Wednesday, December 30, 2009
But I have plenty of time to think. Increasingly, my thoughts have turned to what to do after Zion and Springdale, as someday I will have to leave. Lately I've felt that I will end up in New York City, which is so opposite of Springdale. Canyons of steel and concrete, not Navajo sandstone. But I do not think that will be anytime of soon. I found a volunteer position in American Samoa that looks promising, but that will be in about 18 months, if it works out. But where ever I end up I feel that I will end up overseas in some sort of service capacity. Now that I have had a taste of living overseas, I want to keep that up.
This Sunday I have been presented with an amazing opportunity. I've been invited to an international eco-tourism conference at Haifa University in Haifa, and on the Mediterranean! How cool is that? I'm going with Maoz, the owner, and hopefully I can make some good industry contacts. I'm glad that I brought a stack of my Zion Adventure Company rookie trading cards to give out. Hopefully I will have some good industry insight when I return. I'm feeling much better about my time here, and that I am actually making a difference with my service here.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
I just needed to vent, because no one here seems to care about how I see things. An outsider's perspective can add a great deal. The owner says he values what I have to say because I have a tourism background and graduate education, but I doubt that because I have yet to see that.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
- The rain would hang around for awhile.
- That all of what there is to see in Tiberias can be seen in a couple of hours.
- The sea is not that exciting, especially up close. It is really dirty, and the one beach I visited had a storm sewer emptying into the sea right next to it. Scenic.
So I returned to Nazareth early, which was good. I met a group of German artists, and we went to dinner together. I think the invitation came because one of the guys and I had similar Timbuk2 messenger bags. Everyday I meet such intriguing people. I'm glad that I live in Springdale where everyone seems to have an interesting story. One of the guys I work for at Simply Birkenstock has had this amazing life, and I am continually learning new things about him. Sometimes I feel lame in comparasion to other Springdale residents; so many have accomplished so much more than me much younger than me. At least when I return I can say that I lived in Israel, but other people can say that too.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
It has been great to not have to deal with holiday shopping, however. As I won't be back to the US for 6 weeks, I still have plenty of time to accomplish that. Awesome. (Not to ruin the surprise, but the gifts will be Israeli souvenirs). Before I left I saw the most horrifying picture concerning holiday shopping ever. It was from the People of Walmart website, perhaps the most disturbing site I have ever seen. I am from Minnesota, hence, being a Target shopper is in my blood, and this is the sort of thing one would never see at a Target. The link is posted below. Fortunately, I have yet to see a Wal-Mart in Israel. They do have IKEA here; it is in suburban Tel Aviv. I know that everything there is exactly like I can find in the US, but going to it is still on my To-Do list.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
However, there was motivation in washing my clothes by hand. The money I saved by doing this will pay for 1/4 of a day trip to Masada and the Dead Sea from Jerusalem. I sincerely hope that the promised washing machine arrives this week as promised. I will never again complain about having to go to the Zion Park Laundry in Springdale or the cost associated with it.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
What I have noticed at these sites is that I do not really feel anything. I look at them, think "That's cool," and I go on my way. This morning I went to the Greek Orthodox church near Mary's Well. There is a spring which has been flowing since Biblical times and is the reported place of where Mary would draw water. (Hence the name). The Greek Orthodox church was built over the spring, and while I was there all the members of a Russian or Ukrainian tour group wanted to drink the water and wash their hands and faces in it. I was not inclined to do that in any fashion. They also were kissing a lot of the pictures in the church, which probably is not a good idea.
I am starting to think that something is wrong with me that I feel nothing at these places. Here I am visiting sites that are key to religious traditions worldwide (my own included), and I do not feel any different. I feel more spiritual in Zion National Park than in this Zion. Maybe there is something wrong with me. I spent the last week here with my friend Karina from Zion and Springdale. She had been here for almost 5 weeks before she said she really felt anything, and that was at Mount Tabor. I'm trying to figure out how to remedy this situation, as there is great potential for spiritual growth in the place central to 3 major religions.
I only spend 4 hours or so a day with my volunteer activities, which allows plenty of time to explore. I spend a lot of time writing in my travel journal at the Basilica of the Annunication about 3 minutes from where I live. I recently discovered that it is the largest church in the Middle East. Interesting. Tomorrow I am tackling the task of washing clothes by hand. The promised washer has yet to arrive and I am in dire need of clean clothes. I had debated taking it to the laundry, but as the laundry charges by the kilo, it would have been about 80 shekels or $27.00 for clean clothes. That is more than I am willing to pay. I never thought that in 2009 I would be washing clothes by hand...actually never in my life did I think that would be doing something like that.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday the owner of the Inn commented to me that he liked my blog. This was shocking to me as only about 2 people here not including him knew about it. He has Google Alerts or something set up for any mention of Fauzi Azar, and I mention that pretty prominently in the blog. Anyway...because of my blog post about the laundry quandry, the volunteer house is getting a WASHING MACHINE this week! How exciting is that? Life has just become so much easier. I just hope it arrives before I leave for my weekend at the Sea of Galilee. Toda Maoz!
Friday I got to visit the neighborhood mosque for a special tour. I had to buy a head covering so that I could even visit. I am no closer to understanding Islam after that visit, however, I need to make remedying that a priority. There is still so much that I do not understand even about Judaism or my own religion for that matter.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Recipes can be emailed to me or posted as a comment on the blog.
