Awoke to my alarm at 10am, quickly hit snooze, and repeated three times until Ben let out a wake-up call of his own to rouse me from the largest bed in which I've slept in over 3 weeks. Bummer.
I sauntered downstairs to retrieve the coffee Ben had prepared and extended morning greetings to Nancy, who responded in kind in Hebrew. The night's sleep apparently had not changed her mind on speaking to me in English, so I was in for another day of listening hard for words I knew, then looking to one of the other McKemies for translation... a process all the more endearing. We then went to one of the family friends' home for a small Shabbat snack and good company. The most delicious cheesecake I have ever eaten was present, as well as a cournicopia of beverages ranging from beer to cactus juice to coffee. A little slice of personal heaven.
Returning to the house around 2pm, the majority opinion was in favor of a nap, and I saw no reason to submit a dissenting argument. Back to bed, laying next to the computer which had been downloading new Star Trek episodes for the past 10 hours - time for some relaxation.
Around 6pm everyone got up and lounged outside, watching Nancy go through her activities of swinging on the hammock and telling me stories in Hebrew. Occasionally I would respond as if I understood with one of the few Hebrew words I do know, and that seemed to egg her on even more - it was fun.
It was at this time that Ben and I decided to hike up the mountain in front of their house up to Beit Gemal. This was a great time, complete with some near-falls and close encounters with Jackals on the way down in the dark. The way up the mountain was not clearly defined - there were many paths, and some would look innocent enough until leading right into a 60 degree incline that turned your two heros right around in favor of an easier path. We made it to the top just in time to catch the sunset, which was breathtaking. I'll refer everyone to my picture link at the top-left of this page for a visual depiction.
After the hike, we ate again, and ate royally. Course after course game out of the kitchen, and after experiencing this weekly Jewish tradition, I'm tempted to move here. We had a soup that had been cooking for an entire day, the best baked chicken I've ever had (never been a fan, until this), beef brisket, rice, and assorted other things that escape me right now. Absolutely incredible.
After the meal, another coffee (I love this place) and a shower to freshen up before setting out for Jerusalem. One of my goals for the night was to buy a pair of the ever-so-popular Crocs sandals. I tend to not go for fads, but I tried Ben's on at the house and immediately decided to make the acquisition. So, Evie and I set out and our first stop once in Jerusalem was a mall - a large and very American-looking mall, so I felt at home - save for being the tallest person in the complex by more than 5 inches. We tried to capture this photographically but it didn't turn out as hoped, and we had more important things to do, like tracking down a pair of these fantastic sandals before stores closed for the night.
Luckily we found a place that was closed but let us in to make a quick pickup of XXL Black Beach Crocs. Now with happy feet, I strided confidently through the mall to the food court, where Evie directed me to a bakery and I bought 3 items that I was expecting to pay about $6 for. It turned out to be only 7 Shekel for everything, and they were all delicious, including one with a sweet-yet-sour cream in the middle that reminded me a bit of the cheesecake earlier in the day.
After perusing through the mall a bit more, we drove to Ben Yehuda Street, site of many a bar/club and hundreds of Israeli young people looking for (and mostly having) a good time. We stopped in at a waffle bar, another thing I was looking forward to at Evie's suggestion. I had mine with maple syrup and whipped cream, and of course a cappuccino. Decadent. We checked out the busy section where everyone seemed to be congregating - clubs, bars, tables outside with hookah partaking - all on a narrow strip that seemed to be the epicenter of the nightlife.
Our next stop was the Old City - we parked close and walked up to find it almost deserted... but it was 1am by now. Evie took me on an excellent guided tour of the area, from the Arab market district to the Western Wall, where I learned a lot of information that I probably should have already known about the source of the Israeli - Muslim conflict. I suppose that I, too, would be quite angry if someone built a building on top of the ruins of mine. It was moving, to see the most significant part of the entire world for so many millions of people, and I spent a long time just staring off into the night at what surrounded me. Again, see the pictures
It's about time to go now, our bus leaves at 4:30 and I still need to shower and dress myself. Hopefully the preceeding wasn't too long or boring; have a good day all-