10.04.2011 - 11.04.2011 12 °C
I am back, my dear friends, after a looong week holiday, Pesach! (Passover) Can I just tell you how much I LOVE bread? Pesach ended yesterday at 9:50pm, having started in the evening Monday last week. This morning, I bought a little loaf of BIO bread and ate half of it. That's how happy I was. And for lunch today, I made pasta. The first two days I spent by Danielle. Dede, her and her husband's old Tunisian friend, came for the first night. Let me tell you, it was quite funny! Dede is half deaf, so he likes singing Pesach tunes to himself and starting on the Haggadah before Danielle is ready. Danielle served some traditional Tunisian Pesach fare, such as a soup that looks a bit like our version of cholent, with 17 vegetables! Poor Danielle, having to cut up all those veggies...she also served lamb boulettes, which I really didn't like. I hate lamb in general, so this was no different. I tried to gulp them down to please her. But, I found out, I can manage eating dark meat from a lamb leg, which is also traditional on Pesach. Danielle also did a funny prayer by picking up the Pesach basket (with the matza and the other Pesach foods) and spinning it over my head. She had me do the same for her, and we did it for Richard, her husband, too. During those first two days, I walked to school without anything and just sat in class, trying to absorb lessons. That didn't work so well, but at least I didn't get marked off for not being there, and it helped pass the time. You know, two Yom Tov days (festivals, like Shabbat, where you can't do work) is really difficult! Danielle and I took walks, too, so that helped. My birthday was on the Shabbat in between the 4 Yom Tovs. No bread exceptions here! Danielle made me a surprise "cake." She bought a little loaf of Pesach cake, sliced it up, put fruit slices on top of it, and put marzipan at the very top. Mmm! I hadn't had marzipan for a long time! She also bought me a Jewish holiday cookbook, which includes both Ashkenazi and Sephardi recipes, even some of the ones she uses! I was very happy! That was so nice of her!!
In the evening, I went out to Hyde Out Bar with Caroline, her school friend Mark, Daniela, Sam, and Vanessa. A few of our friends were in London for the weekend and couldn't join. Instead of the bar and dance floor kind of party, apparently that night was polyglot night. We were made to write our names on name tags and "hello" in the languages that we spoke. Then, everyone would just talk to one another. I met a Russian Jewish guy from NY, Vadim, 31 years old and working at the Ecole Normale Superieur (Grand Ecole!) of Paris. This is one of Paris's most prestigious schools. I couldn't remember exactly what it is that he did there, but probably something smart haha! The next day, Sunday, my prayers for no rain helped, and G-d gave me a sunny, warm afternoon to have my birthday picnic at Chateau de Vincennes on the east side of the city. There really is a chateau (castle) there! It's not like Versailles, but it's a castle nonetheless! We picked a grassy spot near it and had a wonderful time! Caroline, Mark, Amir, David (the Moroccan Jew from Lions Pub!), Daniela, and Sam. Caroline was so cute - she went to the Jewish quarter to find food (it being Easter and everything was closed) and bought me a Pesach chocolate chip cake loaf! David happened to have Pesach Nutella, which we used for my cake icing. Then, Amir wrote Mazal Tov in Hebrew on it. Best cake ever!! Caroline had a funny slip up, though. She also bought lemonade at the kosher store, but when she tasted it, it was gross! I looked at the bottle and saw "jus du citron" / lemon juice written on it!! It wasn't lemonade at all! It was lemon juice, used for cooking! Poor Caroline! But, to support her, we all had a taste!
