Thursday, June 18, 2009

Building us up

So I last left you (or we last left me) driving from Masada to Jerusalem, filthy and miserable. My GERD was acting up, and my medicine was in the bag below my feet, pretty much inaccessible.

We drove into Jerusalem and checked into the hotel (90 women checking in is a cluster, let me tell you), and I got up to the room as quickly as possible. I have never been so single-minded in my pursuit of a shower, and despite the fact that the shower head wouldn't move up its vertical pole and I had to bend backward to wet my hair, it was the best shower of my LIFE.

My Uncle Ilan picked me up at the hotel and we went to meet his girlfriend Nili. They took me to a Middle Eastern restaurant in Abu Ghosh, a suburb of Jerusalem, where I ate the best Middle Eastern food I have ever eaten. Ilan and Nili knew the owner quite well, and small plates of hummus (I feel like a broken record saying it was the best I've ever eaten), baba ghanoush, tabouli, two types of cabbage salad, moroccan cigars (pastry dough filled with meat), Iraqi cigars (another type of breading or maybe potato also filled with meat), falafel (again, best EVER), olives, and eggplant with vegetables, all came out at once. Holy moley. I ate until I thought I would bust. Then the second course came. Second course? Drat. If I'd known, I'd somehow have tried to hold back. Kebabs of lamb, chicken, beef, mejadarra (lentils with rice), small chopped veggie salad, and french fries. How much food could we eat?? Where was my finisher??? It was all so good!!

We were going to go to the sculpture garden at the Israeli Museum, but it was 4:30 and they closed at 5. So we ended up going to the Old City. We wandered the Arab Quarter, where Nili haggled me some excellent prices on zahtar and 3 velvet pillowcases. Not exactly the ones I wanted, but I don't know where to find those anymore (my Aunt Sarah of blessed memory was the one who knew the shop in Tel Aviv that had them) and these were a decent substitute for ones Lilah had defiled.

They took me back to the restaurant where I met up with the rest of the group, and we ate at Apple and Pear, an Italian restaurant. I didn't eat much, having pretty much just eaten a couple of hours before, but there were the requisite Israeli salads, some flatbreads, a little pasta and some fish (overcooked salmon, not my cuppa).

We walked to the Kotel afterwards (also known as the Western Wall) and prayed. It was a very powerful experience. Our leader Sara Simpser told us about a special prayer performed Thursdays at midnight at the Kotel, for people who had a special wish they wanted fulfilled. My group decided they wanted to come back with me at midnight, and so we went to Ben Yehuda Street and had some gelato (not Berthillon, but not bad at all) while we waited. We went back to the Kotel at midnight, and the place was as full as it was when we were there hours before. Crazy. Women of all ages, even young girls, all there praying their hearts out. It was awe-inspiring.

So here we are, back at the hotel and it's 2 am. I can't seem to get to bed at a decent hour. I don't care- the day started out horrid, and ended up amazing. Doesn't even seem like this was the same day.


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