Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dining and Dashing in Haifa

Tonight I left a restaurant without paying. I tried really hard, I promise. I went with an actor girl I met here from Kansas (currently volunteering in Palestine) and the waitress kept asking us if we wanted anything else. After about the fifth time of this, Abby (the actor girl) asked for the bill. The waitress went off, and then about half an hour later, she came and asked us if we wanted anything else. Again.

Eventually, we gave up. I figured if we started to leave, they'd nab us in a second, but even standing by the door didn't get their attention. So finally we just left. I feel kind of bad, but seriously, it shouldn't be that hard to give someone your money.

Other than that, today was mostly uneventful. I mostly stayed at the hostel, although I did venture out in the morning. I was thinking of going to Elijah's cave (yes, that Elijah) or the monastery, or even the Arab market. I also considered walking up the terraces but figured I'd save that for a day when I'm actually there anyway. I wanted to go to the surfer beach too. I ended up doing nothing. I walked around a little, sat down and wrote in my journal (thanks, Mom) and then went and got my US dollars changed into shekels. I got disoriented heading back to the hostel, because I thought it was closer than it was, but I found it again and then I came inside and worked on my bibliographic essay.

Don't judge me. I still have school when I get back, okay?

I stayed out in the courtyard for a while because it was warm and nice, but then my laptop battery started to die so I went up to the dorm. Someone new arrived to replace some of the girls who left, and I started chatting with her. She told me her name was Adriane, she was from Geneva and that she spoke French, so we chatted in French. I need to practice. She's a photographer/independent filmmaker, and she's doing research on religious gesture, so when I told her I was doing a Baha'i pilgrimage, she wanted to interview me about the Baha'i Faith. She knew virtually nothing about it. I agreed before thinking it through, and she went off in search of food. A few hours later, I was just about to venture out again, in search of food myself, when she asked if I wanted to do the interview now. I agreed again, and we went up to the dorm. Adriane asked the receptionist if we could use the kitchen where breakfast was served (good breakfast too), but she refused, so we tried the dorm.

After much fiddling around with her new camera and sound capture device that looked like a taser, we got set up. A girl came in a couple times, so we had to cut it off, but overall, it went okay, I think. It is hard to say at this point.

I left some of my Spinoza Gambit manager cards at the reception, so Jason may get a following from Israel. Or not, since none of the guests I've spoken too are Israeli.

Abby turned out to be Jewish though, so if she wanted to she could become an Israeli citizen. I started talking to her after I bought some groceries and made myself food, because she was the one who came in during the interview. I also spoke to a retired couple from Arrington, BC (grass roof and goats, if you've been there). They hadn't heard about the Occupy movement because they've been traveling for seven weeks, so I filled them in. We also talked about electoral reform, Stephen Harper, Elizabeth May, and Newfoundland hospitality, which was rated highly right up with Arab and Irish. I talked to a man from Amsterdam as well, who has been living in various parts of Israel for a couple years.

Another girl going on pilgrimage arrived tonight too, Astrid from Ireland. She was super tired, so she didn't come out with Abby and me. I s'pose I'll talk to her more tomorrow. There's supposed to be a third person here going on pilgrimage as well, so it must be a guy or someone with a separate room.

Abby's views on Israel and Palestine were very interesting, especially her first-hand stories about life in Palestine and Gaza. She told me how she got in an argument with a Zionist lady who professed to believe that Arabs kill people as martyrs and then eat their livers.

Which reminds me. There are a lot of Arabs here, more than I was expecting. According to Amsterdam dude and Abby, Haifa is in a very peaceful region where the Jews and the Arabs get along quite well. In other areas, especially Jerusalem, the tension is much more palpable, especially since the Jewish authorites decided to expand the Jewish quarter in that city. They ordered the Arabs to demolish their own houses, or otherwise they could pay the authorities to get the job done. Ergo, tension.

I'm going to bed now. I got home much later than I expected or wanted to, what with waiting for the bill and all. It was alright though. Abby was pleasant to talk to and she had a lot of interesting experiences to share. Plus her minor is in archeology, so we had at least a few similar interests.

Oh, one more thing. Sunday is like Monday here, because the weekend runs Friday and Saturday, instead of Saturday and Sunday. So that's kind of cool, to be in a place with a different take on the calendar. I mean, it's not so different, but still. It's interesting to me and it reconfirms my belief that nothing is real; we live in a socially constructed world with socially constructed meaning ascribed to everything. Liberating and frustrating at the same time, innit.

Good night everyone and Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim friends! (If you don't know what Eid is, look it up. It's a pretty cool holiday.)

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