On Tuesday, I was to go to Tel Aviv, meet Spesh, then travel to the Kibbutz where his parents live (and where he grew up). Since he was stuck in a meeting that would start at 4pm, I planned to go later in the day. In the morning, I packed up and moved my things to Dad's apartment. Then we went to breakfast, Susan joined us afterwards.
Oh, maybe you want to hear about the wedding? Right. I probably shouldn't skip that part…the problem is, it was exactly like all the other weddings. Sure, the bride's dress was perfect, but the meal was the same (mediocre), the dancing was the same (ritualistic) and the noise level was the same (extremely loud). I recognize more people now but I didn't have meaningful conversations with anyone (due to noise) and when Susan wanted to leave early, just after the bride's first round of dancing, I agreed. We three, Dad, Susan and I, actually stayed up pretty late discussing family matters, but we were hardly exhausted the next day. And staying up until midnight talking doesn't really compare to staying up until 6am dancing. I don't know if we were missed or if our early departure looked bad—I hope not—but I was a lot happier not being there. I took many pictures, though, and maybe later when it's easier to upload, I'll share a few.
So, that was Monday night. Monday during the day, I just hung out. I wasn't needed for anything. Dad did a lot of taxi-ing, though. Sadly, I did not get my hair done, but it didn't matter a lick.
Tuesday, after our breakfast, Dad and I drove up to my brother's house. Dad was supposed to go to lunch with my nephew, the oldest kid in the Israeli family. I hung around the house after they left (with the wife and one of the kids, the other was napping) and enjoyed some time with my second niece, her baby, and our friend Yanki (10) and his little sister, Ricki (4). Yanki had performed a dance on stilts at the wedding and he reproduced the performance for us and had me make a video of it (you want to see it? Maybe I'll post it—but it's a full three minutes! If I can figure out how to excerpt, eventually, I might put up a snippet). Yanki is a good friend of the family and I like spending time with him, even though we don't have a common language. He also made eggs and salad for my youngest niece. Charming.
A bit later in the afternoon, after Yanki saw me taking a picture off their balcony of the building progress of the wall (not much since last time), he said he could take me on a walk to see something more worthy of a picture (that was translated). Off we went—Yanki, Ricki, Adina, her 8-month-old, Ora's 1-year-old (last two in a double stroller) and me. Huzzah! It wasn't the walk Yanki originally planned, due to the stroller, but it was still a hike, pretty fun, with the walking kids making a lot of stops to play with junk and show me pine cones of different sizes along the way. Perhaps I'm a big kid to them? It was one of the nicest times I've had here so far. Adina is the easiest to talk to of my family, the stroller kids mostly slept, and Yanki and Ricki are the sweetest people you've ever met.
I was a little worried that Dad would be waiting for me when we got back, since our walk ended well after 4pm, but we actually beat him home by a few minutes. Soon after, he took me to the bus station so I could head to Tel Aviv. That's where things started to go wrong.
I bought a bus ticket with no trouble. Spesh had given me directions from the bus station to his place via a city bus. "Take the 4, ask for my street, get off there and you'll recognize it." He'd described where I should catch the bus too. When I arrived at the Tel Aviv bus station it looked nothing like he described. When I called him, we figured out that I was at the other Tel Aviv bus station—whoops—and needed to take another bus, which I did. But when I got off the bus, I didn't recognize anything. I called Spesh again. He wasn't sure where I was either. I was on the right main street but he didn't recognize the cross street. He asked if I'd crossed a couple of streets—I didn't know. I got very frustrated and I just started walking. Oh, and I hung up on him. I tried to find a map but you can't buy them in drug stores here. A map would have solved my problem. Spesh called again. I told him I'd crossed the streets he'd mentioned. He said, "Oh, that means you're going in the wrong direction. You need to take the 16 bus." I said, "Forget that, I'm getting a taxi." I was at his place within 10 minutes.
So, wrong bus station, wrong bus stop, wrong direction. Sigh. It's no fun getting lost in the dark in a strange city. The good news is that street crime is rare in Israel, so I always felt safe, just very, very frustrated.
I had dinner with Spesh and his girlfriend at a little couscous place where they've taken me before. We ate well and had a pleasant conversation. They made a bed for me in the living room and I slept relatively well.
The plan for the next day was for me to take a train to meet Spesh at his office, since he was leaving early for work. We'd have lunch, I'd hang around, and then we'd get on the train to the kibbutz. In the morning, I chatted with Spesh's cousin. She also made me breakfast. I went out for coffee then walked down to the beach. It was a lovely, warm, breezy day. I rolled up my jeans and waded in the water. I watched the bathers and took some pictures. I sat in the sand and read my book while drinking a slushy coffee.
When the time came, I took a bus to the train station. I was running late but I made it on time to catch my train—except that I got on the wrong train. I figured it out, eventually, and ended up losing an hour. SIGH.
So, instead of meeting Spesh at 1:30 for lunch, I met him at 2:30. We still had a nice time. He toured me all around the campus, which he compared unfavorable to most US campuses, but I was impressed. I wish I'd taken the camera, but oh well. I later found out my niece, Adina, lives in the same town. I wish I'd known—I could have spent less time in Tel Aviv and gone to visit her. Next time?
Around 5pm, we headed to the kibbutz. Spesh's parents were happy to see me, and I them. Both of his younger sisters are living there too, in their own houses, and they each have babies. More babies! I was very happy to meet the newest member of my adopted Israeli family. That's really how it feels when I see them—like I've known them all my life and I'm coming home. It's good to have family everywhere.
Next morning, I said goodbye to Spesh. He left before me to get the train. It was decided that I would take a bus directly to Jerusalem to save time and transfers. It was a good idea, except that the bus was 45 minutes late and took half an hour longer than scheduled. I should have taken the train—I would have had a little more time with Spesh and been able to wait indoors. My bus wait occurred on the blustery edge of a busy highway—very unpleasant.
Back in Jerusalem, I got a bite to eat and took another bus to my brother's house. That trip actually occurred without incident. Finally.
The rest of the day, I hung around the house, talking to whichever family members were around. I had a good talk with my sister-in-law and with one of my nieces. Later, Yanki and Ricki showed up and we had fun hanging out. Eventually, Dad and Susan arrived, and even later, we went back to their place. The rested, I wrote, we changed, and we went back to my brother's neighborhood for one of the celebratory dinners. It was rather unpleasant. Actually, I liked most of the food, but they had the screens between the men and the women, which I find appalling. The men would give speeches and we women were shushed, even though we could see the speaker. Often, we couldn't understand them either, since they spoke in Hebrew. Even when a speech was given in English, though, they took a long time to come to the point. Including my brother. Sigh.
We left early, which meant 11:30pm. Darn thing didn't start until 9:30pm. I actually slept pretty well and if it weren't for the necessity of getting up early to pack, I might have slept past 9am. Re-adjusting is going to be painful.
Today, it was breakfast with Dad, packing, waiting for one brother, writing. Last night, work actually needed me and I couldn't do what I need to do remotely. So, despite checking my email regularly, everything will just have to wait until I get back. No big deal, right? Despite the panic about my absence, nothing is going to happen while I'm gone and being gone won't cause any tragedies. Sheesh.
Ok, on to the next event!
Grateful for: a very full visit.