Daily life in Israel...

Trip Start Jan 07, 2006
1
6
18
Trip End Jun 2006


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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Shalom!

Just came back from a trip driving around Northern Israel - Galilee/Golan area. Went to the beautiful beaches north of Haifa and then inland to the mountains and countryside. We went to an amazing restaurant that was set up high in the mountains near Tzvat (an interesting religious Kabbalistic town), with full wrap-around windows overlooking the magnificent view below, where we were seated on persian carpets and pillows and fed a feast. It snowed there a few days ago (it was all gone by the time we came), but it's a big ordeal in this country. When I was volunteering in Tel Aviv for a day, we actually drove by a park downtown where they had transported a truckload of snow from Mt. Hermon - Israel's only ski mountain (93% of the mountain is actually in Lebanon!) - for the kids to play in! Our ambulance driver told us about how they had done that when he was a kid on the sidewalk, and it actually created a traffic jam, as cars passing by stopped to see the site or have a little snowball fight!

I haven't been able to catch much of the winter Olympics here as it does not air very often (even though we spend a lot of time watching tv at the station in between calls). They don't quite have the same passion for winter sports here as they do in Canada. Israel's only ice rink is up North in Metula, and it is called no other than Canada Centre!

My days on the ambulance are still variable... some days are intense, while others are filled with naps, Israeli television, snacking and chats with my driver and other volunteers. I have days with great drivers who engage me in conversation, make an effort to teach me hebrew and about the ambulance work, who are interested in hearing about life in Canada. And then I have days with drivers, who could care less about the job, trying to kill as much time as possible, stopping for shwarma and burekas (yummy cheese or potato filled pastries) 3 times in a shift and visiting their friends at shops and gas stations- and just mumbling orders to me, the lowly foreign volunteer. I figure it evens out of in the end, and I learn something from every experience - especially a lesson on how to treat others!

One of my recent memorable days started with transporting a little 3 month old baby with bronchitis, wailing all the way to the hospital, wearing a tiny oxygen mask; and ended with transporting an extremely overweight Arab women up to her large 3rd story apartment, where she lived with 3 generations of her family (I think about 20 family members!). I was touched by the warmth of that family, who showered us 6 ambulance workers it took to get her up with thank yous and chocolates upon our departure.

I love the hearing stories of my friends volunteering around the country. My friend in Jerusalem was actually there for a birth in the back of an ambulance. Another friend was there to transport a Palestinian man who had jumped from rooftop to rooftop to escape police, with 8 others, as he was an illegal immigrant in Tel Aviv.

All in all, I am enjoying my days here, learning more and more about the complex dynamics of this country and the suprisingly normal everyday lives of Israelis (the media makes it seem that people live in a constant state of fear here - not AT ALL the case). I especially love the bluntness of Israelis, not afraid to "say it as it is", coming from Canada, where everything in PC and you do not want to offend anyone.


SO my future plans are as follows: I'm staying in Haifa until the first week of March, then meeting up with my sister Sarah in Tel Aviv for a few days (yay!), as she's coming here for a conference. Then spending my last few days in Israel before taking off for a visit home on mid-March for my grandma's 90th birthday celebration. Then I depart again for my European adventure in April, meeting up with my sister Freda in May and traveling until my funds run out this summer!!!

Sorry if this travelogue does not get to everyone I would like it to, please forward it on, or send me a line if I am missing someone's email address.

And please continue with updates as to what everyone is doing, I like to be in the loops. I will try my best to reply personally.

All the best!
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