Alright, because I've been so lame about posting on the blog for the past month (or two...), I'm going to hit you with a long-yet-relatively-undescriptive list of Cleome's Favorite Things while having been a volunteer at the Fauzi Azar Inn.
Which I figured I should do before I set off on my true backpacking adventure on Sunday (!)
Cleome's Favorite Israeli [fill-in-the-blank]:
•Caesarea- Huge city complex from Caesar's era.
•Megiddo- Where "Armageddon" is supposed to take place.
•Arbel Castle- Crusader castle carved out of the cliffs. A real-life Treasure Island playground.
•Heridion- Kind Herod's castle on (and under) a hill.
•Yad Vashem- Holocaust museum. Surprisingly not as depressing as I'd been expecting.
•Israel Museum- Lots of exhibits and art about/from Israel (duh).
- ones I learned from
- ones with crazy adventures
- ones I connected with and were fun to talk to
- ones that became possible contacts throughout the world
• My Israeli family I'd seen only once before (and definitely didn't remember). So cool to have relatives in other countries!
• Locals. Extremely hospitable and interested in showing off their culture. Extremely friendly, for the most part.
• Other volunteers/staff members. Of course. Who I worked with and chilled with. They're the ones with the most impact on making this experience what it was. Shout out to Jess, Pat, Mike, Jake, Hagai, Elisa, Linda, Yafit, Marwa, Norhan, Maoz, Suraida, Gangaanai, and James.
Hikes and Nature~
•Yehudea- Golan Heights nature reserve with amazing natural pools and views.
•Arbel Cliffs- Crusader castles.
•Jesus trail- Varied landscapes on a fairly easy (but long) hike.
•walk from kibbutz to Nazareth- a six hour/30 kilometer walk I'm very proud of having accomplished completely on my own due to the lack of public transportation on Saturdays. And I still made it back in time for my shift. Booyah!
•going out (Patra, tel aviv, Jerusalem)- always fun
•visiting Jess- I stayed at her Kibbutz for a day and had a blast seeing her again :)
•peanut butter find- yes, I am including inheriting two jars of peanut butter left by guests as one of my favorite events. Stereotypical American, what can I say?
•learning Arabic- sort of...
•guitar playing at the Fauzi- I have been practicing, Dad.
•Jerusalem- Breaking the Silence tour of the South Hebron Hills, seeing Israeli family, free official pub crawl, stalking Obama, visiting museums, walking around, seeing Bethlehem & Banksy originals
•Tel Aviv- meeting cool people, getting a taste of the nightlife, visiting the old port city of Jaffa
•smoking hookah/nargila- didn't really like it, but was definitely entranced by the smoke rings others could make.
•official pub crawl- at 18. In Jerusalem. Totally free. Yeah.
•hitch-hiking alone- during daylight and picked up by a girl. Stop freaking out Mom.
•visiting west bank- my second week I went to the town of Jenin with Jess. It really stuck with me as I honestly hadn't even imagined I'd feel safe enough to go to the West Bank. Clearly perspectives change when you actually arrive in a place you'd heard nothing but negative things about before...
•staying on a kibbutz- yeah, I really liked the night I spent on the kibbutz with Jess. Do I think I could live on one (or even volunteer there for a couple months)? Probably not. But for a short visit it was incredibly fun to experience a different way of life.
And those are just the highlights I could come up with off the top of my head. I've had an amazing time being based in Nazareth, and am conflicted about leaving in a handful of days. On one hand, I've grown comfortable here and have a community, friends, and bed to sleep in that I can call my own. Alternatively, I think my life here is now too familiar. I more or less have a daily routine, talk to the same people (mainly), and have lost the motivation to explore/go on day trips [though being sick the last week may have contributed to that also...]. Anyway, I think it's a good time to be moving on. I'm not yet sick of the place, but I am getting there. Some days have been almost boring, and at times I've wanted to punch a few people in the face I was so annoyed by them... so it's probably best I'm on my way soon ;)
Being a hostel volunteer at the Fauzi has been by far my favorite volunteer experience I've had on my year abroad- I've met some incredible people and had some unparalleled experiences. I can't imagine having chosen anything more fun or beneficial, and I know what I've learned here will help ease me into traveling on my own [regardless of how terrifying that still seems].
I thank the Fauzi, Nazareth, and all the incredible friends I've made for a great two months volunteering.
And here's to a fucking awesome final two months of my walkabout- bring on the backpacking!