Following my 1st post, 3 of the other girls and I decided to leave the apartment after all and wander around Yaffo (Jaffa; whatever you want to call it). And let me tell you, it was the best decision we could have made.
Some how I managed to lead the pack and wandered my way towards Old Jaffa where conveniently I had been many times before; it's a must-see when going to Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Just south of downtown Tel Aviv, the cobble stone streets lead up a hill overlooking the entire coast of TLV and the city's uneven skyline. As the sun was setting--pretty early here actually, around 7pm--we traveled up the path to the overlook point to find a live band doing sound-check in front of the gorgeous scenery. Seriously? Yes. It felt like the band was performing a special show just for us entitled, "WELCOME TO TEL AVIV AND THE BEST 10 MONTHS OF YOUR LIFE!!" After we sat and watched in awe, we made our way down the hill and dined on our first "falafel b'pita" (pronounced fah-lah-fell; not fah-lah-full; huge difference I know) of the trip. Overpriced no doubt (oops, forgot we were in tourist-land), but definitely worth it.
Returning to the apartment we found triple the amount of suitcases belonging to another 6 girls that had dropped off their stuff and gone exploring during the time we were out. After everyone returned for the night, we soon found out that out of the 26 participants this semester, 22 are girls leaving a grand total of 4 boys.
Everyone was up at 8am this morning in anticipation of a 9am pick-up by some of the program leaders in order to start orientation activities. As we are all quickly learning, time here is just not the same as in the US. Considering only 4 people could be transported at once with only two available cars, not everyone arrived to the Beit Daniel Center in Tel Aviv until after 11am. Nonetheless, the day was off to a great start. Played some ice-breaker games and got to know each other a little better. All volunteers are from the US expect for 1 French girl. Quelle fille courageuse!
We boarded the large bus after 4pm--again a late start: we were supposed to leave by 3--and made our way south to the kibbutz. I really, really tried to stay awake during the entire bus ride, but having only gotten a handful of hours of sleep last night, that was impossible. I did manage to see the most beautiful rolling desert hills though as we were approaching the kibbutz. Israel has the most gorgeous, diverse, and breath-taking scenery.
After arriving at the kibbutz, an energetic American man who made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) 21 years ago greeted us and explained the rules of the community. We're mostly doing orientation activities with our group only for the 5 days we will be here (we go back to TLV on Tues.), but I am excited to see what it's like eating all of our meals with the other 500 people staying on the kibbutz in the heder ohel, dining room. I'll keep you posted.
We ended our night in the kibbutz pub, which was hoppin' with great American hits such as "Mambo No. 5" and "Telephone" by none other than Lady Gaga. Goldstar was flowing from the tap as Israelis and foreigners alike danced under the disco lights. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and I sometimes forget these qualities are so special to Israel. The sky is filled with an infinite amount of stars as I type this entry outside in the courtyard of the suites we are staying in.
Until tomorrow, Liyla Tov. Good night.
*Writer's note: I unfortunately left my camera cord at the apartment in Tel Aviv with the rest of my luggage, so you will have to wait until next week to see pictures, but I promise they are coming!