Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 13, 2012 - Shalom Tel Aviv!

Woke up at five in the morning to man shouting at what I assumed was a garbage truck. I couldn't make out what he was saying, but what I could figure out was that the man was pissed. And that truck deserved it in some twisted way. With my jet lag still being in full affect, the attempt of sleep ended up being futile when I woke up an hour later and decided to check the weather to base my outfit accordingly. 

Low 70's and high 60's was the forecast, and remembering that we had grocery shopping, I figured a tank top, long sleeve shirt, a sweater, jeans and boots was the perfect ensemble. Since I woke up before London and Maryland, I was able to take my time picking an outfit (practical yet stylish is something hard to accomplish when most of your winter gear doesn't look anything remotely stylish, especially when layering) and getting overall ready. Eventually, they both woke up, got dressed, and all three of us went downstairs to meet up with everyone else. Ricky promised breakfast and coffee.

When we arrived downstairs, everyone was munching on these sweet bread rolls, and I made my way to counter where Belgium M was making some coffee. Ricky then gave us the rundown of what was going on and if there were any damages in the apartments not caused by us that we should be aware of. Maryland and I pointed out a few problems as well as a bunch of other people. Once it was all said and done, we were told to go upstairs to our apartments, and as roommates, we were to discuss how we should be standing financially. Thanks to a discussion we briefly covered the other night, we decided that when it came to the basic necessities (e.g. toilet paper, paper towels, milk, etc) then we will split the money, but for anything that we want for ourselves, then we need to pay for it ourselves. A reasonable point, in my opinion, seeing as this will prevent doubles of anything. We then started to talk so we can get to know each other more, and a common trait we had was we had a cleanliness OCD (although, Maryland not as severe as mine or London). Ricky called us down, and all of us headed to a bus stop.

The bus ride was packed, and most of us managed to snag a seat. I sat all the way in the back next to Belgium M and a guy who had my brother's name, but sticking with the land as name theme, he was Burkley. We drove for a good 20 minutes before we realized that the super we were going to (super big and super cheap, as claimed by Ricky) was a bit of a drive. We all chatted to each other and all, but the drive evolved to almost an hour drive. This could be because it was a public bus we were on, or the place was just god awful far, but either way, a bunch of us were getting antsy and wondered if the ride will ever stop. Some of us played musical chairs because we couldn't bring ourselves to stay in one place for long, but me and Burkley stayed and talked about the arts such as photography. When we finally arrived, I hopped off the bus going "Ah yes, legs, I have those." causing a girl (who is also from New York, but instead I'm going to go with Curly for reasons I'm not going to go into) to giggle a bit, replying "Yeah, those things attached to us that let us walk."

We were told we only had one hour to get our things and back to the bus, this time a private one so we could have room to put our stuff, and all of us went to the shopping carts to begin the shopping. I pulled out the list I wrote with London and Maryland earlier today and we went forth. Because my aunt already went with me and got me the basics that will last for the first two weeks and not expire, I didn't really need to do much shopping, I mainly got grape juice, lemons, red pepper, and a kinder egg. I still helped with the necessities, but I felt alright not having to go buy a lot of things. While we were shopping, I ended up being the translator when it came to food products that didn't have any english, I had to get my head back into the English-Hebrew translation because some of the words I didn't know, and yet I was alright with that because that meant I had actually read and understand. Good old brain usage. When we got the basics, we strolled around a bit when we came across Texas and his roommate who I forgot where he was from, so I'm just going to call him P. They were talking to us about how later on during the program, they want to do a barbecue because of the one we had on the roof. We continued on ward when we came across the laundry section, something both London and Maryland needed. I had a bit of a difficulty trying to figure out which was the detergent and such, luckily Ricky came by (if only as a reminder we were under a time limit) and helped out. I ended up translating some of things London said to hebrew for Ricky because there was clearly a language barrier going on.

