I know it’s been a while since our last blog post. Marina and I are settling into more of a “routine” this days as she volunteers at her theaters and I continue with my studies. My winter ulpan is finally over! I got a 97% in the class, the highest grade anyone received. This morning I took the Aleph level placement exam to try and get into the next Hebrew level. I more or less taught myself about 150 pages worth of new material in a week; new vocab, new nouns, past tense! It was tough going but I wanted to move ahead so I’m doing what I can. Apparently I only need a 65% to pass so I’m setting the bar pretty low for once!!! I have another week and a half break before my spring semester actually starts and Marina’s ulpan started this past Sunday so she has become very busy!
The past few weeks have gone pretty smoothly. Marina took another trip with her Masa group and Lilya came all the way from the States to surprise Roman for his birthday. We got to spend a few days with them around the city before they left to do some traveling on their own. We still find ourselves returning to the hostel to hang out with friends we made there. I think it’s by far my favorite, and cheapest, pub in Jerusalem.
A few Fridays ago, Marina and I went to a 90’s themed party in one of Jerusalem’s many neighborhoods. Since we didn’t know what to expect, we were pretty surprised when we walked up and about 100+ people had basically invaded a street and created a “flash mob” of dancers. The once quiet cafe now had tons of people drinking and laughing outside while a dj and live musicians traded off playing their own music and 90’s themed music. With all the additional Baywatch and 90210 posters plastered all over the place, it was quiet a scene. Thankfully we hung out with a friend we had made the week before at a shabbat dinner and we danced, drank and laughed for about an hour and a half. Every 10 minutes or so, a car would honk its horn and the crowd would slowly open up, whether a cop car, an ambulance, or some pissed off religious jew on their way to the market. Oh, did I mention that this was all at 12:00 in the afternoon!
One of the coolest things I’ve done so far was the tunnel tour under the western wall and the old city. It’s sort of hard to describe what the experience was like but just imagine underground man made tunnels and arches about 30-75 feet high dug anywhere from between 1,000 to 2,000 years ago! It’s pretty cool to walk right next to the walls from the 2nd temple that are as smooth as modern walls and carved from massive 30 ton stones. It’s definitely something I recommend for anyone coming to Jerusalem.
Marina and I are currently in Lod, a smaller city near the airport and outside of Tel Aviv. We’ve come to visit some relatives, Marina’s relatives of course, and while my Russian and Hebrew are still pretty sparse, I feel at home. I love saying בטח (betach = of course) when asked if I want more french cognac! It’s a nice feeling to know that we have family all the way across the world, especially since I’ve never met them before. Its a warm sensation to be welcomed like this. I’ll never turn down a home cooked meal - хариная картошичка в шалмон!!!! For all you non-russian speakers that means fried potatoes and salmon!
I’m tired and it’s been a long week. I’m ready to relax tomorrow and go into Tel Aviv to see the city and possibly some friends. It may be several weeks before the next blog post but do not fret, we are thinking about you. Check out our facebook pages for daily updates and/or pictures.
We love y’all. אנחנו אוהבים את כולכם. Мы вас всех любим.
~Evan and Marina