Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tel Aviv 8/8/08

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Today a small group of us students rode a sharute (spelling? It means a taxi-van) from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv after our morning classes and spent the afternoon and evening exploring there. We saw some historical sites like Independence Hall where Israel was signed into statehood, and so forth. We also toured the most crowded street market I have ever seen and it was so exciting! Being among hundreds of people with Arabic, Hebrew, English, and Russian being thrown around everywhere with food and merchandise absolutely packed into every nook was, to me, just exhilarating. A friendly fruit merchant saw me trying to take a rare artistic photo and beckoned for me to come behind his counter to get a photo with him. I happily ran right over and got Peter to get a photo of us and although language barred us from much communication, we could smile and thank one another, shook hands and he even gave me a kiss on the cheek! Among the masses, two strangers found friends in one another and I loved it.
Later, as I swam in the Mediterranean, I overheard some Spanish being spoken by two men. My ears immediately attended to their conversation and I mustered up enough courage to squeak out to one of them a shy, “De donde eres?” and they were so happy to respond! My weak Spanish appeared to be almost a comfort for them to hear so far from home and we conversed for quite a long time and by the time I left there were “Viva Espana!” and “Viva los Estados Unidos” flying in the air with broad smiles attached. It was a great day in a diverse and fascinating city. I only regret that I will soon be leaving my beloved Near East and I hope that my purposes in travel here have been accomplished.

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