Am Yisrael Chai! (Israel Travelogue V)

On Thursday Shirah and I met up at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and walked from there to catch a Sherout (I’m sure that my transliteration is off) over to Nazareth. A Sherout is a cheaper, mini-bus-esque alternative ride for those who wish to save a few shekels.

On the way to Nazareth, at a certain point, if you look off into the distance, from the side of the mountain that you’re traveling on, you can see a wonderful patchwork of farms and agriculture – in the dessert, often shown to us in Western Media as being comprised of bones and barren, Israelis have succeeded in creating life (in so many ways); vineyards, and trees, and vegetables all grace the land in a wonderful monochromatic display of defiance against the elements (much like the personality of the natives: success against all odds).

Nazareth is heavily populated with Arabs, and the majority of signs are in Arabic (which was nice, as it let me put my site reading skills to use – this trip, has been incredibly humbling for me, as a soon to be graduated linguist). As we waited at a crossing, I was staring out the window trying to take in all of my surroundings and an old man saw me looking at him through my window and he waved at me and smiled, so I waved and smiled back. He was sitting in front of a coffee shop, a grey fedora on his head, just enjoying the day as he looked at all the people traveling through his town.

Arriving in Nazareth, I was surprised to find that it’s far more hilly than I imagined, but it is beautiful (all of the buildings are a vibrant white). Fabulous Condos are found populating Nazareth Ilit and construction is taking place all over Israel, renovations, restorations and new construction are abound…and it’s a great thing to see such positive growth in the Holy Land.

In Nazareth Ilit, if you ride the bus you get the added bonus of British Humor: rotaries are everywhere and when coupled with Israeli Drivers you get a medically accurate test for heart function.

From Nazareth we headed to Tiberias and made our way to the apartment-esque building that Shirah was staying in (a converted hostel that Oranim is currently using to house their Volunteers). After depositing our bags, we walked down city streets that were inviting with pagodas lining the sides, and music playing as small children danced while others ate ice cream or had their face painted and problems (at least, temporarily) are forgotten by all who walk through this wonderful town.

Walking down, making our way through all the vendors and sloped steps, we climbed over a fence, and made our way, walking across a sand bar, to lay on rocks and look up at the stars. Shirah and I spent a couple of hours relaxing. star gazing, and talking about life as we were surrounded by the Kinnert (also known as the Sea of Galilee). As we were getting ready to return to her place of abode a party boat drove by…with religious, Jewish, techno-remixes of all our favorite songs that we sing at synagogue…quite a party.

Next to the hostel are two twenty-four hour bakeries, one serving loafs of bread (usually for no more than a shekel a loaf) and the other selling pastries by weight (here, even cheaper than the previous bakery!). I had to walk by both regularly on my way to explore, and made a semi-successful attempt to hold my breath for fear of catching the scent of tantalizing food that can only serve to increase my waist size.

Shabbat was spent in quiet reflection and discussion with Shirah as we talked and planned out the next phases of where our lives and academics were going to take each of us, both of us bouncing ideas off of the other. Sunday morning we walked back down to the Kinneret and I saw a woman fishing off of the side to which one can only really remark “if you teach a (wo)man how to fish…”

Saturday night Shirah and I went out to experience some of the night life as we danced the night away at one of the local pubs where we were able to meet up with some fellow friends from Buffalo and I ran into the group of teenage girls that don’t think I speak English despite it being the only language I communicated with them in…it was a wonderful night, with all the local hits being spun by one of their resident DJs. On Sunday, Shirah and I made our way to the beach front, and I walked to the Kinnert and stood in it…and sadly, I must have been wearing the wrong brand of sandals, because I couldn’t walk on it.

Eventually, Shirah and I had to part ways and I made my way down to Meggido and then back to Tel Aviv where I spent two, wonderful, sun filled days at the beach, drifting in and out of sleep as I watched the waves crash on the Mediterranean shore.

Tonight I am sleeping, once again in Jerusalem. This time at a wonderful hostel called the Citadel Youth Hostel, which is built into the walls of Jerusalem providing a wonderful and cool rocky interior for the weary traveler.

Until Next Time, Am Yisrael Chai!

– M