I've been having a terrific time taking in my last few Jerusalem experiences before I leave. On Saturday night I spent the night with my friends Corinna and Debbie, playing games and chatting. In the morning I went home and went for a run around Gan Sacher where summer camps have begun to hang out - girls in long skirts and long sleeve button up tops racing down the hills under the blazing sun. After packing and cleaning for a while, I went with Debbie to the Old City to do some souvenir shopping. Debbie drives a hard bargain, so we went from store to store as shop owners flirted with us and offered us a "good price" - we each even came away with free cheap-o bracelets: "Lovely ladies, I give you for free. Come see my store I give you good price." We later met Corinna and the rest of the gang to go out for their final dinner at a nice place in East Jerusalem. I had what must have been the world's largest Fattoush. I walked back with everyone to the University and took a bus home from there, trying to put off the goodbyes until the last possible moment. I feel like I missed the opportunity to get to know these terrific people - by the time I was really spending a lot of time with them, the semester was already almost finished. I do hope I'll keep in touch with them though, and I really do expect that I'll run into them again.
Yesterday I spent the whole day cleaning. I dusted the apartment from head to toe, cleaned out the cabinets, swept and mopped the floor, and put all of my belongings into suitcases. I invited Amy, Karen, and Michael over for dinner, feeding them leftovers from Friday night's feast, and it was nice to have company for a little while after rather a lonesome day.
Today, for most of the day, I pretended to be a tourist. At 8am I walked to the shuk - nothing was open but the candy store, so I bought marzipan challahs to bring home as gifts (they are super funny!) I then stopped by the preschool to wish the kids goodbye one las time. The Gan Dror kids took turns giving me blessings: "May you go in peace and return in peace" "May you be healthy." "May you not be sick." "May you have fun." "May you not eat too much ice cream." Then they performed some of their end of the year songs for me - I think if they took the performance on tour it would be a pretty major hit.
I went for a walk to the Yemin Moshe area, then accross the street and up some stairs to the Old City. I decided to see some sites I'd never quite made it to: I began with the Tower of David Museum, which gives an overview of the history of Jerusalem from the first mention of the city in cunieform script to its reunification in '67. It was helpful to have this very basic overview, I feel like all my ducks are a bit more in a row than they were before, and it helped to clarify why and how there are so many layers of history and cultures in this one space. It was a little bit basic, but that's kind of what I was going for. Afterwards I bought myself a two liter bottle of water, as it was very hot and sunny, and I decided to walk the ramparts of the Old City. The man who sold me the ticket asked me to sit with him and drink coffee, took my hand and told me I was very nice... I suppose these are some of the side effects of playing tourist by oneself.
The ramparts walk was very nice - the views were terrific - both of inside and of outside the city, and I took about a million pictures. the walk ended at the Kotel, and since I was already there, I went in, prayed a bit of Mincha, and wrote a note to G-d saying thanks for a terrific year. I left via the Jewish Quarter, and bought myself a ticket to the Burnt House Museum. A few minutes later, I was inside the museum, in which screens and TV's hang over the ruins of a house from the 2nd Temple Period. The visitors sit in rows facing the screens and watch a somewhat hokey though at times actually quite emotional film about the destruction of the 2nd Temple and the seige of Jerusalem. From there I went to the Museum on the Seam to see their latest exhibit "Adam Adama" (Human Land) about the destructive way that humans interact with nature. The art was very interesting, though they ran out of guides in English and I had to read one in Hebrew, so my comprehension was somewhat limited. It was a combination of sculpture, video installments, photography, and painting. One photo showed the old city in the background with heaps of garbage in the foreground, one was a computer demo about how to create convincing artificial nature for movies because real nature is too unreliable, one was a beautiful hill with all of these roads and walls cutting accross it. Eventually I left the museum and walked up to Hebrew University because I had one more form to turn in in order to be able to receive a transcript later - it's a long walk and it was hot - by the time I reached the top my 2 liters of water were gone. I took the bus back to the Yemin Moshe area and walked home from there. As you can imagine, I am quite tired - though I am ready for another day of tourism tomorrow. I leave Jerusalem at 5:30 AM Thursday morning!
Click here to see some quite nice pictures of Jerusalem.