Monday, March 20, 2006

Longest first day ever

As you know by now, I arrived in Israel safe and sound. Made it off the plane, though passport control and baggage claim. I came through the meeting point, but where was Spesh? I walked to the right...I walked to the left. Nope. There were a variety of tall young men with dark brown hair, but no Spesh. I wondered if I should get some money. I wandered far to the left and there he was, sitting down with a friend. I waved, he saw me and jumped up, surprised.

"When did you come out?"

"Just now."

"I didn't see you."

"Well, you wouldn't have, sitting way over here."

"Don't you have a black jacket? I thought you would be wearing a black jacket."

I glanced at my blue and white fleece, "No."

"Could you go back and get it?"

"Sure...just hang on!"

"I'm sorry, there was no excuse for that." He introduced me to the friend and she took my bags. I asked Spesh if I should get some money and he said I wouldn't need any for a while. Then I told him he needed to buy me a soda and he did.

We drove into Tel Aviv proper and dropped off the friend. Then we headed to the kibbutz.

The drive went in a blur though I tried to pay attention to the landscape. When we stopped for gas I demanded more money so I could buy water and a chocolate bar.

The family home was very 1970's. Small, neat and full of Danish modern furniture--reminding me of a few pieces that I have. The parents were extremely kind and welcoming and happy to meet me. There was a sister--who I didn't know much about, but who I liked right off. Over dinner, Spesh became completely silent. Except to complain about the potatoes, which were too salty.

After dinner, we went to a Purim party at the dining hall. Yes, it was a couple of days after Purim and it wasn't much of a party, but it was hoot. There was a light supper (of which we did not partake), some tasty cookies and a copious amount of alcohol. I had one drink and I was ready to go home.

By the time we got home, I could barely keep my eyes open. I think we watched part of a movie on tv with his dad and then I trundled myself off to bed around 10pm Israel time. As expected, I woke up around 6:45am. A very good sleep.

Spesh and I decided, vaguely, what to do that day. First, I talked to him about the bath. The bathroom, while small, was perfectly adequate--but it was of the type I've encountered in Holland where the whole bathroom is the shower. I'm scared of baths like that--how do you keep the whole room from getting soaked? The answer? You don't. You just minimize. And there is a mop right there to swoosh everything towards a drain in the center of the floor.

Oh, another thing about Israel--all floors in all houses are made of stone. I'd forgotten. I should have packed slippers. They're not optional around here.

After a quite enormous and tasty breakfast provided by Spesh's parents, he took me out to pick avocados. It was just a short walk from the house--but we could not find a single avocado. Spesh told me over and over that he had seen tons of them just the day before. But we were out of luck.

Instead, we took a long walk, through the fields, past some scary, alien looking trees that are grown for lumber (to make pressboard). We passed through a locked gate and finally, it was time to turn back. Spesh didn't want to retrace our steps, so we took a route a few yards up the hill, along a line of trees. Unfortunately, where this route met the fence, there wasn't a gate--we walked along the fence and then found ourselves on the side of a highway. I was not pleased and grumped at Spesh about it after about 15 minutes of highway walking.

We cut back towards the kibbutz and ended up at the dairy. The cows and calves mooed at us, but only the youngest ones weren't skittish of us. Spesh said, "The babies will suck your finger." Sure enough, it was true, and I walked around with some cow slobber on my hand for a while. Very cute, though.

After a visit to a nature preserve with a tiny spring--it also involved skirting a locked gate--and hanging out with some of Spesh's kibbutz friends--we plotted the rest of the day.

It was decided to drive to Nazareth and eat, then to Jerusalem. Before dropping me at the apartment Dad had rented for me, we would stop by and see Spesh's girlfriend, A, at her parents' house.

On the drive to Nazareth-- Spesh: When DrJ was here, I made up a story about Jesus jumping off that mountain. Then when we got to the top of the mountain--it was true!

I laughed and laughed.

We ran into hoards of Japanese tourists. Spesh said, "Do you think they know they're in a tourist area?"

I said, "Probably, but there are tons of locals around so they may not get it."

After we ate, we took a very long drive to Jerusalem.

We found our way to A's place. Very nice people. They fed us some kugel. While we were there, Dad called on Spesh's cell phone wondering where we were. We said we were on the way. A came with us to make sure we wouldn't get lost.

Spesh and A came in to meet Dad and Susan (stepmother). Handshakes all around! The place was big, new and very pleasant. Dan and Susan have a one bedroom; I have a studio. Smaller than the studios I've lived in, but much nice than your average hotel room.

Almost as soon as I arrived, after Spesh and A left, it was time to head over to B2's. We go there just in time for Havdalah.

It was great to see them. They were happy to see us too. There were hugs all around (except between the adult men and women--it's not permitted). It's another world but family is family. They're all so big and grown. Yowsa.

I finally had the thought that oldest nephew will potentially have babies soon. Scary. He is just much too young for that. Hopefully they will wait.

Grateful for: good friends and my long lost family.
Drop me a line.

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