But, now seems as good a time as any to go over some things that have happened since my move to the Middle East.
So, here is how it has gone down. Upon arriving in Eilat, we had a week full of Ulpan Hebrew to cover some language basics, and then we settled into our jobs and normal schedule / routine.
It works like this: Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we work at our hotels. Monday is Hebrew class. Tuesday is Hospitality Management class, followed by volunteering, and then an evening lecture or activity. Saturday is our day off.
Let's begin with Eilat itself. Yes, it is absolutely beautiful. And I've never lived so close to a beach or in such a hot climate for an extended period of time like this, which is awesome! But, it does have its quirks as well.. so without trying to make it sound like complaining (because I DO still LOVE it here)... here are some of the "funnier" things about the city...
- There is an airport in the middle of the city. This may seem convenient for people flying in, but it's a pain in the butt for those trying to get from one side to the other, as you have to walk all the way around. When the airport was built, Eilat basically only existed on the side of the Red Sea... now the other side is filled with housing developments / apartments and such. This, unfortunately, is where we live...
- ... but at least there's a bus! And it takes us door to door, from our apartment to the Hotel I work at, the King Solomon. The only downside is that it only comes once an hour! Boo.
- It's hot... really hot. I love the sun and the heat, but we're only in early May and we already have many consecutive days of 38-42 degrees celsius! I am quite curious to see what July is going to feel like. But at least there's...
- ... the beach! BUT the beach here is unlike any I've seen, in that the sand is not soft and pleasant, but rather very rocky... and because of the weather, extremely hot. So you basically always need to be wearing flip-flops. They also charge to rent beach chairs for the day, which is annoying, but I guess mostly logical. The Sea / Gulf are *very* beautiful though, with the clearest, calmest water I've seen... just a little too salty is all.
- The Post Office. Yes, that's right, *The* Post Office. I know Eilat is not huge, but come on... One Post Office for a whole city?! Really?!
- Stores being closed on Saturdays. Yes, I know this was to be expected because of Shabbat... it's just sometimes annoying that most things are closed during the day on our one day off.
- The price of sunscreen. I get it's because it's not made in Eilat, and being in a tourist city, demand is definitely very high... but $15 or more a bottle is a little excessive.
Ok, enough ripping on the city for now! Haha...
Work has been pretty alright. I won't get into too many details out of respect for my employer, given that this is on the internet and all... but I live the glamorous life of a waiter / bus boy in my hotel's dining room / buffet restaurant. This basically means I clear tables, refill coffee, set tables... no brain surgery or anything too too strenuous, aside from lugging around the sometimes quite heavy trays. The people I work with are quite fun though... two American girls and a guy from our group, and then an international cast of characters... lots of Israelis and Sudanese refugees / immigrants for the most part, some guys from Azerbaijan... it all makes for a very interesting dynamic. Some of them can speak English quite well... others, depending on the day and mood, it is either entertaining trying to figure out what they want... or a pain in the butt. My Hebrew, though, is slowly coming along, and hopefully I'll get some more study time in soon.
Our guests also come from all over... I'm really grateful, actually, that there is a huge number of French tourists in Eilat. They are always delighted with my ability to speak la langue Moliere, and I'm happy to have a conversation in someone else's first language (without them straining to find words).
So I've been having a pretty good time at the hotel, though I'm sure it will get better once I'm moved to where I've been told I'll work: Room Service. Actually, my future boss, the Room Service Manager, spent some time working in Edmonton. Yes, I said Edmonton. You are probably asking yourself the same thing I asked him. How the bleeping heck does an Israeli end up in Hell-Frozen-Over-monton?! He claims to have picked a company to work for and was willing to go wherever he had to for them... I think it may have been some IDF technique* to start training its soldiers for cold weather combat! Conspiracy alert! I just don't see any other logical explanation. But in either case, he's a cool guy, and probably much cooler now for having lived in Canada.
*Note to any IDF spies snooping this blog for suspicious activity: that last part was entirely a joke.
[to be continued after dinner]