Monday, July 13, 2015

We had a wonderful week, probably one of the best dig weeks we've had in a while, especially compared to last year when we were so unkindly interrupted... We have the biggest group we've had so we've been able to move lots of dirt and work on all the projects we've been hoping to. In one square they took a hole down about 2 meters and found more huge rocks in front of our fortification wall from the EB period (appr2500 BC), we're still trying to figure them out, but they are cool. Another area I got to go over and have a little pickaxing time, that was fun :) Lately I've had some much running around and paperwork I haven't even got to do quite so much actual digging; which I guess is the unfortunate downside of being a supervisor and not just a volunteer. But the main square I've been working in came down to a layer with a cobble stone floor, which is exciting because that tells us for sure that it was a real level where people lived from the Late Bronze period (appr 1400-1200 BC)Just on Friday we found a cute little jug base shoved into a whole in the wall, it almost looked like it would come out whole, but the top was already broken off unfortunately. But there was also a little decorated pendant made from bone, which was interesting. We also found another wall in what we thought had just been a tumble of rocks!
In another square we've got lots of cool material from the LB as well- some flint and bronze blades, a bronze spear tip, lamp bowl pieces, and other little things, so that's been exciting.

The most exciting thing from this week was the discovery of a wall down at the base of the Tell which actually turned out to be a gateway. and is a big deal. It basically proves that this city was large and fortified during the 8th century, although some have argued that it isn't. So it's a very big find and has changed the whole dynamic of the project and the research questions being asked. This week we are once again doing double days to expose as much of it as we can to be able to show and prove that it is what we think (and hopefully get some sponsors). The area supervisor down there, Amit, is especially anxious to have Eric and I down there to help and see what's happening. He wants us down there next year in another section digging the wall. So it's getting rather crazy here!

This last weekend was nice. We hung out a little at our friend Zach's shop, he's a really cool guy. Saturday after church Jeff and Kim invite a few other people over and we had dinner at the BYU center. They have a wonderful view from their balcony, so it was great to just sit there and relax with everyone there and then get a fun tour of it from Jeff, who's been here from the beginning basically. We stayed there until the end of Ramadan that night, which is signaled by the muezzin call and then a canon that goes off in E. Jerusalem. We had a perfect view of the canon shot, followed about 4 seconds by the boom as it caught up to us. And it was a beautiful sight to watch the Ramadan lights go on throughout the city and then see the city completely silent as the Jews were inside for their Sabbath and the Muslims were home devouring their first meal after 18 hours of fasting. There are lots of pics from that on facebook that I'm tagged in. We then went over to Ben Yehuda street, which is basically an all night party at the end of Shabbat and always has a random Christian Korean group singing. It's fun :)

Sunday Morning Darra and I got up early-ish and did some adventuring. We went over to the city of David to go in Hezekiah's Tunnel, and after accidentally getting a little lost and climbing a huge hill once more than needed, we made it and managed to get ahead of the groups to be in there one our own. It was fun, especially to switch off the lights and be silent and hear nothing but the dripping water and slight current.

Unfortunately the Temple Mount has been closed for the last 10 days of Ramadan, so we weren't able to go up there, but we made our way to the main market of the New City, Mekhane Yehuda. It's a fun place that I explored last year on my own and found a delicious pasta food place, which I introduced to Darra. And we had fun walking through the market. It's a fun experience and different part of Jerusalem that not many see if they only stick inside the walls of the Old City.

That night we went to the Israel Antiquities Authority meeting for the shmooze and event that happens every July. There weren't too many people we needed to schmooze with, so we mostly just at the delicious (non-kibbutz) food. At one point during the night, though, my new professor from ECU (she's here for the summer) comes over and whispers to me, asking if I want to see something cool. SO I get up and follow her. Turns out they opened the tower for a few people to go up in. This meeting is held at the Rockefeller museum right on the East of the old City, which has a huge tower in front. This tower is rarely opened, especially as it requires a stair climb spiraling the round room up and then a ladder that hangs from a small opening to climb through to get up and outside. And the view is amazing!!! It was really cool and a rare treat, my professor has been coming to Israel since '78, and this was only the 2nd time she'd got up there. Unfortunately neither of us had cameras, but it was cool, and I decided I made a good decision in choosing my new mentor :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Dig and Clean, Dig and Clean...

