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Monday, December 1, 2014

Israel post-Birthright. Blog entry one.

Apparently I should do these more often.

I'm finalizing a 24 page essay on Birthright, exposing it's propaganda point by point. And I've been waiting to finish that before doing any other blogs.

But screw it, here's a quick one for everyone in the meantime. I guess this means you can see the rough draft of the essay if you skip to the previous blog entry. Read if you want but I may add or delete some of it.

Wednesday night, Nov 19th.
Birthright ended, goodbyes were rushed as people went off to different directions.

I went with Maxi (our 60 something year old guide) and Eitan, a fellow Birthrighter, on a train towards Tel Aviv. We were all headed in different directions.

I went to my Dad's friend Melissa's house in the suburbs and stayed there for the next four nights, where I spent most of the time typing my essay. I swam in the Mediterranean, ran barefoot on the beach, and played with her kids. Thank you for letting me stay and use your computer Melissa!

Sunday, Nov 23, went to Jerusalem to see my third cousin Lev, his parents, wife Steph and newborn daughter Meira. We had dinner at a nice restaurant and then I stayed at the Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem, which is apparently one of the best hostels in the world. Not bad for my first hostel. I highly recommend it. Just don't make the same mistake I did of taking someone's bed on accident (it was early enough I found a new bed and nothing problematic happened). I met some Germans who visited the Holocaust musuem here and asked them if it was too depressing for them, to which they said they responded that they grew up with it and so are used to it.

Hostels being too expensive for someone trying to travel without using money, I found a guy from someone at Abraham Hostel who was open to hosting travelers. Thanks Achia! He has cool story himself, having ran away from his ultra orthodox family as a teen, slept on the streets, and has found his way to a living with a few jobs and apartment in Jerusalem. Over hummus and arak, with a friend of his visiting, we hung out at his place and watched Friends.

Next night I used CouchSurfing to find Avrum, an Australian-Israeli building his own hostel but is letting couchsurfers stay too. Thanks Avrum! I stayed Tue night through Thursday, and met a bunch of cool people. A Norwegian journeyman who rambled about conspiracy theories but is pretty fun to talk to anyway, a British electrician who's helping to wire the house in exchange for living there, a Thai cook who's also doing some sort of helping children here (I think?), American biologists spreading awareness of secret engineered viruses that control the population (I'm skeptical, but ask me if you want to see the abstract), and an American journalist tracking the story of a new director of an Israel-Palestine struggle activist organization.

Thursday evening through Monday morning I stayed with my cousins, and went with them to friends of theirs for Thanksgiving, which was more of a party for the hell of it with lots of desserts and no turkey. Met some cool people there who invited me to an All That's Left (activist organization opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine) meeting in Tel Aviv, Thurs Dec 4th. Thank you Lev, Steph, and Meira!

Up until last night when she had to fly home to Montana, Lindsey, my friend from Birthright, was in Jerusalem for a few days with me. We wandered inside the Old City, visited the Israel Musuem where the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept, toured to the Dome of the Rock, went to Shabbat dinner with my cousins, spontaneously ran into our Birthright friend Ben, had lunch with our Birthright medic and guard Yosef who lives in Jerusalem, and spent tons of time in the market, which was a great people watching and good food eating experience. It was great spending time with you, thanks for the being here!

I'm now back at Avrum's place. I had emailed him asking if I could come back. He gave a long response that I thought meant yes. Turns out it was just a question. And I assumed yes. When I showed up he got mad and asked why did I come back without his permission. We settled it though. And I can work here in exchange for staying.

Ok I think that's good for now. Typing this with my thumbs on my iPhone with wifi can only get so eloquent. Please pardon my butchered grammar.  I can add more later. See my pics on Facebook! I upload each night I take pics.

Oh yeah. I need to blog about my past six months of travel. and thank everyone that was involved in that. Next time on Michael's blog!

Edit: Forgot to mention that on my way from my cousin Lev's and back to Avrum's hostel for the second time, I walked by the Israel President's house just to check it out as I was curious. I think they had asked me in Hebrew to stop so they could question me but since I couldn't understand it and didn't realize they were talking to me I kept going. Eventually they caught up and yelled at me, so I turned and said I didn't know much Hebrew. The guard asked for my passport, and had me walk back up closer to the House to question me for maybe 20 minutes. They said my big backpack looked suspicious, so I opened it up and showed them the inside. Since I told them I was visiting my cousin they needed his information to confirm what I said, so they called him up and chatted a bit.