Thursday, August 27, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #20 – fighting gives way to vacation, at long last. but not without a fight before departure. make that two.

my uplander turned into a kia carnival. gearing up for a fight...

A trip to the North
When I ordered our rental car and asked if it would be a KIA Carnival or a Chevy Uplander the lady excitedly told me that the fleet of KIA’s was old and no longer in use and that she had a brand new fleet of Uplanders, one of which she would send me. She would send me my Uplander early in the morning, the day we were scheduled to leave for the north.

The car arrived early, as promised. My 2004 diesel fueled KIA Carnival showed up before Bob finished his morning coffee. After raging to the rental people over the phone (they are now sending us an Uplander Sunday morning), he checked out the car with the guy who delivered it. Not happy with anything about the car, he asked the guy, “How does this tire look to you?” The answer, “Well, it’s not new.” Again, “But how does it look to you? I know it’s not new. Does it look good? I am taking my family for a 3½ hour trip north – does this tire look like it’s going to make it? Tell me what you think!”

In many (most?) restaurants in Israel, if you ask for ice you are often told not to worry, the drink is cold enough. The man answered Bob in similar (typical Israeli?) fashion. “Don’t worry. The tires are good enough.”

If you fight with the gas balloon man you may end up with no gas balloon.
This lesson was almost learned the hard way. Of course the gas company is demanding payment to move the gas balloon hookup to a kosher distance from the air conditioning machine. How my landlord avoided this issue up until now I do not want to know. While I was at school meeting with Becky’s principal (who was talking to the new olim children about how Israel is different from America in many ways, including the lack of carpeting in favor of stone flooring and the limited availability of hot showers), Bob was fighting with the gas man. When I called to check on him I frantically urged him to not fight since we CANNOT BE WITHOUT A GAS BALLOON. He had already figured this out and was in the process of making peace with the technician who had already threatened to walk out and leave us with no gas. Ultimately, he left us with 2 balloons and we paid for the balloons plus his fee for making the hookup kosher. We did this as we were watching our vacation tick away on the wall clock and as the gas man walked out the door, we (already packed and ready in the KIA) walked out with him.

Sachne – do pumpkin seeds on wet stone steps add traction or increase slippage?
There’s an amazing place to spend the day just west of Bet Sha’an on the way up to the north. On the map it’s called Gan Ha’Shlosha. We know it as Sachne. There are stone pools, stone water slides, waterfalls over stone and everywhere you need to walk, there are stone paths and stone steps. Surrounding all this stone is an expanse of grass and date trees and other vegetation. There are playgrounds every few hundred yards, parking is sort of “chofshee” (a free for all) and you are free to dine in the restaurant, buy food from the on-premises makolet (which sells, among other things, fresh pita, cans of olives, packages of humus, and Turkish coffee), you can bring your own picnic or you can even bring your own grill and enjoy bar-b-q. This last option is quite popular and every time we visit Sachne Bob kicks himself for not bringing a bar-b-q. It was a boiling hot day but the water was amazing. We got a sense of how Israeli we’ve become when someone started asking us if we’d watch their things and we thought they were asking us to watch their two year old and we were saying yes. We stayed until closing, which, itself, is something to see.

Sachne at closing – the Jews left Egypt with less.
Israeli’s know how to enjoy their free time. There is no question. They know how to be comfortable – they bring air mattresses to lay on, float on, play on, nap on, etc. Yes, the same air mattresses like what we were sleeping on. They bring everything you could want to eat on a hot day by the water. Pita, humus, olives, cucumbers. They bring mango and knives to cut the mango. They use their empty soda bottles to catch fish and then store the fish in their drink coolers. They bring chairs. Some bring tables. One guy had a table and chair fold up combo that we all stopped and stared at in disbelief. When I say they bring grills it’s not necessarily the really small disposable type. In fact, it’s most likely not. And so at closing time there is a parade of families leaving Sachne, each carrying its dismantled three-piece grill, air mattress, cooler, and chairs. Everyone is carrying something. From the youngest barefoot child (carrying a floaty or a 1.5 liter water bottle) to the oldest grandparent (most likely carrying out a chair or a drink cooler).

Bob always teases me when we go to the beach or the pool – he calls me a bag lady because I like to have a separate bag for everything – food, towels, change of clothes, water toys, etc. Watching the exodus from Sachne and thinking about all the things I’d like to bring next time we come, I felt validated in my bag lady ways.

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