I finally made it to Israel after a long flight through Baku, though with good food and no problems (which was very nice). I got in Sunday and made my way to the kibbutz, which, in accordance with my public transportation luck, took quite a while. I missed the stop on the train into Tel Aviv and had to take an hour ride through the city to get to the central bus station, That was only the first of my problems, but I did eventually make it :)

Life since then has been super busy. Starting Monday we were up on the Tell cleaning and weeding. The weeds this year are so tall! We had to cut away paths just to get to our area up on top. But we also luckily had a large group, even in the first week and were able to get a lot done. So by Tuesday we were actually able to start digging, which was awesome and way faster than most years.

Our group included a few students from Bar Ilan, who were fun ,but also varying in english.  This last week Jeff was gone on a BYU center trip, so Eric was in charge and I ended up being the best Hebrew speaker (which isn't saying much...) So they were put with me in my main square (though I was running between a few). We got by pretty well, though, Half of our talking was pantomiming, but we all taught each other our language and had some fun, The two girls I was especially with were, admittedly, a little pampered and never even cleaned their own homes. So when I had them clean a wall like ten billion times, they thought it was hilarious. They'd ask what they had to do, and then before I even answered, went "linaqot! (clean)" we definitely got that word down in both languages,,, And then they would start singing the Cinderella song. They started calling their little room their home since it was the only thing they'd cleaned  so well :)

We ended up finding a new wall, which was fun, and helped us learn where some house rooms are for sure. And doing lot sof other digging in other areas. So it's been good and hot and tiring, but very nice to be back. It has also been so fun to see everybody again and catch up from the year. We really do have a good  group this year and everything;s been going well.

On the weekend, we of course went up to Jerusalem to stay. We didn't do too much, but definitely took the chance to recuperate and relax. Saturday was pretty exciting, We went to church in the morning, I was excited when they had the sister from Moldova teach the RS lesson in Russian, that was fnu to listen to. In the afternoon there was a 4th of July party at the Albright Institute. Which meant more schmoozing and talking, but also good food. Including meat and cheese on the same table!! But I actually didn't get to savor it too much as we had to hold back and save our stomachs for later.

That night we were invited to a Ramadan feat, which was awesome!!! It's been Ramadan since I've been here, which definitely provides for  a different experience. There are lights everywhere and at night it is crazy in the Muslim quarter (where our hostel is). Once the cannon goes off around 8pm, then things ocme alive, the lights go one and there are fireworks going off all over the city until 3:30am when feasting starts again, So we got fireworks for Independence day too! :)
Anyways our shopkeeper friend, Zach, as well as Omar next door, invited us to come to their shops for dinner. it was absolutely delicious, but so much! We definitely didn't finish, and they laughed at us, but we got away with it because we were Americans... It was a wonderful opportunity, and we were very grateful.

And then Sunday we drove back to the Tell to do it all over again!
Also, if you want pictures, go on facebook. I actually haven't taken any, but luckily there are some that are taking a whole lot.

More NY pics

Her are a few more from our adventures in New York:
M&M store

Hershey's Store (they gave us a free chocolate kiss :)

Grand Central Station

I found Balto!

Broadway- Les Mis

Hanging out in Times Square

On the Staten Island Ferry

Little Russia!!

Hanging out at Coney Island Beach


The Met Museum with awesome Egyptian stuff, like a whole temple complex!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Another Year, Another Adventure

Our journey this summer began with a week in New York together.

Peter had a music conference to go to and present a poster, so I tagged along J Most days He would leave early in the morning and then we’d meet up for lunch and then again after his afternoon sessions. My mornings were spent waiting in ticket lines for Broadway, wandering the streets in Brooklyn and Manhattan or sleeping in (ok, it tended to be more of the latter…) It was a fun week overall, though we both confirmed that big cities are not for us; I for one don’t know how people can live based on subway and bus schedules or having to plan so much time just getting from one place to another even if it’s a few miles away (alright, done ranting). But visiting was fun, we stayed in an apartment through Airbnb which turned out super well and a very nice (and cheap) option. It turned out to be in a heavily Jewish area in Brooklyn, so that was fun. And it turned out that we were right across the street from a famous, and delicious, donut store (Dough) that made huge, fresh donuts with delicious flavors. It was an exciting find J

We got in early Sunday morning (6am) after a long overnight flight and eventually made it to our apartment. We took a nap for a couple hours and then headed out to find the closest ward. Adjusting to the whole bus system thing, we ended up walking to church, figuring it wouldn’t be so bad. We did make it, right in time for sacrament, but after a rather long, hot, and humid walk through Brooklyn. The branch met in some rooms of a random building and was rather small, but it was very nice. We really enjoyed the branch and the people there. It was a fun mix of young hipster families and older Brooklynites.

