What a crazy time the last few days have been. After mostly recovering from a sinus infection, I feel almost human. I haven't done much the last day and a half, just laid around while the rest of the gang had various events they planned to attend.
Yesterday, Wednesday, Zel (zsewist.blogspot.com) and the Knudson's and Gish's went on a tour of the Old City with Hanoch Young; Ron (galuteron.wordpress.com) attended the priestly blessings at the Western Wall, all the while Julia (anotheradventureintheland.wordpress.com) and I hung around the apartment and did laundry. I must say it was nice to have a down day to recover a bit.
Today, Thursday, Ron marched in the Parade of Nations, bringing up the end of a very long line, while Julia and I stood along the curb, amazed at every sight.
The Parade of Nations is a yearly event in which people of nations from around the world gather to show their love and support for Israel and her people. Just a few that I can remember: Argentina, Norway, Ireland, Estonia, Britain, the Netherlands, Thailand, China, Fiji, Canada, Sweden, and I can't forget The Delegation of the Gypsy Nation of Hungary. There were many more countries represented totaling several thousand marching in the parade. Some dressed in their native costumes, some carrying flags of all colors, banners, tambourines, horns, guitars and some singing Israeli songs.
The crowds of people would press in toward the middle of the street, squeezing the marchers into a single-file line while little children would dash through the crowd to grab miniature flags and other handouts. Police on motorcycles cruised by pushing back the crowds, the crowds pushing back in as soon as they'd scoot away. Israelis standing on the sidelines would shake the participants hands and thank them for coming and marching to show support for Israel.
When I think about the spectacular display of beauty I witnessed today, it's incredible to see such a diverse world of people all in one place.
Don't forget to check out my traveling partners blogs, I think they are posting pictures and videos.
Along cobblestone paths, we wind our way through alleys and courtyards throughout our neighborhood, beauty and potential beauty around each corner. Stone building upon stone building this area is built. The architecture is one of my favorite things about this land.
Here are more photos of our neighborhood...
A famous and favorite shopping area for locals and tourists. Starting early afternoon on Friday, most shops close for the Sabbath and the streets are dark. Come sundown most everyone starts opening up and gradually shoppers begin to arrive until the streets are again packed.
Yesterday evening our tour-guide/friend, MacKenzie Gish, took us on a little walking tour around her old stomping grounds. She had the exciting priviledge of living in Jerusalem for 2 years during a two year volunteer stint with Bridges for Peace. Her apartment was around the corner from Ben Yehuda St., so she knew all about the area. For her it was fun to see it all again and share it with us.
Here are some pictures.
The apartment we are staying in is located in a neighborhood call Nachlaot. It's a good 20 minute walk from the Old City of Jerusalem. It's a mixed area with very religious families alongside artists and other secular folks.
Here are some pictures of our neighborhood and surrounding areas.
Sometimes a picture is all that is needed to express an adventure...
Here are some photos of the shuk we've been visiting. Seems we've been here about half of our time. It's one busy place. Throngs of people all pushing their way through to the vendors to purchase their goods. Those who are pushiest get the service.
Folks here don't seem to mind bumping into you, and sometimes, maybe, they'll say "shlika", or excuse me.
It's much less crowded to shop early in the morning, especially since everything starts to close down by early afternoon in preparation for Shabbat and High Holy Days, like the first and last days of Sukkot, which starts this evening, Sunday, through tomorrow evening.
Well, we passed the night. More like, we passed out last night. Well, for me, until 4AM, when I woke up hot and hungry. Too much information? No, but seriously, our precious air conditioner had shut off during the night so the room got too warm and I woke up. For some reason I was hungry... must be because I can't remember at all what, or if, I ate dinner last night.
So, anyway, today was shuk shopping day, aka Mahane Yehuda, which I think means, Jewish Market. We needed to pick up provisions for Sabbath starting this evening until tomorrow evening, for both ourselves and the young families coming in about midnight tonight.
