So I landed in Tel Aviv with no real problems on Thursday afternoon. On the flight itself I was sandwiched between to young Israelis, a 23 year old dude who had been working in kiosks and periodically road tripping throughout the states and a 17 year old girl who was visiting relatives in Brooklyn. Shay, the dude, was returning home after two years abroad to Ashdod, a newly minted Qassam town, and Lee was just with family for a short stay. Kind of thought it was weird when I asked her in Hebrew, "So, you're a senior in high school, then?" and she answered "Yeah, that age, but I'm not in school." Then she told us she was three months pregnant, engaged and מסודר, all set. Ummm. She showed us the nice rock on her ring finger and seemed pretty happy, it's what she wanted anyway since she stared dating him two years previously when she was 15 and he 22. Shay and I exchanged glances, but that was about it. Anyways, again, an overall pleasant flight sans the part where I didn't sleep a wink.
We took a bus straight to Ein Gedi, where we've been chillen since. I passed out at 10pm last night and got up on my own accord at 7:45am. Not too shabby. We had a full day of south Judean Desert hiking (all with spectacular views of the Dead Sea), so I figure to sleep real well tonight, too. Tomorrow will be a restful Shabbat and Sunday morning we're off to a satellite Ben Gurion Uni campus at Sde Boker, where our Ulpan (language intensive Hebrew courses will be held for one to two weeks). I dunno if the other 13 Ulpan students (the other 32 will be joining after Ulpan when Uni classes begin) feel this way, but I can't help but have this nagging thought of War in the back of my head even while we're on our nice, easygoing hikes. Especially when a seven year old was seriously injured yesterday when a Grad rocket packed with shrapnel penetrated his skull in Be'er Sheva, the city where I still very much hope to spend my semester.
On a less serious note, the Ulpan crew is 14 people including me, with 12 Americans, one Finlandian who goes to college in Sweden, and one Dutchman. Dude from Sweden is named Bo. That's awesome. In English and in Hebrew. 'Bo, bro, whattup. How you doin.' and in Hebrew, 'Bo, bo l'po,' or just 'Bo, bo.' (Bo = come/come here)
We're going to go to the Kibbutz pub tonight. It is Shabbat, so there is no bus service, but it's open, because Friday night in non-religious Israel is a bar night (equivalent to a Saturday night in the states). So we will uphold the Sabbath by walking to the bar, and then break Her prohibitory words by purchasing beer. Listen, religion is a struggle. Don't worry, pops, I'm working on it. Don't worry, ma, I won't drink too much.
Until next time,