Saturday, February 28, 2009
[the picture is of Gene, my roommate, and myself.]
It has been raining relentlessly over the past 24 hours and even though it is going to make work tomorrow hell I have to admit that because of the mountainous scenery and the wide-array of colorful flowers in the Galil Region in northern Israel, the rain mixes in quite nicely and is quite beautiful. That, and the rain is also nice because Israel is experiencing the worst drought period it has had over the last several decades. It has been a while since I have written so there's quite a bit to catch up on. The ulpan ended at the beginning of this month (February) and I moved out of my room on February 3. I am now living with my wonderful host family in their house on Kibbutz and work Sunday through Thursday in the Avocado Groves. I wake up at 5:40 a.m. and at 6:15 meet my co-worker Fouad at the parking lot to drive over to the groves. At 8:15 we drive back to the Chadar Ochel (Dining Hall) to eat. For description's sake, I'll try and paint as vivid a picture as possible. It took me about 5 months to finally figure out how to "do" Israeli breakfasts but I think I've finally got the hang of it. When I first saw what was offered in the morning, a wide array of vegetables and spices and a few other things, I said to myself, "What the hell is going on here? Where's the french toast, scrambled-dry eggs, and fresh-sliced fruit?" I have recently figured out that American breakfast differs from Israeli breakfast. Here, YOU must put all the ingredients on your plate and then cut them up and mix. To top it off, you add olive oil and zatar (a tasty spice). The contrast between Israeli and American breakfasts is a lot like the difference between Israeli and American cultures. In America (more specifically, the US) things are prepared and then served to us on a silver platter and does not require any effort from us. In Israel, to put it simply, if you don't do it, it don't get done. And if you do do it, make sure you do it well because no one else is gonna help you.
After breakfast, we return to work and at 11:00 we go to the work hut in the groves where we take a break and have some coffee occassionally with some fresh picked pomelo and passionfruit. Pomelo is like a grapefruit but larger and less bitter and less juicy (a good thing, more fruit). Most people don't know what passionfruit looks like; it's size is in between a ping pong ball and a tennis ball. It's peel is purple (when ripe) and the fruit on the inside is orange with the consistency of thick mucus (I know that's not too pleasant). It is by far my favorite fruit now and is incredible delicious. One of us prepares the coffee, typically Arabic-style coffee, and we all sit around the table "shootin' the shit." After about a half hour of this we go back to work until 1:15 p.m. when we go to lunch. After this, I am free the rest of the day. Usually I will go running or go to the gym. During the evening, I eat dinner and then will read on the couch while my host parents read and watch TV on the adjacent sofa and arm-chair. I hope to blog again soon because I just purchased a portable wireless internet service from my cellphone provider service that allows me to receive wireless internet anywhere in Israel for 80 NIS a month (20$) as long as I do not go over 5 GB of downloading. Shabbat Shalom v' Shavua Tov (Good Sabbath and have a good week!).