Monday, September 26, 2011

9/26/11: When They Say Bed And Breakfast... They Mean It! + The Palestine-Israel Journal

For some reason, and I don't know if it was the excitement of being in a new place, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, or nervousness for my internship, I did not sleep very well last night. Now, normally after an awful night sleep I tend to not want to wake up, but when 7:30 am rolled around, I decided to skip my usual "hit the snooze button 50 times" routine, and got up to start my day. I wanted to get an early start to give myself enough time to find the office. If you have been reading the blog you know that I have a genetic condition called "directional challengement", so I wanted to ensure I had enough time to get lost and still make it to work on time!

When I got down to the restaurant for breakfast I was the only one and there was nothing laid out so I thought maybe I had missed it. Seeing that I was a bit confused one of the waiters invited me to sit down and explained that breakfast isn't buffet style here. He gave me a few choices of typical Middle Easter breakfasts (yogurt, eggs, fruit, etc.), and when I told him I wanted eggs I figured he would come out with an omelette or a plate of scrambled eggs... WRONG. The Middle East does breakfast really well! As you can see from the picture above, I was given my omelette, tomatoes and cucumbers, turkey, two types of cheese, a delicious peach fruit concoction, orange juice, and mint tea! I was overwhelmed to say the least; there was just so much food. Now the think about me is I am not even slightly a breakfast person. I usually am not hungry until 11 or 12, however, with this amazing spread, I decided to become a breakfast person and go super light on the lunch. I think a month long relationship with breakfast will do me some good.

After I (mostly) finished my feast (the tomatoes, turkey, and one type of cheese didn't make the cut), I set out for the office. Lucky for me it was only about a 5 minute walk, and I was given fantastic directions so I didn't get lost. SHOCK! When I arrived at the office I was greeted by a lovely Palestinian woman named Najat. Najat is in charge of publications and various other tasks at the journal, and I had such a great time getting to know her. I probably spent the first 30 minutes or so chatting with her, she is so sweet and kind, and she made me feel very welcome and comfortable.  When I was all situated at my desk, I began by researching different organizations that could possibly help contribute funds to the journal. Being as the PIJ (Palestine-Israel Journal) is a non profit organization, and economic times are hard, they need all the help that they can get through grants and donations. I don't have a specific project yet, so I am mainly focusing on social media advertising for the journal, and preparing grant proposals. As I become more settled I hope to contribute to their blog, and research and write articles, but since they have already started their next publication (all about women empowerment), it might be a while until that happens.

As I was doing my research, two other interns arrived at the office; one was a girl from Germany, and the other a girl from Iowa. They settled in and then Najat ordered us all the most AMAZING humus from a local restaurant. Seeing as I had just eaten a 5 course breakfast, I was not hungry, but I ate some of it when it arrived (and it was the best I have ever had), and saved the rest for lunch tomorrow. After everyone had eaten, Najat made us all traditional Arabic coffee, and taught us a little bit about the custom behind serving coffee. It was very, very interesting. First she explained, step by step, how to brew the coffee, and then, she explained, that the foam that settles on the top is dished into the guests cups, to signify giving the guest a piece of the best part of the coffee; the top part (since everything is always more fresh at the top).

Later on in the day Hillel (the co-editor and man who interviewed me) came into the office and gave me a project to transcribe a recording of an interview that he was sitting in on. There was only one problem with that; the interview was recorded on a practically ancient TAPE recorder, and I couldn't hear a word... We'll have to see what to do about that! I even took it home to play it aloud in my room and I still could only make out every 20th word. As the day progressed the Palestinian owner, Ziad Abu zayyad, came into the office and I was introduced to him. He seems like a wonderful person and I am very excited to get to know him better.

After work I was very tired (no doubt due to my awful night sleep) and just wanted to get home. I was originally going to explore a bit, but decided to postpone. I will save that for Friday when I don't have work and can really go out in the day and look around. I did, however, stop and buy myself some shampoo and conditioner since the hotel only provides little packets that aren't made for people with 50 pounds of curly, frizzy hair.
Case and point: Huge hair... and this isn't even as big as it can be. It is twice this in Tel Aviv!

When I finally arrived back at the hotel, I rested a bit, took a shower, and decided to go down and pick up some dinner. Tonight wasn't a "eat out alone" kind of night for me, so I decided to go down, order one of their famous small pizzas to go, and then take it back up to my room. The minute I sat down, a waiter came over to me with a glass of red wine, which I unfortunately had to decline, but I thought the gesture was very sweet. I ordered my pizza and a bottle of water (which they decided to make my complimentary drink in lieu of the wine!), and waited while it was all being prepared. The staff is so sweet at the restaurant, and are always asking me if they can get me anything, and so on, and it didn't hurt that Arabic music videos were playing in the background. I think tomorrow I will go down with my laptop and stay for dinner since it will give me a chance to practice my Arabic while listening to good music and getting fee wine! When the pizza came out it looked divine, and let me say this, it was divine! I only ate a few slices (saving the rest for tomorrows dinner), but it was perfect, wood fire pizza.

Now, as I am sitting here getting ready for bed, I can't help but feel a little homesick. It is so strange because this is the first time since leaving that I have genuinely missed the comforts of home, and seeing my mom, dad, and grandparents in person. I think it is because I am getting used to a very unfamiliar place, and am not totally set in my ways here (which is totally normal seeing that I have only been here one day). It also didn't help that a person from my Jewish community back home, and a friend of my family, decided not to write me a letter of recommendation for making Aliyah because she hasn't kept up with me in a while. The letter of recommendation is very simple, and I would have been happy to fill her in briefly on what I have been up to and why I want to become an Israeli citizen, but this was not suggested and she simply declined. I'm not mad, and understand the fact that she didn't feel comfortable writing the letter without a little background information, but when you are already a little down, and the background information is easy enough to obtain, news like that doesn't really help.

However, tomorrow is a new day, and I am still so happy and blessed to be here. I wouldn't be able to appreciate all of the wonderful days I have without a few tough ones, and tough days build character, but I am not worried, and will get back on my feet in no time. I'm sure a good night sleep will do the trick! And with that, I will say goodnight and send my love to all of you keeping up with my crazy life here in the Middle East :-)

Lilah Tov!!
Jordana Simone 

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