Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Filling In The Gaps

Last time I told you about the planned routine and program, so today I am going to focus my attention on what we do the rest of the time. I suppose the biggest gap is the weekend which begins on Thursday evening and finishes on Saturday evening. On two occasions in the past and on one occasion to come we have had Shabbat Byachad's which means Shabbat as one, and so of course no-one is allowed to go away. On these select weekends its unlikely that on Friday anyone is up before midday, and we spend the next few hours slowly getting ready for synagogue. At around four we leave all smarted up and just about awake, once we went at this time to meet our host families and the another time we went to plant trees because of Tubishvat (the birthday of the trees).

The good thing about our local masorti shul is that it is a two minute walk away, the bad this is that it has to be one of the most tuneless god-awful houses of worship on the planet, and when
the main prayer coming from my nouth is 'dear god may this service be over'. After shul its too our host families. Its two of us to a host family and I go to mine with Ruthie. Our host family are Shlomo and Marion Jeter elderly American ex-pats whose kids have kids of their own. The food is always wonderful and he is the type of guy who you can tell has thousands of stories and he doesn't dissapoint. There is a general feeling among the group that the host family scheme has failed. The scheme is meant to give us another point of contact with the Karmiel community, but we as a group have not become as connected with our host families as we should have. The reason it has been decided is cultural, because you know how difficult it is for a Brit to call and ask himself over. On Saturdays we of course want to lie in and do nothing. This happened the first time and most people spent the entire day reading in their pyjamas. The second time we cruelly had to go to synagogue and stay for lunch.

On other weekends one is free to do as you please, so long as you do not go anywhere which may be unsafe e.g. Gaza. In my weekends off I have been to Haifa which is still a city I have yet to get to grips with despite two weekends there. I did however walk down the beautiful Bahai Gardens (the centre of the Bahai religion), and go to the Haifa zoo where I was lucky enough to witness and record lions mating. My first time in Haifa we found it very difficult to find a room so in the end we had to stay in a guest house run by the Rosary Sisters, who were in case you did not geuss nuns. I have also been to the beautiful and lively Druze village of Dalyat HaCarmel, which has a huge bustling market but no transport in or out of it.

Last weekend I went to Tiberias (deadly boring avoid like plague) which is the main town on the Kinneret (sea of galilee) the reason I was there was to undertake the 56km cycle around the Kinneret. The day before my leg began to get very painful and I was finding it rather hard to even walk, so with this in mind my miserable 25km should seem to be somewhat better than it actually was. I can console myself with the fact that out of the seven who started the excursion only two completed it, as the remaing five all went back together. I was actually one of the fastest cyclists it was just incredibly hard to peddle and I spent most of the ride with gritted teeth.

Unfortuneatly I have not been so adventurous every weekend and I have spent a couple of times in Karmiel. These have been some of the best weekends as I can sleep for as much as I want, watch loads of films, and just really relax, it is after these weekends in that I feel most prepared for the week ahead.

But what about the rest of the week. Karmiel has three or four bars, the one we frequent the most is called Franklins and is in the industrial district. However, we do not go there so much as it is one of the most crowded and smokiest bars I have ever entered. There are few bars nearby, where we go to watch the football. There is a wonderful restaurant called the art-cafe where I have whiled away an afternoon. There is also the basketball court where our Israeli's spend much of their time and I occasionally join them. The library is the only place with internet access, and it is where I have been writing my blogs from. We have all joined the gym which is down the road from the library, and it is one of the greatest enemies of boredom, and as their TV's in front of each treadmill there is no reason not to go.

In the house there are two computers which are used for games like Football Manager, or film watching. There is also a playstation where in the beginning boys would congregate around to play Pro-Evo Soccer, but this was soon outlawed. Now the playstation is only used for communal activities like watching films and TV shows 24 and Friends are big favourites. There is also a new show that recently came out called Heroes. Its about random people with special powers, it may sound lame but its actually bloody good, and has most of the house watching and discusiing it. Other things to do in your spare time including cooking and washing up, oh wait no-one ever does that.


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