Tag Archive | Jerusalem

My whirlwind life

I have not written much in recent months, since our trip to the North with Renee and Barry,and it’s hard to say if that is because not much has happened or because too much has happened.I will explain.After we came back from Xiamen in July we thought we would stay here.WE put our apartment on the market and we waited.And waited.And got bored.And tried to imagine our life here in Israel,without travel,without China,without adventure.WE realized we are not ready for that yet. We thought about going elsewhere- maybe Mexico,or Panama,or Ecuador.All these places I know are seeking EFL teachers.I sent out CVs,I waited.I did some background reading,trying to visualize us sitting in each of these places.Anyway eventually we decided that since China only accepts foreign teachers up to the age of 60 we decided to give China one more shot.And so I got a job back in Xiamen again but this time at Jimei University, where we already have many friends. In the meantime,we thought,we will leave our house with an agent,and forget about the sale,till we get back.Then began the interminable visa processing,which seemed much more rigorous this time around,certainly more than the first year we went to Lin’an. This time they asked for all kinds of extra stuff, including a Police Clearance report. After much running around,our visas were done a whole month before we were due to leave.

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Snow on our balcony

Suddenly a buyer for our house popped up.They need the house quickly.They want us to vacate in two months! Since this happened a mere week before we were due to fly to Hong Kong, we explained that was “No can do”. However, they liked the apartment and wanted it,and we liked them.So finally we negotiated the deal and were due to sign last Thursday.(5 days before our departure) .Yossi,the laywer called on Thursday.”They can’t sign today – they haven’t finalized the sale of their own place”.Ok we thought never mind.WE will do it in the summer.Saturday night (2 days before our flight ) Yossi called again.(I gloss over the two day weekend when 25 cm of snow fell in Jerusalem and the city ground to a halt).Yossi said “Come to the office SUnday morning 9 am”.SO yesterday at 10am we finally signed the deal on our apartment sale,and tomorrow we fly back to Hong Kong and on to Xiamen.In July we return to pack up our house and vacate by August 5th,by which date we are officially homeless. My friend said,”You always do everything at the last minute,” .I don’t think it’s me,I think it’s just life.

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Mural in Downtown Jerusalem

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Where have I been and where am I going?

Apologies for the long silence! Of course I have been disorientated by leaving China, and in mourning for my China life.But never fear! I have been travelling and not sitting and crying.However I have definitely been a little stagnant too,as life at home is not life on the road.This is the difficulty that long-term travellers face,how to be in a “normal,routine” life at home,with all that entails,and how to get on with one’s  non-travelling friends and relations.This has been discussed at length by many a travel blogger so I won’t dwell on it.

But China beckons once again,and it seems that in March we will be back in Xiamen in the gainful employ of another university. Ssssssh,nothing is final yet! But fear not dear reader. You will now get a glimpse of our glamorous life in Israel and the wonderful places that you can visit here,if you are lucky enough to travel here.How can you pretend to be a traveller in your own country? Easy,just host some guests from abroad and you instantly become a tourist,traveller or onlooker.

So when our dear friends Barry and Renee arrived from Hawaii by way of Shanghai we were delighted to take the opportunity of showing them around this tiny but vibrant and diverse country.

We of course began with Jerusalem which has a wealth of sites for the historically minded traveller.We showed them the Haas Promenade in East Talpiyot which affords one of the best views of the Old City. We showed them the Mahane Yehuda Market with its jostling populace and wonderful fruit and spice stalls,and we enjoyed a great meal at the Lebanese Restaurant of my friend from Marseilles.And we explored the Old Train Station and the area of town where the Ethiopian Church and Russian Church stand practically side by side.Exploring these places with guests from abroad allowed me to view them with renewed pleasure and to appreciate the richness and complexity of this weird city I have lived in for the last 30 years.

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Russian Church in the Russian Compound,Jerusalem

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Ethiopian Church,Jerusalem

We showed them the lovely village of Ein Karem, one of my favourite places here, with its slightly Italian feel,its pretty churches and yuppy restaurants. The weather smiled on us and the sites were very photogenic.

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The Russian Orthodox Gorny or “Muscovy” convent of Ein Karem

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General view of Ein Karem from the steps of the Sisters of the Rosary Church.

We then continued down to the Dead Sea and Massada.I had not been there for a long time,and the site appeared much bigger than I remembered, and made for a very impressive day out.We even managed to get lost on the top of Massada and managed to miss the way out!

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Top of Massada

Next post will be about our wonderful trip up North to the Galilee and the Golan,and the Jacobs Ladder Folk Festival,which really deserves a blog post all of its own.! Stay tuned…..

Trotting back and forth-A Reflection

I use the word “Reflection” advisedly despite the fact that it may annoy some of my Israeli colleagues. Nevertheless it is the right word for today’s entry. Having come back to Israel from China to visit friends and family I find myself looking at my life and travels from a strange perspective.It is something on the lines of “Where do I belong?” “Where is my home?” and similar musings that frequently occupy travellers, nomads and expats. Defining myself as “British” or “Israeli” for example becomes increasingly more difficult as time goes on. answering the question “Where do you live?” also becomes problematic as we embark on our third year in China.

All this began by the remark of my best Jerusalem friend (you know who you are!) When I said that I am sitting on my suitcase in preparation for a return to China in 10 days’ time she remarked “Ruthie you have been sitting on your suitcase for a long time already!”  and of course that is really the truth. The little 2 and 3 week summer trips we did every year before China were just a quick fix that didn’t fix my travel bug.I thought that after a year in China I would be cured.But I was wrong. The longer we spend away the more difficult it becomes to settle into what most people see as a routine life.In fact the more I read other travel blogs the more I understand that today with the internet and all you don’t HAVE to stay put in one place.There are many who travel as a lifestyle choice and there are various jobs that allow you to do it.I have discovered a huge community of travel bloggers who do this for a living! They get sponsorships and they hop from one place to another semi-permanently. There are families travelling,there are thousands of EFL teachers who don’t have a fixed home.Of course this might not  appeal to everyone,but it’s something to think about.

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My Jerusalem best buddy

 

Also when you come here temporarily you can be in and out at the same time.Involved and separate, a tourist and a resident.I can look at the people and the places with a more detached eye. I can see the city that used to be my home as I first saw it as a tourist and without the frustrations that I had started to feel before I left.

I can see beauty of places and not get uptight about being pushed in lines at the post office.I am transient, I am leaving soon.

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Jerusalem Mural

Jerusalem Day


Yom Yerushalaim- what does that mean to me? Hmmm…. Well I have looked at a lot of other blogs ,and I can see mine looks pretty lame. I don’t have any cool pictures or videos on mine. So today I shall try and rectify that. I am still not sure why I am doing this or who is likely to read it ever (including me??) but anyway I will give it a try. So with the historic date in mind here goes.
If you google search for Jerusalem, you always find pictures with the Temple Mount slap bang in the middle. But that is not MY Jerusalem.I have memories of the city as it once was, cosmopolitan, fun, full of life,not as it is becoming, poor,dirty and neglected.And the more I think of leaving the more it makes me angry- why should I have to leave the city to the Haredim and the Arabs??That’s a rhetorical question, guys.