Thursday, July 14, 2011

Candid experience in the Yafo Flea Market by Cara Mazor

In a country where every kid becomes a soldier, I have never felt like more of a child. Walking around the flea market today in Jaffa was definitely a juvenile experience. In the small alley filled with miniature stores overflowing with jewelry, clothes, and other merchandise, it is hard not to be tempted by all that is around you. With a man screaming in your ear on one side to buy his necklace, and another pulling your arm for you to come into his store to try on his scarf, it definitely was not an easy day. Let’s just say bartering is not my thing. I felt a wave of fear come over me as the man in the red polo was harassing me to purchase a necklace. When I finally gave in, the price was just not acceptable for me. However, I did not have the courage to try and lower the price. My first attempt at trying to lower the price by 10 shekels was horribly unsuccessful. I tried this bartering system, all while refusing to make eye contact with the man and speaking in a very soft voice. As he yelled and refused, I eventually gave up. I then took to Gabe to help me barter the price down to one that was reasonable and left the tiny cubicle of a shop, hoping never to return again. While Gabe and I are the same age and he is a good friend of mine, I almost felt as though he was protecting me like a parent as we walked through the flea market as he helped me read Hebrew on the walls, and barter semi-successfully. While I thoroughly enjoyed the day, it did make me feel childish. I also get that juvenile feeling when trying to interact with locals. Only knowing a few words of Hebrew does not help me feel like more of a mature adult. When I get that blank stare from shop owners, or people on the street who have absolutely no idea what I’m saying, it is rather humiliating. But aside from that, I do have a sense of mixed pride between my Jewish culture and my American culture that have both come together within the Holy Land. I may not speak Hebrew, and I may not fully understand Israeli culture, but I am Jewish and do belong in this country, no matter how young I may be.

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