One thing I knew about, but hadn’t really prepared myself for, was the humidity. Oh my, the first couple days were the worst when it was so hot, but really humid and rainy. We didn’t have an air conditioner where we were, just a fan which we blasted on us as soon as we got home. Later in the week, it did get a little more bearable.

With only a week, we couldn’t do everything there is to do in New York, but we fit in a good number. Peter’s conference was at the Lincoln Center and Julliard School, so we were in the area a lot. I enjoyed hanging out in Central Park sometimes as I waited for him to come out. I discovered the Balto statue and the Strand street bookstore (it was so hard not to buy anything!). I also watched the seals at the zoo (it was the only thing visible from outside the park).
It was also fun getting to meet up with my good friend, Dina, who lives there now as a hotshot graphic designer. We had dinner with her our first evening in Little Italy. I hadn’t seen her in over a year, so it was a good reunion and fun to have her and Peter meet. She also knew all the good dessert places to eat at, so we got a good list to go off of.

On Tuesday we went to see the American Ballet perform Swan Lake at the Met Opera House. That was fun, and luckily not too expensive with student tickets. I only fell asleep once, though it was only during a really long dance number with soft music, and I wasn’t the only one struggling… cough*peter*. It was very nice, though, and not just because I got to rest my feet.
Met Opera House
Wednesday, after three tries, I finally got us cheap-ish tickets to Broadway for that night. We went to see Les Miserable at the Imperial Theater. That was exciting. The theater was smaller than we expected, but it was a very cool layout and background. There is just something about a Broadway production that makes the show that much more impactful and exciting. It was a fun experience. Then we walked around and explored Times Square a little.

Lincoln Center

 Earlier that afternoon we went on a tour with Peter’s conference people (I tagged along) on Mahler’s New York. It involved a whole lot of walking and looking at buildings that stood on ground where the actual buildings Mahler had been in had been long ago destroyed. But we did learn some cool history about the city and the composer.

We were going to go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on Thursday, but it turns out that if you want to climb in the statue, you have to book it months in advance; the next available ticket was for October! So since we didn’t want to pay just to go stand on the islands and look, we opted for the cheapskate version and rode on the Staten Island ferry across the Hudson and got our views of both Islands J 
Ground Zero
That evening we made it (after a very, very long bus ride and quick detour into a TJ Max) to Brighton Beach. This area is also known as Little Odessa or Little Russia. And it was so great. It really did feel like a little piece of Russia, and I think we both felt a little more at home there than in much of the other areas in New York. We had a delicious Russian dinner and got some treats at a bakery and spent time in a Russian bookstore and only restricted ourselves to buying one book. We got to speak Russian and hear Russian spoken all around us.
Friday was our last day in New York, and last day together. We were able to go and do a session at the Manhattan Temple, which was actually right across the street from his conference, so it was very convenient. It was a beautiful and unique temple, we enjoyed being there and being in a quiet place among all the bustle of the city. 
We made our way from there (with a detour to the Shake Shack for dinner, as suggested by Erica) to the Metropolitan Museum. It was huge! Towards the end we practically had to run through to get to the areas we wanted, though unfortunately still missed the Near Eastern collection. I could just see the huge wall and winged lions from the Assyrian Mesopotamia, but that was it L We’ll just have to go back someday. We did go, though, through the Egyptian collection, which was wonderful and huge and very exciting, there were even a few good mummies. We tried to divide it evenly so Peter and I both saw the exhibits we each wanted. So we wandered through some Medieval Halls and European art and then through a whole exhibit on musical instruments. That was pretty cool, there were some really crazy designs and styles of instruments.

Then Saturday we both left, Peter for North Carolina and me for Israel. I still don't know why I ever thought it was a good idea to leave my husband for a whole month 5 days before we even hit our 2nd month mark, but I'm here. And it is good to be back, to be with friends again and prepare to dig and have fun in the dirt :)

I will put up more pics tomorrow. And I promise I will not write posts quite so long in the future.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Journey's End via Sweden

