Days Four and Five : Shalom from Beersheba, Israel
Trip Start Dec 15, 2008
11Trip End Jan 18, 2009
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We actually got here last night, but didn't figure out til todaythat we actually have WIRELESS access in our apartment and so could be connected to the world again !
Here's the lowdown on the past couple of days:
Day Four : Paris to Beer Sheva (aka Beersheba, Beersheva), Israel, Thurs. Dec. 18
Ronan correctly noted that we began this day in a taxi in the dark and ended this day in a taxi in the dark.In between was a LONG travel day involving a two-hour delay in Charles DeGaulle (if you have to be stuck in an airport, CDG is definitely an exceptionally clean, modern, interesting one !). Ronan and Mimi had the most bizarre "kids meals" on Air France -- involving apple sauce in pouches, little popsicles made of cream cheese (which Mimi rather liked, actually), and some watermelon jelly things that were too much even for my candy-junkie tastes. Neither of them cared for the olive/potato salad in the kids meal, but I thought it was lovely ! They were both very good on a long, delayed flight. The view of the Alps as we flew over was amazing -- we didn't expect to be able to see them, and they are just beautiful -- snow-covered, majestic, etc. Makes us want to see them up close some day ! When we finally got to Tel Aviv, our big jolly bear of an Israeli cab driver picked us up and by 9 pm we were at home in Beer Sheva. Our apartment is in a brand new building close to the university, so new that there was still plastic on all the chairs and appliances. Our university "liason" is an adorable young Israeli woman named Rozalin (Rozy), with whom Mimi promptly fell in love. She is very helpful and sweet.
We also found out later that the big jolly bear of an Israeli cab driver is actually her father ! So much the better. The two of them went out of there way to find me an open store while Sean got Mimi to bed so that the kids could have milk and bread and cereal in the morning ! A long and trying day, but great to finally be "home" !
Tired / Cranky Meter for Day Four :
I am realizing we may need a more finely calibrated tired / cranky meter -- for those times when we are tired but not cranky or cranky but not tired, or, as we have noticed happening, when we are tired and cranky at one point in the day and then rebound ! But for now, we'll make due with an average figure...
Mimi : Poor Miss Mimi. We drag her half way around the world, deny her naps, and then have the audacity to rate her tired / cranky level. Nevertheless, she wins today's contest with a whopping 7.5.
Sean : Close behind Mimi with a 7.4, mostly just because of the sleep deprivation. I hope. Not at all because of what I got us into, I hope !
Ronan: Amazingly, hanging tough. He is a champ. I'd say he was not above a 3, even at the end of the day !
Kate: Remember, Kate is not allowed to go above a 5. But she was working that 5 for all it was worth on day four!
Day Five: Beer Sheva, Israel !
Wow ! How amazing it was to wake up to sunshine, blue skies, 72 degrees, and the desert ! We really couldn't see much when we arrived the night before, so it was really cool to wake up somewhere totally new and unexpected. There is a great view from our 10th floor apartment, you can see where Beer Sheva ends and the Negev desert begins.
After breakfast we went out in search of more supplies -- and found ourselves...in Russia ! Just with more palm trees and cacti ! Really, our part of the city looks just like Russia, it is uncanny. Kind of shabby and dusty but intriguing ! Also, stray dogs and cats that Mimi wants to adopt (no, no, Mimi, sorry ! don't touch the stray cats !). The one important difference -- signs are in Hebrew ! Who knew ? And guess what ? Everyone speaks Hebrew ! It is really something to be totally unable to read a sign or understand what anyone says -- we were lucky to be able to always get by in Russia, so it is a new thing to have to communicate in sign language and writing numbers ! There are lots of people who do speak some English or more likely, Russian, so that is good, but so far all the taxi drivers are mostly Hebrew speakers. But no one seems to care.
There is a little shopping center (I use that term loosely) near out apartment, with a fairly close approximation of a supermarket -- again, more like the Russian version than ours ! We were able to find almost everything we needed right there. There is also an amazing bakery (sort of half-European, half-Israel, with fresh pita and croissants !) right there and a taxi stand. Sean stayed with the kids to nap while I went out in search of a hot plate - I never did learn how to scramble eggs or boil water in a microwave ! This involved taking a taxi to a shopping center known to all -- Hebrew, Russian and English speakers alike-- as "BIG". So, BIG, turned out to in fact be big, and did have a hot plate. Le voila. I also managed to buy a phone card and call the chair of the Middle East Department at Ben Gurion U, who had asked us to come over for dinner for Friday night. We took a taxi to their place, a beautiful suburb of Beersheva, and had a lovely evening with Relli, his wife Michal, and their daughters Amalya, Yael, and Ela (3 and 1 1/2 year old twins !).
Ronan and Mimi loved being in a house full of toys and they were very kind and welcoming to us. They even let Mimi take a bath with the girls since we don't have a tub in our apartment and she was getting kind of crunchy ! (We're not sure what our plan for future baths for Mimi is....I'll let you know !). A lovely way to spend our first real night in Beersheva. Tomorrow is "shabbat", and so should be a nice, quiet day. We need a day to breathe and catch up before the work week starts on Sunday. Isn't that weird ? Crazy Israelis, working Sunday to Thursday. Did they clear that with the rest of the world ?
Before we sign off, we want to thank you all for your messages and emails. It is SOOOOOO good to hear from you all here. It gives us heart and courage and makes us feel not so far away. So please keep them coming -- we really appreciate it so much !
Those of you in the NorthEast, stay warm and cozy -- we can't believe Christmas is less than a week away. Ronan is excited about Hanaukah -- he has already grasped the 8 days of presents thing pretty quickly. Rozi told us that apparently the big food here for Hanaukah is deep fried anything, especially doughnuts (for the oil factor). Sounds good to us !!
XOXOXOOX Kate, Sean, Ronan and Mimi
Where I stayed
Our apartment in the "Avia" building : wish I knew the address !