Most of the shopping areas begin closing early afternoon in preparation for Sabbath, so we needed to get out fairly early. We thought 10AM would be a good time. Well, I don't know what I expected but the place was as packed out as it could get. Ladies, men and children with rolling carts - smart - all pushing their way to vendor tables displaying everything from fragrant teas, to fresh meats, halvah (a cakey spread made from sesame seeds), fresh fruits and veggies, flowers, coffee, all sorts of olives and so much more. And we only made a very tiny dent in what's available.
It must have been the hot, close quarters, the crowd, jet-lag and the cigarette smoke all combined but I got very dizzy, and was afraid I was going to pass out. That is so not like me. So, like the buddies they are, Ron, Zel and Julia, pressed on to complete our shopping while I sat on a bench in a nearby square and let the cool-ish breeze settle me down.
When I can get my technology cooperating I'll post photos of our shuk experience. It's very entertaining so I'm sure we'll go back.
That's what the sign said at Ben Gurion airport. After the long flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv, working our way through the airport, customs, and baggage pick up, we made our way outside to catch the sh'rutt(sp?) up to Jerusalem, about an hour's drive.
Our apartment host, Edan, greeted and escorted us through the alley to the space we'd living in for the next week and a half. After helping us huff our luggage up the two flights of stairs to the third floor, he showed us around the place and mentioned that we would have to water the plants a couple of times during our stay. After settling in a bit, this didn't seem quite so unusual as it feels like we walked into someone's home during their vacation. See photos below of our apartment and the view from our windows and balcony.
Falling asleep last night to the voices in the courtyard below and the music spilling from the little restaurant down the alley... "I will sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously, the horse and rider thrown into the sea..." Abba reassures us. We feel safe. He is indeed in triumphant!
Here we are, Julia, Zelta, Ron and I, sitting in the airport waiting for our flight to Toronto. Distractions have been abundant, from changed airline flights to changed lodging, health issues and more...
But we've been called to go to Israel so we must answer. And watch how the Lord makes miracles and paves the way for us.
Our plane has arrived so I must make this short. Until next time...
Follow Julia at AnotherAdventureintheLand.wordpress.com,
and Zelta at zsewist.blogspot.com
Spring flowers have faded and dried. Poppies and daisies bow their heads full of promise for next years flowers. The first flush of spring roses have passed, now just an occasional bloom braves the summer season.
The winter and spring rains have abated leaving grassy fields, freshly mown, to mellow into their golden summer hue.
Summer has taken over at my house, my yard. Though the spring lush has passed, the summer lavender explodes from its broad sage-green mounds, blooms ready for the harvesting.
California poppies sneak in their garden color amongst the Oregano, white and purple, their contrast copied, I'm sure, directly from the perfect color wheel.
It's time. Time to move on and embrace the blessings of summer while they're here. For its long days are already shortening and will soon slide into fall, then winter. And before I know it, it'll be spring again and I want to be ready. But now I need to soak up summer, for that's how I can prepare for the seasons to come. Being emotionally and physically present in the current season upon the earth, and in my life, being aware of what it has to give and allowing it to press into my soul, teaches me what I need to learn for the coming seasons. I need the lessons of the present in order to be strong and available for new challenges the future will inevitably bring.
Thank God nature is never in a rush, cuz I need all the training time I can get.
I thought I'd share these rambling thoughts I strung together last week while we were in Vancouver, BC...
Downtown Vancouver, Early Morning
Its Wednesday, September 10, 2014. I'm sitting in the floor-to-ceiling corner windows of our condo at the Worldmark, The Canadian, on Hornby St., in downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada. I'm gazing out over the city 22 floors above the fray.
