- Falafel: I didn't think I'd say it, but falafel is delicious. I had a bad experience with it previously, but it's delicious here. Basically it is a little fried ball of mashed up chickpeas and spices. Then you put the falafel balls in a flat bread pita thing that has been prepared with hummus. After the falafel balls you put on a little salad (mine was a cucumber-tomato vinaigrette thing and a little lettuce). Then drizzle on a little olive oil. Fold it in half like a taco, and voila! You have a delicious falafel. One friend in the group lovingly calls it a Hebrew-ito.
- Shaban: He is the best! Shaban is a little shopkeeper that we ALL go to. He loves BYU students, and his shop on Christian Quarter road is like our little home away from home as we wander around the Old City. You can always count on him for air conditioning, a stool to sit on, a cup of juice, some pita, and plenty of good conversation! Plus, he has lots of fun things to look at in his store. Everything there is priced really well (probably only about half as much as every other merchant), and he's a really honest salesman. We know we are getting a good deal when we buy from him. And, if he doesn't have something in his shop, he can tell you where to get it for the best price. Conveniently enough, he usually refers you to his brother-in-law's shop across the street, but hey, why not keep in all in the family? Shaban also caters to the BYU crowd specifically by providing a bunch of exclusive LDS items like scripture cases and BYU tees. We love him.
- Markets: It's so odd to think that these markets that fill the streets of the Old City aren't just for tourists. The people of Jerusalem actually shop there for their daily items. I can't figure out how they find their favorite shops amid the chaos and know where everything is, but more power to them. One thing that I think is so ironic is the open market for bras and underwear. I feel like this is ironic because they are right in the Muslim quarter where women are covered from head to toe in clothing, either regular clothing or the long robes. So if they're so modest in dress and don't allow anyone to see their skin, let alone any signs of their underwear, how are they comfortable shopping for bras and panties right out in the open where everyone can see? I mean, I even get a little uncomfortable walking into Victoria's Secret, and I don't follow quite the same dress code as they do. Maybe only I think it's weird, but I do.
- Call to Prayer: One of the daily things that Muslims do is pray five times a day. To remind them to do this, they have a call to prayer (azan) that is broadcasted over loud speakers throughout the city. It is recitations of the Koran and other religious things in Arabic that I can't understand, but it is sung (or at least sounds like it is). Everytime is comes on, I'm definitely reminded that I'm in Jerusalem! It's actually really cool to hear it go off throughout the day. Except at 4:30 am. Since it is 5 times a day, they spread it out from morning to night, so the morning prayer is pretty early. The first few nights I was here, I would always shoot out of bed when the prayer would start at 4:30 because I had no idea what was happening! Luckily, I've calmed down a little bit and I've trained myself to sleep through it. Just for reference, the Center is in a predominantly Palestinian/Arab neighborhood, so there are multiple loudspeaker towers around the area. Basically, we are constantly being reminded to pray. If we were Muslim, we would be super devout, because there would be no way that we would ever miss a prayer.
- Roommates: My roommates are awesome! I really did get so lucky with girls I was put with. Whitney, Robin, and Amy are the cutest girls, and we all get along really well and just have a blast. Whenever I go out, at least one of them (but usually two) are always with me. It's been so great to be able to bond so quickly with these girls.
That's what I can remember right now, but I'll periodically do little posts like this to record the fun little things about the Holy Land. Love you all!