When they got what they needed, we went to the check out to purchase our items. The clerk there was trying to ask something to Maryland, who was having a hard time understanding what he was asking. Again, language barrier. Turns out the clerk was asking her if she wanted to pay for her part in to two payments. After clearing up the confusion, we began to pay for the communal items as mentioned earlier. While we were trying to figure out how to split it between the three of us, the clerk and a guy behind me helped us with the math of what the outcome will pay to split the money between the three of us. Israelis are really nice people when they're aren't in a rush. Once we got our things, we headed over to the bus and began to put the things underneath, I went to return the cart as well as get the money back when I forgot how to get the money out. An old lady came by and told me how and waited till I succeeded in getting it out, again, nice people when not rushing. When I popped the coin out, it flew out of the socket and disappeared. I silently cursed because it was 5 shekel and it belonged to Maryland. Texas came by and helped me looked for it in the sea of shopping carts, but no dice as it was missing. He was kind enough to give me his 5 shekels to give to Maryland and refused that I should pay him back after I insisted that I would. We both went back to the group where I gave the coin to Maryland, who proceeded to return it to New York. The shekel apparently belonged to her. A chain of borrowing, go figure.

We hopped on the bus and began to drive back to our apartments, a lot of us were tired which made the bus ride quiet. We dropped off the people who lived in a different building first because they had a longer walk ahead of them, we then were dropped off a bit farther from them with only a block or so to walk. Normally, not a big deal because the weather was nice and good walk after 45 minutes is fantastic… but doing it with groceries? A whole different experience. So me, London, and Maryland began to split and take equal weight of each grocery so as to not make it seem that one is doing more than the other, when Florida (another guy who lived in my city, as well as attended the same school as me, I should point out) came and helped us with our huge pack of water. We finally made it back and began to unpack everything and putting it into place. We were told while driving back that we were going to be late to do the fire drill on time, so we would have to do it a bit later, none of us complained and made our lunches. I wasn't that hungry (thanks to jet lag which butchers my appetite) so I just munched on some of the sweet rolls we got this morning and chocolate milk.

We then went to the roof top to discuss in the events of a bomb attack where to go. For the people in the other building (who shortly came to our place after putting their groceries away), all they had to do was go to Florida's room. For the rest of us, next door was a music school that had underground bomb shelters. Ricky asked who, of the complex, was the most responsible. I knew I wouldn't be able to handle the pressure should such an event happen, but London accepted the role, taking into consideration that of the bunch, she was the most reliable. Ricky handed her the keys to the school's bomb shelter and told it to keep it somewhere accessible as well as safe. Afterwords, we went back to our rooms to do the fire drill, with only me and Spain getting out at a reasonable pace while everyone else sort of came along with garbage bags in hand. Because clearly there is enough time to run from a fire and take out the trash at the same time.

Shortly after the drill, we went next door to music school (which was also a cafe) to say hello to the owner and his wife who baked us cookies and made homemade tea. We went downstairs with our snacks to greet the old man who talked about the school's history. What was more impressive than the man's lecture (interesting subject, didn't much care if I'm going to be honest) was the bomb shelter's layout. If one was not to know it was a shelter, it would only be perceived as an underground jazz club. Drums, Saxophones, a bar with drinks neatly yet messily arranged. It was easily a very hip place to stay at (shortly me, Texas and P joked how when shit was to go down, we would just be chilling listening to good music getting drunk and having the wife's cookies). Belgium M began to talk to the man about making a band because she is a singer (as well as an actress) before Ricky said it was time to move on a tour around Tel Aviv.

We walked for two hours around Tel Aviv and getting to know the place while New York and I were keeping an eye out for a coffee shop. More like, she was searching for a place for ice coffee, and I just wanted to find a place to chill out that's out door and cool. The views were amazing, but I didn't want to stand out like a tourist when taking a picture so I took my iTouch instead and started to do quick snapshots of all the views that caught my attention, one of them being this old man playing amazing music on the accordion. 

