On Friday evening I went out with some people from work to a club called Einstein. All the fun places (bars) here seem to be located around the university, and on Friday the dance floor in Einstein was crowded with young people from the BG University. They only allow students into dance, and because of my unfortunate incident with my wallet before Christmas, I don’t have a student card. A friend had to talk me into the club, but after that it was a nice evening that went on until 3:30 am …
The rest of the weekend I worked and tried to catch some sleep. You know, having an exciting time and all that.
But yesterday I had an early start again with Nora and Tatiana as we took the 7:20 morning bus from Beersheva to Jerusalem to go to a conference for ALL the volunteers in Israel. The day started out by Nora going to the holocaust museum Yad Vashem at 10am with her German volunteering organization, and Tatiana and I spent a couple of hours hanging around downtown Jerusalem, shopping and eating, of course. I found some new pants at Castro, a popular clothing store around here, and now I also have something else to read than just the Bible, as I bought a book of Israeli short stories by different authors.
Jerusalem looks SO different in the winter than in the summer, and it also doens’t seem to be the same Jerusalem that I visited 4 years ago. Well first of all it was only around +5 degrees and it was raining. Very different than +30 with scortching sun. Secondly, during winter time you don’t see too many tourists around the hoods, while in the summertime you wouldn’t know if you were in USA, Japan or Germany from all the tourists. Thirdly, they had built a lightrail that goes around the city, and which has just opened in 5 months ago. The lightrail gives the city a more modern look. But it still is the same Jerusalem in the sense that when you enter the city the people look totally different than in other cities in Israel. It’s like going back in time a couple hundred years. You know, breathing all old traditions and looking orthodox. And I didn’t even go to the Old City, where people of even more ancient traditions dwell in.
After finding me some interesting fiction in the bookstore, it was time for Tatiana and me to head out to Yad Vashem too, where I’d meet with people from my Finnish volunteering organization. I got to meet with the coordinator and some nice volunteers from other places in Israel, and it was fun and a bit odd to speak Finnish again. My brain has been coping with the English-Hebrew-Russian input-output for a month now with only a couple of Finnish skyping breaks in between. It’s funny how quickly you start sounding different in your mother tongue after using other languages for awhile… Anyway, Yad Vashem was stunning as usual. It is the museum for holocaust remembrance and WWII, so if this type of history is interesting to you, you should definitely check it out if you ever get to visit Jerusalem. It has pictures, biographical stories of Jewish families who survived and didn’t survive, historical details about the Germans, items found from all concentration camps, video recordings of survivors, etc., room after room. Very impressive, sad and depressing, and I think the museum has done an incredibly good job putting together everything to preserve the sad memory of the holocaust.
After the museum it was time to head out to the Ramat Rachel Hotel for the conference held to honor all us volunteers. The meeting took place in a big auditorium of the hotel, altough it wasn’t big enough, because there were so many volunteers that eventually most of us sat on the stairs. There were volunteers from South Korea, Germany, USA, Canada, France, Finland, Ethiopia, the Netherlands, Columbia … I can’t even remember all the countries and nationalities represented there. The programme for the evening included speeches made by representatives of the volunteering unit, even by the Ambassador of Columbia in Israel, as well as dancing, singing and music performances. It was all very relaxed and fun, and it was nice to see how many people have dedicated some time from their lives to helping out Israel. Unfortunately, during the whole day I didn’t take a single picture, so you’ll just have to imagine what the day was like. Sorry, life’s tough.
By 7pm, we (Nora, Tatiana and I) were in the bus heading back to Beersheva, and by 10 I was in bed sleeping. I was quite exhausted by the early wake-up and all the excitement of the day.
I don’t want to make you jealous or anything (sf*), but in a couple of months I’ll be meeting up with the Finnish volunteers again and we’ll be taking a two night desert trip that includes riding camels and donkeys, sleeping in a real Bedouin tent and eating real Bedouin food. Just thought I’d let you know.
* sf = sarcasm font