Last week after Jeff was attacked by the washer machine I washed some dishes and attempted to make some ful medames. It is a dish that Jeff and I had tried in Morocco. It is traditionally a breakfast dish from Egypt consisting of cooked fava beans in cumin and olive oil. Tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, and parsley are also typically added.
With my dull knife and skinny kitchen it took a lot of time to just prep the vegetables. I hadn’t even started cooking. Jeff stepped in and started to cook the beans but our burner did not produce a lot of heat and cooking took much longer than expected. Jeff thought it was delicious. I thought it was just okay.
The next morning we woke up thinking we would accomplish something but our horrible apartment once again proved us wrong. We went out to get some coffee and this time tried a new coffee shop. They had seating outdoors so we sat in some shade and tried to enjoy our coffee. Some old guy walks over to us and starts screaming at us in Hebrew. I’m not sure what we did to upset him but we got up and sat somewhere else. He followed us and continued to scream at us until the owner came and chased him away. The day was off to a great start.
We went back to the apartment to do some work but Jeff had problems with the wifi. The wifi in our apartment is running at 4 megabytes a second. The lowest plan in Israel is 15 megabytes per second (for reference most plans in the United States are between 100 and 150 megabytes per second). It's quite obvious there is a problem with our wifi. We got a call from our host who is currently in the U.S. He apologized for the problems we had with the washer and wifi but said we’d just have to deal with it until he returns to Israel at the end of the month.
After Jeff had enough with the wifi he started making us some shakshuka for dinner. A dish that should take about an hour to make ended up taking four hours due to the crappy appliances we have been left to work with. The food was delicious but the four hour wait soured the meal.
The next day Jeff woke up a little before me and went out to the living room. I got up a little later and saw that Jeff was already having a bad day.
He had not forgotten about the unusable gas stove in our apartment or the fungus filled teapot. He had not forgotten about the washer filled with sulphur smelling water. He had not forgotten the hours we spent trying to cook in the apartment, the speed of the wifi, or the barely functioning air conditioner.
Jeff said angrily, “I don’t want to live here for three months, I don’t. The bed makes my back hurt. We don't even have real pillows (this is true)!”
I just sat there looking at him. He asked me what I thought. I told him I honestly didn't know because we hadn't been here long enough to know.
I told him he had a good idea that we should find a coffee shop to work from during the day and spend as little time in the apartment as possible.
We did just that and Jeff was smiling again. I found a coffee shop/ bookstore called Tmol Shilshom that apparently a lot of Israeli writers have written their books from. It has a great working atmosphere. We decided to give ourselves a break from cooking that night. We went to a restaurant Jeff had been wanting to try since we arrived called Hatzot.
There specialty was a dish of organ meats. Chicken liver, spleen and heart! My carnivore boyfriend was extremely happy eating his food and my tofu dish was very tasty too.
After dinner we walked around for a bit. Jeff was happy and smiling. “I love Jerusalem” he said.
I smiled wondering how long it would last.
The next day we went to the coffee shop again to do our work. On theway back to the apartment we had to pick up some ant killer. The ant poison came in a syringe shaped container. Jeff shot up the ants with it and then we rested for Shabbat. This time we included grape juice. But by the end of the night Jeff was struggling again. Since coming to Jerusalem we have both had really bad allergies and they seem to be the worst when we are in our apartment.
That night I had the Mister Ed theme song stuck in my head. This is what our life has become!
For Shabbat we met with our friends Abe and Agata again. We walked around a different area then before and they showed us the Jerusalem YMCA, which is actually a beautiful building.
Jeff was ready to leave for the states again just telling Abe and Agata our apartment woes. Agata said she didn't know anyone in our neighborhood who didn't have problems with their apartment. Jeff and I found this kind of strange since Abe was the one who suggested that neighborhood to us. Abe told us, "that area used to be kind of a slum but it's still a cool area." Agata butted it, "please Nachlaot [the name of our neighborhood] is for squatter!" Thanks Abe! Abe and Agata strongly suggested we try and find another apartment.
We walked back to our apartment and waited for Shabbat to be over. Jeff looked for some new apartments. One was across the street from us and they could show it to us Monday or Tuesday. The outside of the apartment alone looked far better than ours so I was getting excited.
We thought Shabbat was over. The sun had set. It was dark out. Still nothing was open when we went to find something to eat that night. Jeff looked up on his phone to see if there was something we were missing. Apparently the closing of Shabbat is not official until there are at least three stars in the sky! Some places don't bother to open again until Sunday. We went to Cafe Bezalel which is one of the few places that stays open during Shabat. Some Orthodox Jews stand outside it Friday nights and sing songs in protest.
Jeff and I both ordered pasta and when the food came Jeff whips out a bottle of Tabasco he had been carrying in his pocket. Jeff has been having hot sauce withdrawals and was sneaking shots earlier that day. Now he carries it in his pocket.
Sunday we went to the Hadassah Medical Center and saw the Chagall Windows. Marc Chagall is my favorite artist, and seeing those windows made my day and my week. Chagall made the windows for the synagogue inside the hospital. He did 12 windows, one for each of the 12 tribes of Israel.
After seeing them and listening to the short audio I want to study them more. I felt so inspired by them.
After that we went to Jerusalem’s zoo. The visitor's center was of course in the shape of Noah’s Ark.
The zoo had some really cool animals. Some animals I had never even seen before. My favorite was the pygmy monkeys. They also had cockroaches in one exhibit which I didn't care to see but Jeff made sure I did.
We got home that day and the guy that was supposed to show us the apartment across the street refused to do it in the morning or evening as Jeff had requested. He said the holidays are coming and he has other apartments to clean and manage. Jeff had looked at other apartments in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv but could find none for the days we were looking for. If we were going to stick it out in Jerusalem for three months it was going to have to be in this apartment.
When I woke up Monday morning it was clear again that Jeff looked unhappy. I told him we could go back. I remembered how difficult it was in Kenya to make a phone call. Even in Korea there was that constant feeling of loneliness. It would never be home. Only temporary.
Jeff decided to postpone the conversation and we left for our coffee shop. Jeff did a lot of thinking in the bathroom while we were there because when he came back he told me he wanted to stick it out for three months. I had permission to remind him of this the next time he was fed up with the place. And so we remain. More adventures to come.