Don't worry, I made it back home, it only took me circling of the world to do it. And if you had taken my bet, you almost would have won. My airplane touched down at 11:51 pm, almost making it 46 days instead of 45. But make it I did.
My final time in Israel was very enjoyable and relaxed. As i mentioned, i was invited to stay at the home of my good friend Sylvie. And it really was so wonderful, to be in a real home, with a room to myself, a sense of normality amidst all that has been happening this month, and cute kids to boot.
The moment I walked in the door, Shai (3 yrs, who i occasionally helped with during the 2011 dig season) took my hand and wanted to show me his home and more specifically his tv :) later that night after jeff had left he whispers to his mom, "is she going home?" -"no, she's going to stay the night" - "really?! does she have pajamas?" -"yes, she has her own pajamas"- "oh!!!!" and his eyes were super wide and he jumped up and down. Haha, he's probably my new best friend.
Kerem in her morning mood, and still cute
Shai, doing everything he can not to go to bed :)

Wed I hung out with the kids playing with all their toys they brought out to show me, and Sylvie as she made little cake decorations and cake for the party we went to later that night. It was a "graduation" party for her daughter's day care/pre-school. It was so much fun, cute kids dancing around, normal people in regular life, and delicious food. And then we watched a movie after the kids went to bed, i think we both fell asleep several times during it...
Kerem feeling beautiful in her dress for the party

Then her husband was kind enough to give me a ride into Tel Aviv the next morning for my flight. That was uneventful (well except for the lady right in front of me who suddenly jumped on a mom and son and attacked them, and i was the most scared i'd been all summer...) and not fun so we won't dwell on that.
Thursday night I made it to my final stop before home- Sweden. It was beautiful. And awesome. And someday I will definitely go back. I it about 5 in the afternoon, successfully made it to my hostel (without asking for directions, score), and then walked back out to explore. Ok, take that back, i did ask once at the information desk for a map and which direction to walk out of the station.
Welcome to beautiful Sweden!
obligatory parent pic walking towards parliament bldg

The first thing I did, of course, was eat. Hot dog type stands are everywhere, so i got the classic hot dog with mashed potatoes on it, it was actually pretty good.
I ended up following the main direction of the crowd and found the long main street of the city as the sun was beginning to lower (though it didn't actually set till about 10pm). Sweden is a really cool system of 14 islands, though it just looks like crossing small rivers to get from one area to the next. As i walked down the main street ( i won't even attempt to spell, but it ends with -aten, all of them did) I ended up walking across the island with parliament (though i didn't know it till the next day) and then over to the next with the royal place and Gamla Stan (the old city) with tiny little streets winding around and a fun atmosphere. And places that sold delicious ice cream. That was a fun place just to sit and people watch and look at the beautiful buildings around me.

Friday morning i had a few hours to explore some more- a park, the front of the parliament bldg and palace, more bridges, and cool buildings. And then i met with the group for a free walking tour they do (also in most main european cities too, good to know). Our guide was actually from australia, but he still knew some pretty cool things about the history and fun facts of the city. We learned the story behind the "stockholm syndrome" and the nobel peace prize and why IKEA is the way it is. Definitely a good choice.
Park where i ate my delicious chocolate and orange muffin

Royal Palace

Parliament bldg

Department store where Greta Garbo got her start

Place where they present the Nobel Peace prize

Look! 2 pictures of me in one post, that should make mom happy

And then I had to run back to the airport or i was going to miss my flight. And then my flight ended up getting delayed almost 8 hours! so i definitely didn't miss that! I don't get frustrated easily, but i was getting pretty close, especially when no one knew anything about what was going on and i had to go through security twice just to find that out. But eventually they boarded us after another security check. And after a long 12 hours i made it home, as i said, in 45 days (with 9 minutes to spare :) And now, back to real life...

and my nephew
He really likes the camel i brought home for him (he gave it a kiss right after) and my panda, which is still mine, but i'll share once in a while

Sitting still, for about 2 sec

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Walking my Feet off

I really should get one of the shirts i see in the stores as i pass by that say, "I walked my feet off in Jerusalem" because i feel it. But i have a had a rather successful couple of days getting in everything i wanted, with the exception of a few, but hey i need to leave some for next year.
Today i am sitting in the beautiful home of my good friend Silvie who is wonderful and super nice to have invited me to stay. For one thing, it is so nice to be in an actual real home with a room to myself! And she has two very cute kids, Shai (who i would sometimes babysit at the kibbutz in '11) has become my new best friend and was so excited when he found out i was staying the night.

But going back, Monday was my second to last day in Jerusalem, and it was a good day. The itinerary ended up being:
Ramparts walk
You can go up onto the Old City walls and walk from Jaffa gate to Lion Gate along the Northern side. There were some really cool views. Also, between China and here, I am very tired of stairs, especially uneven ones.

Another one fro mom and dad. On the Ramparts with the YMCA tower and King David hotel in the background. (this is why i don't take selfies)
Being creepy and stalking a new friend from church walking on the street below.

