Eleven through Fourteen

Thursday I was reunited with the other girls from my program back at the dorms. During the time I was spending with Yaeli and friends the rest of my program was on an overnight trip to the north. Jeeping. Hiking. Kayaking. Touring. From what I hear it was quite the experience filled with it’s own ups and downs. While I was sad to miss out I was glad to have my own adventures with Yaeli and company.

Side note: From the afternoon before the wedding, I began the battle of a lifetime with a mosquito bite. If there is a mosquito within a 20 mi radius I will be the one go get bit. Apparently Israeli mosquitoes are as tough as their human counterparts. Sparing you the uncomfortable details I’ll skip to what was required for recovery. 2 trips to the doctor. An increase from 1000mg/day to 3000mg/day of antibiotic. Long periods of elevating my leg. Five days later and I’m able to walk normally on what again resembles a defined ankle.

The second weekend on my program was a free one to spend however we chose. As fate would have it my cousins would be in Tel Aviv during this time. After not seeing them for anywhere between 6 and 12 years it was especially fortuitous. Friday was spent here in Jerusalem on a fantastic tour. My cousin remained friends with his birthright trip guide, Aviad, so we were lucky to have him for the day. Aviad is the type of person who talks so passionately about history you can’t help but feel connected to the past. Seeing Jerusalem from yet another angle with my cousins was especially meaningful. These are cousins from my mom’s side. Having connections to both sides of my family while I’m in Israel is amazing.

First stop on the Jerusalem Tour. View of the Old City.

View straight to the heavens at the Western Wall.

Clouds aren’t very common in Jerusalem, I love the contrast.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the holiest Christian site in Jerusalem, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

Another view of The Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City.

So lucky to spend so much time at the Western Wall.

With the cousins overlooking The Wall.

The rest of Friday was spent in Tel Aviv. What a contrast. Before this visit to Tel Aviv, I was beginning to think that the majority of the country was like Jerusalem. The reverse is true. The bus route from where I’m living during my program to the city center plays out like the train ride at Disney Land. If you are familiar with this ride you know that it is journey through several eras. This is exactly what this bus route feels like. You travel through some of the most religiously observant areas as well as the most secular neighborhoods. It’s a true cross section of the city. Every bus ride is a new adventure. In comparison, Tel Aviv feels and looks a lot like the California coastal areas. There were several times I had to remind myself I was in Israel and not back home in San Diego. The weekend consisted of a lot of amazing food, tons of air conditioning and catching up with my wonderful cousins. It was a great weekend and I look forward to spending more time with them in the coming weeks.

View from our table at lunch. Pretty positive this is Tel Aviv not San Diego.

Lady cousins. Lauren and Anat.

With even more cousins. Cousins of cousins.