For most people, today is a work day, but for me, it's day 5 of our vacation. It's 7:30AM. I got up about 6:30AM. I didn't have to get up so early. It is my vacation, after all. But for some reason, it's easier to get up earlier when I don't have to. I look forward to getting up early when I am not obligated to anyone but myself. I don't have to plan ahead for work. I don't have to pack a lunch or fix a breakfast. I just have to hang out with my cup of coffee and myself. I love solitude. Especially in the morning
I've often wondered what it would be like living in such a saturated urban setting as this. I imagine a condo with a nice terrace, the kind that's tucked safely within the structure of the building, but with a view out across the city toward the water, or right on the water even. There would be enough space on my terrace for several potted trees and some flowers with comfortable, loung-y furniture. It would be partially covered so I could bundle up and sit out and watch it rain or snow, and partially uncovered so I could warm myself in the sun when I wanted to. I would write out there on my terrace.
It would be conveniently located so I could walk every where I needed to go and leave the car at home. I love the freedom of walking where I need to go. It's simple. I would just need to remember when shopping to choose carefully for I will need to hand carry my purchases back home. Or I could invest in a rolling cart - be one of those rolling cart ladies I see around.
Ideally my condo would face east/south/west so I can wake up with the sun and follow it through my day. Inside, there would be two bedrooms and two bathrooms. One would be a master bedroom for Ron and I with an en-suite, good size closet and perhaps a cozy private sitting area, the other room would be an office/guest room with a Murphy bed. The living/dining/kitchen would be one large room with a view out the floor-to-ceiling windows toward my city/water view and sliding glass doors opening to the terrace. The decor would be my current favorite, a balance of modern and ancient/rustic.
There is just one thing, the city is a constantly noisy place and I am truly a country girl at heart. Traffic, garbage trucks, numerous sirens, and this one hot-rod car that regularly zooms up and down Hornby several times a day; I would definitely need regular forays into nature (perhaps even a cabin on the edge of the land where it meets the sea). But there's a vibrancy in the city that wakes me up and keeps me alert, makes me think, causes me to want to learn new things, keeps me on my toes. Living in a simple condo type manner, I think, would allow me to pursue some of the ventures I've been wanting to explore for a very long time; like learning a new language and getting my writing career off the ground, to name two.
Would I be able to find a writing place within my condo? I'm sure I could carve out a little space. I've done so today. I love this little spot in the corner window. I've learned that I don't need a lot of space, just some emotional space within a space. Just enough removed from the fray, yet still connected to the whole of it.
And it's funny-strange, yet true, that though I am definitely refreshed and restored and nurtured by nature, I tend to be distracted by it's beauty and feel a strange longing to possess it, as if I could; or feel it wants to possess me. While in the city, somehow I'm a part of it yet anonymous enough to be free of it and it's possessions, whether they be physical or emotional.
Both are inside me. The city and the country. The contained and the wild. They are both a part of who I am. I will always crave the mountains and the water but I'm feeling, and admitting, that there's a part of me that also longs for the city.
Like most humans, I think I want it all, but I'm also learning that "all" is not what I really want. What I really want is freedom from complicated living, freedom from the pursuit of "things", freedom from debt, freedom to pursue my dreams without being pushed and pulled around by what I've formerly believed that I "should" be doing.
My priorities have gradually been changing over the last few years. And now I'm at a place where I want to declutter my life. When I get home I want to go through my house room by room and get rid of the stuff that I don't need, but especially the stuff that has an emotional hold on me. I want to either give it away, sell it or re-create it into the creations I envision in my head.
There's nothing, really, that's stopping me from doing this. Except myself and what I think or how I think.
It won't be easy, I know. But, with thoughtfulness, patience, and consistency - ironically, three of my weakest traits - I can do this. During the process I will be exercising and strengthening my inner self; the end result, I believe, will be "true" freedom. I will have learned a great deal about myself, gained confidence in myself, rebalanced a lopsided sense of myself and corrected beliefs I have held about the world, both physically and spiritually. There will be more room inside of me to hold what God desires for me to have.
Yes, all of the above is so very valid. This is what I know today. I'm traveling on a path and I can only see far enough ahead for today. Tomorrow I hope to have learned something new. I, hopefully, will have been drawn closer to God. My life will be different tomorrow, tonight, even. I don't know what I don't know. But tomorrow I will be closer.