Today was a fantastic day! First off, in Ulpan I had my second mivchan (test), and it went swimmingly well :-) I tend to do what I do in English exams in the Hebrew ones as well; I write sooooooo much. I wrote a huge composition and ended up having to use an extra sheet of paper, so I think I should pick up some good extra points! Today was also special in Israel for another reason. It is the holiday of Tu B'av (which is the Israeli valentines day). Well, since I have no valentine's at this point, I spent a lovely day with the girls going to the beach in Jaffa, eating at my new favorite Arab restaurant, smoking at a hookah bar, and ending the night at my new favorite Arab cafe!
It was the perfect day at the beach. Susanna, Dana, and I got to Jaffa around 4, and spent an hour or so swimming and enjoying the last good rays of sun. I think I might have darkened a half a shade or so, so I was very happy about that! The amazing thing about Jaffa beach was the amount of dogs that were just running around everywhere! It was so fantastic, and the three of us have such puppy fever it isn't even funny; I swear, when I move back to the states, getting a puppy is very high on the priority list!
After the beach Dana and I were forced to find a touristy shop to buy a hat from. We have a group trip to Jerusalem tomorrow for the overseas students and we won't be allowed on the bus without a hat... SO LAME. My hair + hat = NOT SO BUENO! After we bought our 15 shekel, Israeli Army hats (super annoyingly touristy), we decided to go back to our newly found treasure of a Middle Eastern restaurant and have a nice, authentic Mid East meal. You can't really go to Jaffa and eat anything but Shawarma, Falafel, Humus, and so on! Let me tell you, it was just as delicious the second time there.
After dinner we decided to try a new hookah bar in Jaffa. Susanna is the hookah maven so naturally we had to try a new place. We will end up eventually trying every single hookah shop in Jaffa and Tel Aviv before our time here is over. It was nice, but nothing special. Women don't really smoke that much hookah here, so we are always in a bar surrounded by tons of Arab men who look at us like we are the strangest beings on the planet. The best part, however, was that we were outside and could here the beautiful call to prayer playing over speakers for all of Jaffa to hear. It is the month of Ramadan so I'm pretty sure the prayers we were hearing were the ones said after Iftar (the meal breaking the fast each day). It gives me the chills it is so beautiful; this language and music is literally in my soul. It is no wonder people think I am Arab. Susanna told me to look way back in my family tree because there just has to be someone I'm distantly related to who was a Mizrahi Jew (Arab Jew).
We remained at the hookah bar for a good couple of hours and then decided it was time to head home. Dana and I have to be up around 6:30 am for our group trip to Jerusalem so we decided to call it an early night. On our way to the bus stop it was very important to me to stop in my new Arab cafe that I love so much. Of course, the owner remembered us and started talking to me in Arabic, but he wasn't playing Arabic music in his shop so I told him I wasn't happy :-). We stayed there for a little while talking to the owner, and then ran to catch our bus home.
I don't know what it is about some Israeli men, but this bus ride proved that their ways of flirting with American's are drastically different than any flirtation tactics we are used to from men back home... As Dana and I were riding the bus back to Ramat Aviv, an Israeli man, 33 years old as we later discovered, came onto the bus and decided to sit right across from me... Now would be a good time to mention that there was an entire bus full of open seats and he choses to sit right across from me... He was not a small man, and he felt it was appropriate to sit on the edge of his seat so that his legs were completely touching mine... My space was so invaded it wasn't even funny. He started talking to us and asking us various questions about why we were in Israel, where we were from, and then the inevitable... He mention that today was the day of love and he asked what we did. Well, naturally I go to my backup plan for getting rid of unwanted suitors and said that I had a boyfriend. Dana also mentioned having a boyfriend as well since his advances were for both of us... His next questions was since we were so far away are we ok with dating other people, like him... NOPE! He clearly didn't get the message since he talked our heads of the rest of the way home, and his invasion of my space was overwhelming, but thankfully we made it to our stop and were able to escape!
In conclusion, the Israeli day of love was a beautiful day spent with friends, going to the beach, playing at my favorite Arab places, and getting picked up by creepy Israeli men! FUN! Everyday here is an adventure and I'm so in love with every minute of it! I can't wait until tomorrow's trip to Yerushalayim, and then back to the Old City on Wednesday for Iftar!!!!
Lilah Tov Chaverim, and so much love to all of you back home <3,