Wednesday through Friday I quit being a tourist. I shared a giant bowl of all different kinds of gelato with Ronni and two of her friends, I went out to dinner with others, at local food and drank desert-y drinks. I took buses, visited the shuk, watched people, took pictures, and wandered around. I talked a lot with Niv, one of Ronni's apartment-mates and met a fair number of his friends. I slept and let my feet recover. After walking to and around Jerusalem in my birks, I was sporting a slew of blisters, particularly an inch-and-a-half diameter one on my right foot. The birks were a poor choice in retrospect.
Thursday evening was the beginning of Shavuot, which meant that all the Jewish bus systems shut down. I was invited to Niv's parent's house for the evening, in a town from whence Delilah, of the Sampson and Delilah story, came. It was near-ish the Gaza strip--some bombing had occurred close by.
His family was wonderful. Both of his parents had come from nearby countries, one of them being Iran--I think. It was also the birthday for one of his nieces. She got a little mermaid bathing suit and sun glasses from an aunt, but a redheaded, slightly older cousin ended up stealing the glasses. We ate amazing amazing homemade food and lit sparklers.
Afterward, we visited some of Niv's local friends. We walked on the beach and talked for a while. Niv wanted me to pretend like I had met one of the guys before while backpacking in India, but I couldn't pull it off.
Friday, Niv and I celebrated Shavuot by eating chicken and steak. We also explored a beautiful little area of Jerusalem, all on a slope. He is looking to move soon and was scoping out places. It was determined that it would be a nice place to live in a few years, once his friends were no longer dependent on buses to visit him.
It's funny both how similar and different the American and Israeli cultures are. There are times that it feels like a photo of Israeli streets, shops, or homes could have been taken of America with no fiddling, excepting printed language. The people don't feel any different--they don't really think differently or have a different needs. And yet sometimes you'll see a man carrying a giant gun slung across his back as if it was nothing. It's a different world with the same heart.