Toda! (Hebrew for "Thanks!")
A lot of my faith in humanity was restored this morning. I just wish that there was more of what I experienced this morning in Israel between Israelis and Palestinians. This afternoon, I watched some of the neighborhood kids play in the lane. Their games involved toy guns and a lot of hitting, and I thought a lot about how much hatred is perpetuated from generation to generation here. Those children are the next generation of leaders in Israel, and one must ask what their legacy will be and how will they address the Israel they have been given.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
After I went to my first Israeli grocery store. Not reading Hebrew or Arabic, I have to rely solely on pictures to buy food. Fortunately, Nutella seems to be universal, and I am glad that I have recently started liking Nutella. (Thanks ZAC co-workers!) Being searched by armed guards before entering was unusual to say the least. The day that starts at the Sol Foods Market in Springdale is the day I have to move.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Yesterday I visited the neighborhood mosque. The tour guide from the Fauzi Azar Inn asked me if I had a head covering with me. No, sorry, that is not something that I just happen to have in my Timbuk2 bag. But as the mosque is having the volunteers back on Friday for an indepth tour, I need to purchase something. On this trip I really hope to come to a better understanding of Islam, considering its prescence in the the US. There is so much about that religion that I just do not understand, but I really want to, especially the place of women in society, considering my experience yesterday.
Picture uploading has been weird; it seems to take way too long. I will have to work on that some.
Monday, December 7, 2009
One thing I am struggling with is the lack of laundry facilities. You can send laundry out and they wash it for you, but they charge you by the pound. But the prospect of washing in a tub by hand is thoroughly unappealing. Before I left I practiced wearing the same pair of pants twice. Maybe I should I tried 3 times. My roommate found my practicing hilarious.
I have an hour before I need to be back for training. Off to do some journaling. Pictures will be forth coming. I just need to find my SD card reader with the USB port.
Some of you have asked for my mailing address. I can be reached at:
Charlotte M. Vaillancourt
Fauzi Azar Inn
Sunday, December 6, 2009
This morning was perhaps the most unsettling experience of my life: the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. Technically it is the "new" bus station, but using "new" to describe it is quite a stretch. It was new like 30 years ago. Supposedly this bus station is the largest in the world, but that did nothing to help ease my fear of being there. For me the most unsettling aspect was the military prescence there. The Israeli bus system, Egged, began as a way to transport troops, and it still does that in a big, big way. Israeli military people were everywhere, including their loaded AK-47s and cases of extra rounds. When one of the military guys was behind me as my luggage was searched, the second I saw his gun, mere inches from me, I thought I was going to be sick.
The Fauzi Azar Inn is quaint by American standards, and my living space is something that one might find in Middle Earth, very Hobbit-esque. I half expect Frodo, Samwise, Pippin, or Meri to pop out at any moment, though I would prefer Legolas. Fortunately, my friend Karina from Zion National Park has been here a month, and will be here a while more. I have someone to show me the ropes.
Never in my life could I conceive of a time when those 3 things would ever come together in such a fashion.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Moreover, everything basically shuts down for 24 hours. The desk attendant at the guest house actually said that using the Internet was forbidden for Shabbot. It was his attempt at either humor or flirting, but whatever it was it failed miserably. Fortunately, I am able to use it. As for the elevators, I guess they run automatically. I have been avoiding them and using the stairs so as not to offend anyone.
Jet lag fortunately has not been a problem, but taking 3.5 hour naps probably helps. Israel is shockingly expensive. I'm regretting my decision to buy shampoo and soap here. Oh well.
My internet for the day is almost up. After 2 days in the country, I can say that my Zion is definitely cleaner, prettier, and friendlier than this one. I miss Springdale a lot.
- Turn signals are more of a suggestion than anything here, and crossing 4 lanes of traffic without so much as checking ones blind spot is common too.
- I stick out in a big way: blonde hair and very fair skin just scream, "FOREIGNER!"
- Air Canada did not show A Christmas Story as the website promised. Sadness.
- Things are really expensive here. The dinner I got last night for the price of something at the Bit 'n Spur was pretty sad.
- I received welcome to Israel text messages when I turned on my cell phone to check the time.
- There is a mezuzah on my door frame.
- The elevator kindly reminds people not to touch the buttons on the Sabbath.
- Everytime I see a LandCruiser I think of Zion Adventure Company.
- Not one person has asked about my ZAC jacket yet. Weird.
And a special note to Frank and Charlie: They have Crocs here! I saw 3 pairs at breakfast alone! (To everyone else, I have received a lot of grief about owning Crocs and working at a Birkenstock store. My Crocs have come to Israel, but will not be returning to the US.)
On the agenda for this morning: visiting the Mediterranean Sea.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
But leaving Zion won't be easy, but I really am not. I'm just headed to another Zion half-way around the world. One thing I am looking forward to is the reaction from people when I say, "I'm from Zion" when they ask me where I am from. Coupled with the stockpile of Zion Adventure Company shirts that are in my suit case, I'm sure that several conversations will arise from it.
I'm sad that I have to leave in the dark this morning. I would have liked to see West Temple from my kitchen window one last time.
Frank will be here in a few minutes to take me to the airport shuttle. Next stop: Tel Aviv.