Friday, July 2, 2010

Lost In Jerusalem

Lost in Jerusalem...not necessarily a bad thing, but first, let me explain about the picture that accompanies this post.

Those of you who know me well, know how much I love my iced coffee. It is my biggest pleasure to get a large one with just a splash of cream and some Splenda. I had heard that they don't have Splenda in Israel so I brought a pretty hefty supply with me. What I didn't know is that the iced coffee leaves a lot to be desired. Asking for iced coffee here will get you a sugary concoction that resembles a frapuccino. When I ask for coffee with ice, I get a shot of hot coffee with two ice cubes and the rest of the cup filled with milk. The cost for a small one (the only size they have) is more than a large at Starbucks! During my wanderings this week, I found the only Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Israel and, great news, they make iced coffee my way! I won't be able to go there often but it's nice to know that it's here if I need it.

I have now been in Jerusalem for a month. While I still don't feel like it's home, I am much more comfortable, both at school and navigating around the City. But I had a whopper of an experience this week.

I usually walk to and from school. There is a long hill on the way that causes a lot of havoc with my back so I have started taking the bus up the hill and then walking the rest of the way. The incline on the way home isn't as bad so I walk the entire way back. One day this week I decided to take the bus all the way to Machane Yehuda (the large outdoor market selling fruits, vegetables and tons of other things). There is a coffee shop there that opens early so I got coffee and a roll and then took a second bus to school. It didn't take long and I enjoyed the experience.

The next day I decided to do it again. This time I wasn't paying attention and got onto the 22 bus instead of the 32. BIG MISTAKE. The 22 doesn't go to Machane Yehuda and I didn't notice until we were well into one of the ultra-religious parts of town. I got off the bus and began to walk. I had no idea where I was going so I approached two young boys who couldn't have been more than 11 or 12. One boy actually turned away from me and the other refused to speak to me. I had forgotten that religious boys/men will not associate with me! I kept walking and walking and everyone I asked gave me different directions. I finally was directed to a bus whose driver told me he would come near HUC. He told me to sit behind him and he would let me know where to get off. Well, we kept going and going and going. We passed the area I felt was near HUC but the driver didn't say anything so I figured that he would eventually turn around and I would get to the right place. As we were leaving the city of Jerusalem (!), the driver turned to me and said, "where did you want to get off?" When I told him, he said "oy" and apologized for forgetting me. He gave me a transfer and told me to go to the other side of the street and get on the bus there. When I asked him if that bus would get me to school, he said it wouldn't but would get me close. The place he said it would take me was around the corner from my house! I had spent two hours in one huge circle. By this time, I was almost late for school so I just flagged down a taxi. Usually, this would be a fine solution but this driver decided to take three other passengers. The last one who got in wanted to go to the Knesset which is at the other end of town and he took her there first! Finally, I made it to school and was only 15 minutes late - I felt that I had been wandering for days.

And the best part of this event? Well, there are a couple of good outcomes. The first is that I did not cry or lose my composure. I just took it as an adventure. The second is that I was able to relate most of this story to my teacher IN HEBREW! It may not have been grammatically correct but she got the gist of what I was saying. Hooray for me!

The next day, I was determined to get back on the bus just to prove that I could do it. I correctly got onto the 32 but, after several blocks, our bus driver hit a man on a bicycle. The way that people drive here, I'm surprised that it doesn't happen more often!

Another week awaits. This will be the last week of our pre-Ulpan and the rest of the students are beginning to arrive. We will have several days off (when I will try and speed read my way back through the Hebrew we have learned during the past month) and then the year in Israel program officially begins. In addition to Hebrew, I will be taking Torah Trope for the rest of the summer and I'm really excited about that.

On Sunday, we are all getting together to celebrate July 4th with a bbq at Liberty Bell Park. It will be fun to do something "American" for awhile.

Shabbat Shalom and Shavua Tov to all!


  1. When I was in Israel, on July 4th, a bunch of us went to a concert... who was playing?. Paul Simon. Matter of fact, some how, I don't remember, I got to meet him after the concert.

  2. Welcome to Israel!

    And yes, I also learned the hard way that "iced coffee" here is not what we know it to be in America. If you order קפה קר, "cold coffee," you should get something closer... *most* places will have it. :)

  3. It sounds like you're making great progress on so many levels--confidence, coffee, and conversation! I love that you were able to look on your experience as an adventure. I'm just hoping you have great experiences that don't involve getting lost from now on. :)