As we strolled around some more, I decided to try and get to know more of the people on the trip. It wasn't until I saw these views that made me stop talking for a bit to take pictures. Screw being all touristy, these were amazing views NOT worth to miss out taking pictures of! I was told that when in Tel Aviv to not "look down, keep looking up", and let me just say. It was worth looking up.

Looking up is definitely worth the amount of times I bumped into people, strollers, and dogs.

I could have sworn that my phone began to ring, and of course being unfamiliar with the ring tone being my own. I did a double check to find out that I wasn't hallucinating and that my phone was, in fact, buzzing. It was my uncle asking me how I was doing and when I should meet up with him, because he was holding on to my proper bed sheets that will fit on the bed as well as a better blanket that was much cozier than the one that the program gave me. I told him I wasn't sure but I should be able to find out within the hour, we agreed that he will call back and we would meet up after his second call.

I got to talk to P more while we were walking around, having found out we have common tastes in music (one of them being a musician for a video game I love) and discussed both of our favorite professions; his being music and mine video games. We were both very invested to what we had to say to each other. We were talking for a long time before Ricky announced that we were at Shuk HaCarmel and that we can spend as much time there because after that we were off to go home when we want to. P and I went our separate way with his to his friends and mine to New York and Belgium M. I met their new roommate that came that day, France. Very quiet and very friendly. We went to an ATM machine for Belgium M to withdraw money she owed New York while France took out some money to get a SIM card for her phone. After telling us that she was going to get a phone, Belgium M, New York, and myself went on the search for the Ice Coffee as well as abuse some photo taking of the scenery.

 Once they got their money, we walked into the Artists Alley (the actual name escapes. Always.) and strolled around, admiring all the knick knacks being sold while making a mental note at the same time that I had to come back to buy some of said knick knacks. New York saw a mirror at a store and wanted to go in, to see if there were smaller ones inside. Belgium M went in first and I was about to follow when a woman dressed in black walked up next to me and gestured at my purse, clearly indicating for money because she was holding a small coupon size pamphlet. Remembering my cousin's stay in Japan, and how the Japanese don't say "no" but rather cross their arms to form an X to show a decline of a request or a politer (is that a word?) to say they don't have an item, I went ahead and did that while shaking my head no as oppose to flat out saying no. The woman, clearly upset and assuming that I was mocking her, glared at me menacingly before going for New York, who simply told her no. The woman in black stormed away at a failed attempt to snag our money.

When we went inside the store, New York went for the mirror while Belgium M and I strolled around in the store, eventually catching up to New York. While the place wasn't exactly massive, it was still filled to the brim with pictures, canopies, and silly statues to hang around the house. Again, made a mental note that I would have to come back here when time permits and I had more energy to actually shop for things. After coming to the same conclusion, New York followed suit with me and Belgium M to the coffee shop right across the store and decided to just relax there.

We sat down when the cafe owner's wife walked up to us to greet us, ready to take our order. New York asked for ice coffee, but the lady didn't have, as she told her. I pieced the two together and figured that the lady was thinking of the very smoothie-esque kind of ice coffee and not coffee with ice, so I quickly asked the lady if there was coffee with ice, not the smoothie. She smiled brightly and nodded that she gladly has it, so we ordered two for ourselves with Belgium M ordering for herself a cappachino. We didn't have to wait for long and got our drinks, delicious and didn't need any sugar in it at all, and began to people watch while getting to know each other a bit more. Two old ladies came by and glanced at our drinks before smiling to tell us that the drinks here are amazing, but that wasn't why they caught my attention. Rather, it was the bouquet of flowers they were holding: purple, pink, yellow, vivid greens, these were just the best colors I've seen on flowers and was tempted to take a picture of it, but figured it was for the best to not bother the two ladies for a picture of it.

