Friday, November 11, 2011

A Restful Day Off

I slept in to about 10:30 today, which felt like such a relief. I'm tired again now already, but it definitely helped. This pilgriming stuff is intense!

I missed breakfast, but that was okay because I still had some leftover pasta in the fridge. Hopefully I can get my 40 shekels back, but if not, it's not a huge deal.

I didn't do a lot today, compared to other days. I wandered up Ben Gurion Avenue and walked up the lower terraces. It didn't take me nearly as long as I expected. The terraces are all laid out exactly the same way, although the plants and decor is different.

I had to be let in at the bottom. That blue badge that says "Pilgrim" is magical. The guy that let me in is from Germany and he was wearing a cowboy hat.

Just before I got to the terraces, I saw a group of women dressed in black with black signs in their hands. It was obviously some form of protest, so I asked what they were about. A couple of them spoke very fluent English and they told me that they are a group called "The Women in Black" who protest the occupation of Gaza every Friday from one to two o'clock. They have chapters all around the country, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and other places. I stupidly told them it was a good thing they are doing, and then I said, "But I guess you know that."

She agreed. "We wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't a good thing."

That was a cool experience. This place doesn't let you forget about its politics very long, even in Haifa where the tension is comparatively low and Arabs and Jews seem to coexist peaceably. As far as I can tell from my outsider perspective, that is.

At the top of the lower terraces, I came to the Shrine of the Bab. I went inside for a bit. A friend of mine asked me to say some prayers at the Shrine for her and her family, so I did. Then I went to the Pilgrim House to check out the library. I'd really like to read The Dawn-Breakers and some other books about early Baha'i history, even though I know most of the stories. It's just different when you've seen the actual places.

There I chatted with a couple from New Zealand. They were trying to convince me to work in the gardens. A lot of people have asked if I'm thinking of applying to serve here, I guess because I'm young and it's mostly youth who volunteer.

Julie told me in the morning that some of the others wanted to get a sherut (basically a minivan for hire) at four to go to the Baha'i cemetery here. It may be the only Baha'i cemetery in the world. So I hurried back down for four to make sure I was there, but when I got to the bottom, there was no guard at the gate. They were sitting down at the farther gate, so I was locked in.

I considered hiking back up to the Shrine and walking down by the road, and started back up the steps. I met an older woman there and asked her if she knew how we can get out. She didn't, but when I went back down, the German guy ran up the steps and let me out.

We ended up not going to the cemetery in the end, though, because it looked like rain and I was tired, as were Julie and Eric, I think, after going to the archives today. Astrid went today as well. Instead we ventured out for some supper.

We went to a seafood restaurant where Astrid ate yesterday. It was a little pricey, and I took a risk ordering something that I didn't know what it was. It was called St. Peter and the guy just told me it was a type of "sweet water" fish (I think he meant freshwater). When it came, it was an entire fish, fried, and with the eyeballs removed, but nothing else. It has to be one of the boniest fish out there: it has a spine on its back, on its belly, and where a spine is supposed to be. Plus it has little bones that seem to float around randomly in the meaty part. It tasted alright though.

A wedding party came through while we were eating. They went inside and played some catchy Arab music. The bride and groom were both very elegantly dressed; the groom wore a suit with a silver collar, which was kind of cool. The bride had a white dress. Most of the Arabs here are Christian so I guess they follow similar wedding patterns as Christians in other parts of the world. Or it's just globalization.

After supper, we had to hunt down our server to get them to bring us the bill. This seems to be a trend here. Then we had ice cream at this place right next to the restaurant, called Booza Booza. I got two scoops, to try two different flavours, but they turned out to be huge, so Eric and Julie had to help me finish (Astrid had gone off by this time).

Then we headed back to the hostel. I was thinking of checking out the karaoke down the street from the restaurant, but nobody was there and nothing was on the go, so we just came back.

It was nice to get a break. Tomorrow is the Birth of Baha'u'llah celebration and we're going to Bahji for it. It's also a full moon (for those of you that live in Newfoundland, that means this big white thing in the night sky is round, but you'll never have seen it through the clouds and fog... it really does exist though).

It was so nice to have the day off! I even sent in my bibliographic essay to my professor. Oh school, always getting in the way...

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