Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 21: Jerusalem (Nachlaot)

The rest of my trip to Israel went fairly smoothly - Miriam got to JFK around 3:30 in the afternoon, so from that point on I was pretty entertained. She was staffing the flight for a group of NFTY kids going on EIE, which meant that we were traveling with 26 teenagers, most of whom assumed that I was also working for NFTY. I did the best I could to help out without having any actual authority or desire to control the group, so mostly I just answered questions and looked reassuring. One of the teens managed to misplace his passport (it was in his carry-on, which the flight attendants took from him at the gate and checked) and I stuck with him through the process of recovering it while Miriam took the rest of the kids through passport control and baggage claim. Once she turned them over to the NFTY in Israel staff we were free to go, so I hopped into a sherut (a shared van service), and was off on my way from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

I'm sure the drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is pretty, but I slept through the whole thing, so I actually have no idea. Maybe next time...

Sharon had e-mailed me directions to her apartment, so I knew generally where I was going, but not entirely. I had just paid the sherut driver and gotten all of my stuff together when I heard some of the best words I've heard in a while - "Excuse me, are you Naomi?" Yonatan (Sharon's boyfriend, who was meeting me at her apartment) had actually just arrived, and happened to see me on the sidewalk with all of my luggage and took a wild guess. I have never been so happy to be recognized by another human being.

Thursday afternoon is a bit of a blur - I spent time relaxing with Sharon and Yonatan in her apartment in Nachlaot, and then we went to spend some time with friends of theirs who happen to be leaving Israel tomorrow.

On Friday I had a beautiful first-real-day-in-Jerusalem experience. Sharon and I slept in a little, and then spent our morning doing some shopping at the shuk. We bought all sorts of lovely things - fruits and vegetables, bread, cheese, and some of the best ice cream I've eaten in a while. We also picked up some herbs at a flower shop down the street from Sharon's apartment, so now she has mint, basil, thyme, and zatar for tea and cooking and eventually for pesto.

Today has been a lovely, relaxing day - we slept in (I'm still catching up on rest from the journey!), and cooked breakfast, and then watched an episode of Top Chef. I have no idea what we'll be up to this evening, or what I'll be up to tomorrow, but I know tomorrow night I'll be going to a Pardes meet-the-students event, which should be really nice!

I don't think the reality of the situation has caught up with me yet - the fact that I live here now, and that I'll be staying for ten months. It all feels a little surreal.

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