Wednesday, April 2, 2014


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Jaffa at sunset
Traveling is sort of like entering a dream. Or time traveling, where you open a book and it magically transports you to another place. But when you come home, everything is in its place the way you left it, even though you feel different somehow, like you've had adventures and are stepping out of a hazy dream. And you feel like things should have changed with you, to reflect where you have been, except the dishes are still in the dishwasher, the glass is there, where you last placed it, and everything acts as if no time has passed at all.

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Stones on the beach
If you could enter a dream, Israel is not a bad place to start. It was the Sabbath when we arrived in Tel Aviv, at one in the morning, and we promptly went to sleep until sometime mid day. Then we started walking, because we were hungry and didn't want to pay the 55 dollars a person for Shabbat lunch at our hotel.

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The call to prayer

We bought food at a open air café crowded with people. It took us a bit to understand the protocol. We were politely considering where the non existent line might be in the swarm of people so we could properly queue up, except others kept shoving in front of us waving their orders. Chris finally got down to business and elbowed his way to the counter to order our shawarma. A little word about shawarma. It's kind of like a burrito, but only in the way that a beaver is like a unicorn. They both have four legs I guess. First they stuff a pita with things like hummus, pickled onions and beets, cabbage, and tahini dressing. Then, they take meat that has been slowly cooking on a spit and thinly shave off pieces to stuff into the pita.  I wish I could properly describe exactly how wonderful it was, but imagine entering your happy place in a chariot of spices, and it was sort of like that.

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Old Jaffa
The weather was gorgeous and the beach was crowded with families spending the day together. A lot of people spoke English which made our (frequent) requests for directions easier, but there was often still a lot lost in translation. (I was fairly certain that we were all promised one free avocado on our flight in, but somehow that never materialized.)

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Old Jaffa

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David Shamay Yemenite Jewelry

As the sun began to set, the Sabbath was over and twinkling lights began to light up the alley ways. The twisting streets led to unexpected light spilling onto pathways as shops began to reopen. the shop above was full of gorgeous jewelry made by a silversmith from Yemen. He was in a line of silversmiths that had been making jewelry for 8 generations.  The friendly saleswomen called us into the shop and chatted with us like we were old friends. Apparently there are only around 100 Jews left in Yemen. They are being severely persecuted but the government refuses to allow them to leave and Israel is trying to find a way to bring them home.

Aidan was asked today if there was anything about the trip that was a highlight and he responded that it was one continual highlight.  I would agree, but that first night in Jaffa was fairly magical.

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