Thursday, October 3, 2013

Church-ception and Spelunking!

Finally! I found a moment with enough bandwidth to upload three whole photospheres! I'm so proud of myself.

Wow, where to even start. A week is a long time out here. Classes have been pretty hectic lately. However, they're still not as bad as my CS 236 class last Fall. Nothing will ever be as difficult as that, because at the end of the day, I can just choose not to do a piece of work and cut my losses. But in CS 236, every project built upon the previous one, so everything had to be perfect every time. And if not, every assignment afterward would automatically fail. So yeah, it's stressful sometimes, but never, ever so bad as it was a year ago.

Some good news from inside the center itself:
  • They finally finished remodeling the classroom area. You didn't even know it was being remodeled, did you? That's because I never mentioned it. But now it's done, and it's great! It honestly has given the whole place a different feel, especially because the windows all along the sides make it lighter than other places where we'd usually study. Plus, it has carpet. Soft carpet! Ahh...
  • In addition to making photospheres of our adventures, my other Memories Committee job is to gather photos from everyone. So I plugged my external HD into one of the lab computers and made it accessible to all of the other ones through the network. Once I did that, I set the background on each computer to shuffle through those photos. The cool thing is that as soon as one person adds a picture to the collection, it starts showing up in the slideshows on all of the computers! Oh, I miss being nerdy. I frequently have minor programming withdrawals.
But aside from the time I've spent living in this wonderful little paradise of a center, I've got to experience some great things! Here are some tales from outside the center. I have three pictures in particular, which will save me 3,000 words. That's so much less for you to read! You should thank me. But make sure to check them out in sphere view using the link below each picture or you're totally missing the point!

  • Ethiopian Church - On Sabbath (Saturday, remember?) a few of us went out to see the Ethiopian Church. It was totally silent inside, and there were carpets laid out all over the floors. In the center of the church was a basilica (which is pretty much a really old name for church / cathedral) which we couldn't enter, because it was fenced off. But we could look inside that dark doorway and see what looked like a shrine to Mary and Jesus. There was also a wedding shoot going on outside with a beautiful young Ethiopian couple! Congrats to them.
Ethiopian Church in central Jerusalem.
Notice the building inside the building.

  • Zedekiah's Cave - The bomb-diggity! Only 10 shekels for students. It goes something like 235 meters back (770 feet). So it was a lot of fun going down tunnel pathways and opening up to yet another big room! This is the supposed location where the rock for Solomon's temple was quarried out.

Zedekiah's cave, a quarry beneath the old city.

  •  Bell Caves - Just as bomb-diggity as Zedekiah's cave! They get their name from the bell-shaped domes, which are topped off by a hole. We came here with the whole center as part of our field trip across the low hills of Israel. this was also a quarry for... something. Acoustics are great. Lots of singing here. And it's familiar if you've seen Rocky III :)

The Bell Caves.
This should ring a "bell" if you've seen Rocky III

  • Underground Houses - Seriously, this week has felt like I lived in a movie. While visiting some of the more severe areas on our Monday field trip, we got to explore a series of underground neighborhoods carved out of the stone. I wish I could have explored it all! Some parts were fenced off, and some parts we just didn't have time to check out. But seriously, it was like a movie. I took a 1-minute video and ran down to the bottom of just one small finger of one of these neighborhoods. But there was so much more than what I could record! It was quite the adventure wandering through these cistern-like caves that once kept the people here alive!
Jared Sybrowsky and me at the entrance to just one of the caves

Next week we're leaving for Turkey. Last night they gave us an orientation on what to expect, and I'm pretty sure that Turkey is going to be one of the BEST EXPERIENCES EVER!

Stay tuned!

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