no cars, no nothing, the streets are FULL with little children playing, kids on bicycles, families just sitting out in lawn chairs hanging out, and friends catching up on good times. So we all went out there and just walked around on the highway, yes that's right the highway, with hundreds of other people, wishing we had a bicycle to ride around with and what not. It was definitely a lot of fun to see this kind of lifestyle because the roads in the U.S. definitely don't shut down for such a holiday. Afterwards we then went over to the boys apartment, just hung out, sat around, got a little crazy from the lack of food and then we ended up just sleeping over there. Definitely hard to go to sleep on an empty stomach but the fact that you couldn't hear all of the traffic outside and what not help aide a very good nights rest.
Monday: An ultimate lazy day as I'd like to call it. With no food in your system for 24 hours, it's hard to want to move around or anything, so that's exactly what we didn't do... move around. I woke up at about 6:30 for some odd reason, got on the internet for about an hour (because the boys bought their own wireless internet, so it's actually fast) and then went back to bed. I then didn't wake up until about 3:30 and when I woke up the guys were already all awake, just laying in the living room area wishing they had some food. We decided, to occupy our time, that we should just watch a movie and hopefully that would keep our minds off of food for the next 3 hours which was when we'd have break fast! We decided to watch the movie "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". I've never seen it before so it gave me quite a scare along with some of the other boys, but it did manage to get food off the brain. Then, along came the sunset and it was finally time to eat! The first thing we ate for our break fast was grilled cheese sandwiches (now please keep in mind there was a very, very, very limited supply of food at their apartment because usually people are gone during the weekends so you don't want to have food that will go bad... just keep that in mind DAD when thinking of what we ate first) and they were perhaps the best grilled cheese sandwiches I've ever eaten. Afterwards the guys had to go leave to travel to their friends house so Sara and I walked back to her apartment. There we just sat around, waited for Natalie to get home and once she did we just hung out some more. I was suppose to get a ride back to Arad because I had work the next morning, but since it was a holiday, the bus rides were limited and I just decided to leave early the next morning with Micah and these two other girls who live in Arad.
Tuesday Morning: Woke up nice and early, took a taxi cab to the Tel Aviv bus station, then took a bus to Jerusalem where I met up with Micah and the other girls. We all then took a bus ride to En Gedi and right off the bus Micah and I were off to work. Mom, dad, you should be proud of me. I traveled all alone and I even had to call up the bus station to get times and I got my own taxi... your little girl is growing up so much! Anyway, the weekend, overall, was a huge success. I had absolutely no complaints about anything, loved the "Israel experience" and the holidays were great. That's it for this entry, its way too long already, but more updates later! Happy holidays once again and peace to all.
Weekend of the September 28th-October 2nd: this weekend's holiday... YOM KIPPUR (the holiday for forgiveness and repenting)