Jaffa gate from above

Damascus gate from above

Herod's Gate from above

Lion Gate and in the background, Golden Gate. From above

Rockefeller museum
The walk finishes at Lion Gate, so i walked from there over to the museum. You know, it's really hard to find a place to get a cold drink during Ramadan, and it was hot! Really one of the greatest museums in the world. Such a great collection of pottery all categorized and awesome. I might have completely filled up my camera with pictures there... Here are some examples:

Tram up to Makhane Yehuda
For the first time I rode the new tram! It was really nice and way easier than trying to figure out buses. And it was super easy to know the right stop, it actually tells you. So i made it to the market and walked around for a while, it was fun. There was also a great selection of food places, i found a crowded, but super delicious pasta place. And then had a Re:bar smoothie (sort of like Jamba Juice), also very delicious, and very nice to get something other than falafel and shawarma (though i still love both very much). And, one of the highlights being in this area was that most people start of assuming you speak hebrew. So i for the most part spoke in my simple hebrew and people were pretty nice and let me, that was fun.


Pasta Pasta!

 Bus to Ketef Hinnom
Also another highlight: made it on the right bus, got off on the right spots, never got lost once, score. And even found the tombs here at Ketef Hinnom. It was rather tricky, though. These are 1st temple period tombs and a pretty significant place where they found some silver scrolls. And the only thing i could find on their location was that it was right next to St. Andrews church. So i went there, the receptionist guy had no idea what i was talking about, not even the name Ketef Hinnom (and that's hebrew!) Finally I went back down and around to a museum for some random guy on the hill below the church and was super lucky that at least one of the girls knew what i was talking about as far as looking for old caves/burials. To get to it you had to go through the building and around to the back where it's just hidden between fences and weeds. But i made it! And it was pretty darn cool.

Pretending to be dead where bodies would be lain to decompose before their secondary burial. :)

Body spots to put their dead until only the bones would be left and then they would gather them up and dump them in the cave cavity underneath.

Walk up to Emek Refaim
Luckily, this place was near where we had walked on Fri, so i just took the bike path back up and went to my new favorite book store down that street. Also, i am running out of pictures because my memory card might have been filled with pictures of pottery...
Bus to Yafo st center
Made it back, without getting lost.
Russian Compound
The stop ended up being a little farther up the street and i had remembered Jeff pointing out the direction of the compound when we were on Yafo the other night. So i wandered around and found the area which i hadn't even planned on for that day. So pleasant side trip. Unfortunately the church was closed on Mondays (random) and the hospital was boarded up. But hey, at least I saw it.    Russian Hospital
                                                 Russian Orthodox Church
Mamilla Mall
I walked from there down to the Mamilla Mall to sit and relax some. I had also heard about the Aroma cafe sort of like Starbucks. So I tried it, which gave me a good excuse to sit down. That is one annoying thing here, you can't sit on any chairs or tables by a cafe/restaurant without them either making you order or kicking you out. The ice cream was really good though.
And then I walked back.

Tuesday, after two busy days, i decided to take it easy, relatively. I got some pastries and milkie and had breakfast at a little restaurant, the guy let me sit for just ordering a drink. We had a nice conversation, and he gave me the cheaper of the tourist prices, so that as kind. I hung out at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, found a cool cave niche to explore,but had no light do it, next time i'll come prepared and hopefully it will be open. There were a ton of Russian tour groups, so i had fun eavesdropping (what else do you do when people talk thinking no one else understand them?).Also, fun fact, the Garden Tomb is closed between 12 and 2 for quiet time, wish i knew that before i walked all the way over there, not fun. So i went and hung out at Zach's shop for a while, he always has pretty reliable news about everything going on and loves joking. I had my last falafel at a little place next to the hostel, run by cute older ladies who must be sisters and are super sweet. One of their sons came and talked to me, he lives in Sweden right now as a table tennis player, it was interesting. Then I went to lie on the grass at Teddy park right outside Jaffa gate. It was very pleasant just laying there and watching the kids play in the water, until some guy decided to come talk to me, luckily only the last half hour before i had to go. I don't know what it was with today that so many people felt like talking! He was Palestinian, and I told him I was Russian (sometimes i like to get away from the American stereotype), so english was out. So we had a passable conversation in Hebrew, that was interesting.
And then Jeff picked me up and we went to Hod Hasharon to Silvie's for dinner. And that's where i am now, just hanging out and relaxing.