We have now reached the last few days of my Israeli journey. Phew! Are you still with me?
Our last few days were spent exploring thoroughly modern Tel Aviv.
Starting out in the ancient port city of Jaffa (which later became incorporated with Tel Aviv), we walked around the old streets looking at the plethora of art galleries and antique shops.
Also, apparently Jaffa is known for the city that Jonah was on his way to when he was swallowed by the whale. Thank you Wikipedia!
Speaking of which, it wasnâ€™t until the ass end of the trip did I finally discover my love for fresh squeezed pomegranate juice.
Thereâ€™s nothing like it in the states, you CANNOT find a bottled juice on the shelf which will taste like fresh squeezed. Itâ€™s really a shame.
And like with most things edible, I became obsessed!
Every time I saw a Pomegranate juice stand, I had to have one!
Mouth red, eyes crazed, hands stained. I was a madman!
We explored the Israeli outdoor market for a bit where I attempted to haggle down a leather bracelet until I realized that Israeliâ€™s donâ€™t really haggle. Thatâ€™s more an Arab thing.
We stopped for a quick bite ofâ€¦you guessed itâ€¦.chicken schwarma while my friend warned â€œWe tried walking down the Arab market but couldnâ€™t handle it. It was too much.â€
I had to go!!
I spy the Arab outdoor market and make my way down the stuffy, noisy, smelly, cramped walkways filled with gratuitous dates, bulbous figs, decadent halva and fresh baked bread.
After 15 minutes of snapping pics and losing 5 pounds of weight in sweat, I had to duck out of there.
At dinner, we listened to a UN Ambassador speak for a bit. Afterwards, we gave him a thank you bag of Canadian gifts (maple syrup, ect) which became the ritual after each of our guest speakers.
I soon began to panic, as each thank you gift was handed by an alternating member of our group.
I was terrified theyâ€™d pick me. My fear of public speaking is only outdone by my fear of heights.
When they finally did, I played the cough, sneeze, cough card, which worked splendidly.
As far as the actual dinner goes, I found it the least satisfying of the trip because I could taste nothing, so took advantage of not stretching my stomach for a night.
This was NOT a trip where one sheds pounds!
But I loved the mint tea and desserts!
We enjoyed our final dinner with the group (left my camera at home) where I apologized for appearing anti-social and unfriendly due to my persistent illness. I really felt like I hadnâ€™t really gotten to know anyone as I was usually crammed up against the bus window, creating my own cocoon of bacterium.
The next day I hung out with Audrey, Freddie and some local friends of theirs and we walked around the beautiful boardwalk and enjoying an oceanside lunch. I was over seafood, so I chose a spinach quiche.
Then we took a taxi to Dialouges in the Dark, a really unique museum that gives you the experience of being blind for an hour.
You enter a pitch black maze accompanied by walking sticks and are greeted by a blind guide. He then leads you through several situations where you can hear, smell and feel things but canâ€™t see a damn thing.
We walked through a park, on a boat, through a fruit market, crossing the street and then purchasing foods all using our walking sticks and following our guides voice.
Something I learned. Iâ€™d make an AWFUL blind person. Couldnâ€™t think of a worse curse.
After getting to the airport, my stomach suddenly found itself in my mouth. Or did my heart drop to my stomach?
Whatever organ displaced itself, I had some serious bad dÃ©jÃ vu coming over me .
Going through security.
Whadya know? I breezed through!
I even finagled my way out of my middle seat!!
Things were looking up.
Israel surprised me in many ways. I guess itâ€™s just easier to lump it into the Middle East and assume itâ€™s only a tiny country with a lot of problems.
Which it is. But theyâ€™re sure survivors!
Iâ€™ve never witnessed such ingenuity, self sufficiency and unity.
Theyâ€™ve really created a beautiful country that, against all odds, has thrived.
What an amazing trip. Thanks Audrey, Barry and Sara for letting me be part of something so unique and special.
And letting me eat my absolute freaking guts out. I ate two of everything. Like Noah collecting animals for his ark, two by two. No food would be left behind!