Shortly after, my uncle called asking me when we should meet up, Belgium M and New York told me 45 minutes because the walk was about 15 and we were going to finish up in 10. Taking our time, we finished our drinks and Belgium M with her smoke, and we headed out while some of the stands were calling it a night. The walk back was chilly but pretty to look at all the people wondering the streets at night, as I was trying to keep up my pace while looking at all the buildings around me. It was also becoming quickly dark, so taking pictures of things now would be a waste of time, knowing the flash would kill it.

When we finally made it back to our apartment, I quickly called my uncle to let him know I was back in my apartment. He was quick, because I met him no sooner than 5 minutes later. We chatted for a bit as he handed me the bag with sheets as well as a wall scroll to hang on my wall. Apparently, my mom really insisted that I have some picture decorating my wall and relied on my uncle due to the same taste they had when it came to room decorations, so he gave me one of them that he didn't have hanging when he told me he honestly doesn't think he should be giving me one and would much rather I venture out to find one that suited my taste. I did look at the poster and hilariously enough, it fell somewhat on my taste. After some talking, he gave me a good night hug and went to drive back home.

I fixed up my room from how it looked previous and it stood out a thousand times better then before.

Figuring I still had some time on my hand, I finally called my grandma. I should mention, that I love my grandmas dearly. I honestly wish to be as eager to learn and still be a kid at heart when I grow old (actually, I really wish to be like Betty White when I grow old, but that's a whole different story) but anyways, grandma on my mom side, as I stated in a previous journal is... well... eccentric. I mean, I heard stories that she doesn't like to go out of her city, hates holidays, and tends to act way more of an old fart than she actually is, but she's the only old lady I know that will say "fuck you" and "I kill you!" in that order while my grandma on my dad's side talks about breast feeding and babies anytime the opportunity presents it self. Or whenever she feels 

So so far killing and boobs run in my family. Could be worse.

Anyways, back to my trip: So I call my grandma and tell her to call my cell seeing as I predicted that she would go on endlessly if I didn't yell to call my phone as soon as possible. Luckily, she did as I instructed and that meant I didn't have to pay. And for the record, people who call me, it's free. Not so sure on the texting. Back on the topic! So My grandma starts laughing like the witch she is (compliment, I assure you readers) and starts asking me where I live. Like a scene from "Beginners", I heard her mumbling as she was clearly writing down the address on her notepad. I honestly didn't see the point of her writing considering she refuses to use the bus outside of Rishon knowing all too well she was going to ride with my aunt and uncle, and she asks-- let me rephrase that, she demands when she can come over. I had to convince her she couldn't today.

"Why can't I come? Ha ha ha."
"Because I'm busy for the next... month?"
"Okay, I'll surprise you!"
"Not going to happen."
"Because you don't have the keys to get passed the gate.

I did feel like a bitch, but at the same time, I prevented my grandma from looking silly if I wasn't home. So once I was done talking with her, she informed that my other aunt (the one living with her) was sick. The smart thing to do, when sick, is to let people rest and make sure they get plenty of liquid. Not my grandma. She made my aunt talk with me, and having a silent understanding, instead of gossiping, I told my aunt to go and get plenty of rest to which she thanked me greatly for for understanding that she wasn't in a position to talk. Couldn't blame her. We bid good night before my grandma took the phone again. I told her that I have my phone on me but for the next two weeks I'm going to be packed busy so I might not answer. Understanding completely, we said good night to each other as she quickly began to call my mom.

I decided then to be social again and went to the roof top where everyone else was. It was chilly that one needed a sweater, but not as cold that you just needed to put on sneakers. There I met London, Belgium M and D, New York, Curly, P, Texas, L.A, Puerto Rico and another girl who's location I forgot, I think she said also New York so I'm just going to go with Apple. Deal with it. We all were relaxing and talking a lot when two more people came, Hungary and another guy (I'm crap with names) which I'll just call L. L was new and he didn't know us too well, so we did a mini reintroduction of ourselves listening the night away to Michael Jackson. It was fun to get to know more people to just relax without the hectic of rushing around. We eventually bid good night to each other as we had to head back into get some shut eye. We had a big lesson worth nine hours ahead of us.

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