This is my first real chance to post, and I have no idea what to write about. I'm in Ra'anana at the moment, at Gila's sister's home. Esti left me here to play on the computer while she picks the kids of from their first day of school. I suppose I should just start writing about the trip so far, and see where that takes me.
The flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv was pretty boring. This was the first time I didn't have my own little TV screen in front of me, and I now really appreciate the luxury. Watching "Miss Congeniality 2" is not my idea of a pleasant way to make the flight go by. So I read the DaVinci Code instead. I liked it, but I really don't see what all the fuss was about. The first half was surprising, but it got fairly predictable after that. I certainly don't understand why everyone told me that I simply had to read it.
We got to Tel Aviv around 11:00am, and went straight to the hotel. Since I was hungry (didn't eat much on the flight...Air Canada's food was pretty bad), we went and got falafel. It seemed like a good thing to eat as my first food in Israel. After that, it was off to the beach for a bit. We didn't do anything special for dinner. We were supposed to meet up with some of Sam's cousins, but they bailed on us last minute. When we got back to the hotel, Sam ran into some fraternity brothers from U of I, and we ended up going out with them until we needed to crash. The bar was actually a very cool place, and somewhere I'd really like to go again, but I doubt that I could find it.
Friday morning we left for Yerushalayim, arriving around lunchtime. We stayed in the Jerusalem Tower Hotel, and I would not recommend it to anyone that I'm fond of. They have no idea how to run a hotel. This was also my first experience doing shabbos meals in a hotel, and I found it to be rather strange. I'm used to having shabbos meals in someone's home, not being served by a waiter. I can wait a while before repeating the experience. Shabbos was pretty tame. We went to the Kotel shabbos evening, because Sam hadn't been there yet. I'd been there earlier in the day, since Sam needed to get some work done and I didn't feel like staying indoors. Shabbos day was beautiful, so we met up with some of Sam's friends and just wandered around the city. I ran into Navit and Sarah, who will be living in Baka for the year.
After shabbos, Sam and I went to Har Nof to have dinner with his charedi cousins. I probably shouldn't have been so amused by it, but I was. They're very, very sweet, but if we weren't all from Chicago, I don't know what we would have talked about. I did give Sam's cousin a run for his money when he started giving a vort about Rosh Chodesh Elul (by the way, chodesh tov to all!), but I'm not sure if that impressed him or frightened him. After dinner, we went out for drinks with the same friends we'd wandered about with that afternoon.
Now it's Sunday. Sam is in Tel Aviv working (he has a business meeting this evening with some uber-important people), and I'm in Ra'anana, simultaneously spending time with Esti and staying out of Sam's way. At some point today, I may even get myself a cell phone.
That brings you all up to speed. I wish I had some deep thoughts to share, but I'm really just in tourist/vacation mode right now. The strangest thing about being here is that it doesn't feel strange to be here. I'm sure that will change once I get down to the kibbutz. I can tell you that I'm happy that I'm here. People have asked me, "Why did you decide to come to Israel?" and I usually answer, "Do I really need a reason?" It just seems to make sense to me that I'm here and staying for the next several months. I can also tell you that I can't wait to begin ulpan. The only thing that frustrates me right now is having to keep saying, "Lo medaberet ivrit" and "Lo mevina". My comprehension of what's being said is already improving, but I can't respond.
That's it for now. Tomorrow we head down to Eilat, so maybe I'll be able to regale you with humourous anecdotes about my first attempts at snorkeling and scuba diving.