The last two Yom Tov days (Monday and yesterday), I spent by Pessy's family in the Parisian suburbs. That was super nice. I got to meet two more of Pessy's sisters - Bracha, from NY, and Sterna, who is studying in seminary in Israel. Also, my roomie for the two nights was Bracha Weiss, their cousin from North Carolina who is also studying in Israel. So now, I know a total of 8 Gourevitch girls! I'm missing two - the one living in Sweden (!) and one living in Israel. Chami and Miriam also came with their kids. So there was a lot of commotion in the house! I am not used to so many kids, I didn't even know what to do! Miriam's daugher, Zeldeleh (Zelda - yes, this is a Jewish girl's name!), asked me to tell her stories. I'm not good at making any up, and I don't know any religious ones, so I used the classic secular story templates, such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Mowgli, and the Princess and the Frog, adjusting them for a religious girl's little ears! It was so funny! For example, instead of the prince having to kiss Sleeping Beauty to wake her up, I told Zeldeleh that a talmid chacham (Torah scholar) had to come and say a verse from the Torah to wake her up! I loved seeing the little girl's open mouth, in suspense, during story time! I've never had to tell stories before :-)
And now, to continue my Irish fairytale:
New Facebook photo album for this post:
Sunday, April 10 (after leaving Belfast and Damien):
Making our way north of Belfast to the coast (English Channel!), we passed Carrickfergus! This reminded me of the song that I used to listen to from Charlotte Church’s CD when I was younger. And now I got to pass by the very place about which she was singing! We put on Jo-Anna’s CD in the car. Daniela and I recognized only a couple of songs were from the bar night, but the rest were pretty nice, too. What a beautiful green coastline we saw before our eyes! It was magic! Around every bend, there were more and more gorgeous green cliffs, jutting peninsulas, foggy with tranquility…We stopped at the roadside a couple hours into our trip to take photos of the ruins of what I imagine was a watchtower, wavering on a hill by the water. Basically, there were two crumbling walls left, facing each other. It was no bigger than Danielle’s French bathroom! Henry and I decided to climb up to it. First, we had to go down a steep hill. There was so much mud; I got my sneakers all gross! It’s a wonder that my long skirt survived (who does this stuff in a skirt???!!!) I went to wash my sneakers in the cold ocean water. Then, Henry and I finally made it up the hill to the watchtower. There were lots of sheep grazing nearby. Henry had me take photos of him shooing them away. They had such funny black faces and red numbers on their wool!
Our destination for the night was (London)Derry. I’ll explain later why I put London in parenthesis. On the way, we stopped by a famous rope bridge, but just as we got there, it closed! Bummer! Nevertheless, there were great photo opportunities from the parking lot of a beautiful little island floating not far from the coast. We were not to be disappointed…a little while down the road was Giant’s Causeway, perhaps one of the wonders of the world. It is a bunch of hexagonal and octagonal rocks, stacked on one another. Very hard to describe with words, so I will refer you to my facebook album. There is a legend that the rocks were stacked by a giant, trying to get to Scotland to escape another giant. Amazingly enough, across the channel, the Scottish coast also contains similar rocks. Wonders of nature!
With all the winding, small roads, we made it to (London)Derry at night, and we were still only on the northern coast. Thankfully, we found a great, cozy hostel called Paddy’s Palace (kind of a weird name, though) and fell asleep quite soon.
Monday, April 11
(London)Derry is a very special place, and one can see it in its name. The Unionists (loyal to the UK) call it Londonderry. The Republicans (loyal to a united Ireland) call it Derry, or even “Free Derry.” Damien is from Derry. The city is actually separated by an old castle wall. On one side live the Unionists, on the other, the Republicans. Crazy! In the morning, we all went to the wall and walked all along it. It was crazy seeing the differences on both sides. We were staying on the Derry side, where Irish flags were flying and IRA/Republican murals could be seen everywhere. The Irish Republicans are revolutionaries who would gladly uphold any people feeling oppressed. So, of course, there were also our friends Che Guevara, the Basques, and the Palestinians, represented by flags. On the Unionist side, the UK flag was flying, Unionist murals were scattered, and the curbside was painted red, blue, and white. I wonder if people go to work on either side, or if everyone just sticks to their own area…
Our goal for the end of the day was to make it to Galway, on the western coast. Damien recommended it, extolling it to no end. We didn’t find it to be too magical, but maybe that’s because we came on a Monday night. Henry stayed in at the hostel while Daniela and I went to the King’s Head Bar. There were two guys playing chill music and singing. Jack Johnson was on, Galway Girl (Daniela’s favorite song from the movie P.S. I Love You), the Beatles, Bon Jovi, the Doors, and Simon & Garfunkel. Then, the bartender sang Sinatra’s Love song; he had a fantastic voice! Daniela and I ordered fruit cider. Mmm!