Friday, August 12, 2011
Day 18: Nachalat Binyamin, Shuk Ha'Carmel, Heat Stroke...
Coming off of about 4 hours of sleep, I'm amazed I was able to do as much as I did today. For those of you who read the blog, you know that last night was a very late night, and sleep didn't come so easily. When I finally got to sleep it was very broken up and I kept waking up in the night. Once I finally got to sleep I slept until about 10 and then had to get up and start the day. Every Tuesday and Friday in Tel Aviv there is an art and music festival on Nachalat Binyamin street so my friend Dana and I decided that this would be a good Friday to check it out! We caught our bus to the center of town and made our way down to Nachalat Binyamin. When we got there the first thing we saw was an older woman singing Israeli folk songs right outside the entrance to the fair. People were singing with her and enjoying the general splendor and beauty that is Israeli music (although I must admit it just doesn't do the same thing to me that Arabic music does!). It was a great way to start the fair. When we got inside there were rows and rows of different vendors selling everything from Judaica to artwork to woodwork, and everything else you can imagine. It reminded me very much of the street fair in Palm Springs only it was held during the day.
We greatly enjoyed walking around and seeing all of the different displays, but it was SOOOOOOO HOT outside; probably one of the hottest days in Tel Aviv thus far, and when it is 90+ degrees outside with 80%+ humidity, you actually want to die. I was wearing relatively little clothing and I was dripping wet. I was astounded when I saw the ultra religious walking around the fair wearing their long skirts and shirts and then men in their long pants and coats... How they do it I have no idea! Needless to say, I was not comfortable. I was bitten by a spider last night so not only was my hand swollen, itchy, and in pain, but I was hot, sweaty, and so uncomfortable. I tried to not let it take away from atmosphere of the fair, but I was very ready to leave after about an hour.
Once we left the gates of the fair we decided to go to Shuk Ha'Carmel (Carmel Market), which is a huge outdoor market in Tel Aviv. Again, if it wouldn't have been a million degrees outside the experience probably would have been better, but I love going to the shuk and being in the middle of all the craziness so I was still happy we were there! You have never seen anything like an Israeli or Arab shuk; it is pure insanity but so incredibly amazing. It is important to note that things double in crazy on Friday's because all of the religious and ultra observant Jews are shopping at the market for last minute things they will need for Shabbat (the Sabbath). In the shuks there are wall to wall people so you can hardly move; you have the vendors shouting out prices, or shouting at people who are trying to haggle with them, you have the people shouting at the vendors to give them better prices, you have vendors shouting to other competing vendors, you have the religious coming up to you and asking for tzedakkah (charity) for Shabbat, children running through the lanes, people with strollers and dogs trying to make their way through the crowds, and it is such a sight to see and to be involved in.
The great thing about the Shuk, however, is that they have the most amazing produce, spices, and food in the world, and all for such good prices; it really is the best way to shop in Israel if you can get past the excruciating heat and packed crowds. I think in January it is going to be a pleasure to shop there!
After we had picked up our last minute food supplies, and were on the verge of passing out due to heat exhaustion, we decided it would be a good time to head home. I'm almost convinced this is why Israelis in Tel Aviv don't come out until 9 o'clock at night; who would be crazy enough to attempt productivity in this heat and humidity! After one more quick stop to the grocery store (to satisfy my addiction to a certain kind of chocolate they sell here in Israel) it was back home to get ready for Shabbat. I did what any typical Israeli would do before the Sabbath; cleaned (which is so unusual for me :-p). I cleaned my floors, my room, my sinks, and got everything looking very nice for the weekend. I figure if I'm going to take advantage of the day of rest, I might as well do it in a clean apartment! And now, since sleep deprivation has once again gotten the better of me, it is on to a nice relaxing night of movies, and then a relaxing Shabbat day full of reading, laundry, cooking, and sleep!!!!!!
Until Tomorrow :-)