Happy New Year!!
It has been awhile since I've made an update, and for that you have my apologies.
The last couple of weeks have been hectic- which is a minor understatement, so let's flesh it out a bit.
This Christmas Santa brought be my very own Bethany Holmes. Mmmm. Just what I wanted.
The big guy in red sent with Beth some excellent Christmas gifts- deodorant, CD's from Holly, shaving cream, and clothes from my parents. Feliz navidad!
I came down with a cold just before Beth's arrival, which I promptly passed to her as a little Christmas/thanks-for-visiting-me gift. I showed her around Tel Aviv and then we flew off to Eilat for a mini-vacation.
For those of you not familiar, Eilat is the southern-most city in Israel- a resort town on the banks of The Red Sea nestled in the wilderness- it is literally surrounded by mountainous desert. It was not VERY warm there this time of year, but definitely warmer than TA, and we were able to lay in the sun during the afternoons. We also took in some of the tourist attractions- most importantly the Biblical-themed amusement park known as "Kings City."
I know, I know. This sounds awesome.
Allow me to present actual text from the promotional brochure:
"The Objective: to excite people.
How? Through action, adrenaline and imagination."
We "traveled back in time, down into the earth of 2000 years ago" through "The Genesis Caves"- which basically was a maze that housed dioramas of Biblical stories interspersed with strange "wildlife exhibits" aka terrariums with rats and hamsters and snakes and even hissing cockroaches. Objective- achieved.
We also entered the "Cave of Illusions" which they describe as "tons of activities from another world to stimulate your senses" but in reality was pretty much like a small science museum for children. The magnetic room was really freaky though- and coupled with my pre-existing inner-ear issues was a real trip.
Finally we went on "The Water Voyage" which promised "mildly extreme sensation" as you are taken down a lazy river "voyage through life size replicas of figures and building from the King Solomon era" which "ends in surprise turbo water gliding" (just like real life in ancient times).
We also visited the Oceanarium, which was truly beautiful. The gulf of Aqaba, where Eilat is located, is home to coral reefs, and although it was a bit cold to go snorkeling, we were able to view the aquarium and even ride in a glass-bottom boat to view the reefs.
Beth and I returned to Tel Aviv just in time to celebrate New Years. We spent the evening partying with TAU students and had an excellent time. We partied to hard, in fact, that my cold (which had been making a graceful exit) came back with vengeance. In fact, it came back with a fever and a stomach virus. I did not let this get me down, but all of this excitement and tourism and partying and hanging out did not allow me to really rest and sleep off the illness. Oh, and did I mention that throughout the holiday season I was also aggressively searching for an apartment in Tel Aviv? Yeah. That too. I was stressed out.
Through all of this I learned the lesson- don't burn the candle at both ends, but if you have no other choice...enjoy the ride. Especially if it culminates in "surprise turbo water gliding."
I feel like I would need at least six more blog posts to really convey everything that's happened in the last week and a half. This has been a pretty good overview of the shitshow that was Beth's visit. It was so wonderful to have someone from "real life" spend time around the new friends I'm making here, and to view Israel through fresh eyes all over again.
Beth- Thank you for making this place feel a little more like home. I hope you enjoyed your time as much as I did. I will send you updates in real time, and I can't wait to see you again ASAP.
I'll leave you guys with a few more of the photos from Eilat, because it really was breathtakingly beautiful
(and a little strange, but that's how we roll...)