I guess since we've been here almost two and a half weeks its time to confirm that Tafat and I are here in Israel. I'll try and run through the last two and a half weeks as best I can to let everyone know what the experience has been like.
After a long flight to London, and a very pleasant extended lay over spent walking around in the city, and then another shorter flight to Tel Aviv, we finally landed at the new terminal in Ben-Gurion Airport. The name of the project to build the new terminal was "Ben-Gurion 2000" which is unfortunate since it didn't open until the end of 2004. At any rate it's really impressive, it's beautiful, clean and very modern looking. It's certainly far more impressive than the terminal was the last time I came here. It's also fairly big. Tafat and I walked for quite a while before we got from our gate to passport control. It's not Minneapolis or Detroit big, but for such a small country to have such a big airport strikes me as some form of compensation.
We were met warmly at the airport by our surrogate Israeli mother Miri. She has been taking extremely good care of us and has kept us well fed. In the states the stereotype of the Jewish mother is someone who is constantly feeding you and taking care of you. In Israel, a country full of Jewish mothers, that stereotype is reserved for Polish mothers. Miri is the quintessential Polish mother. When we got to Haifa Tafat met Miri's husband Shlomo who has been extremely busy with his business the whole time we've been here. Shlomo is also in many ways a good example of the eccentric Israeli some people have pictured in their minds. His favorite pastime is to lament all the foods he can't eat because of the special diet he's on to lower his blood-pressure.
Tafat and I spent our first week in the country slowly recuperating from lingering jet-lag, running a few errands here and there with Miri and getting a feel for Haifa where we've been staying. We also took a very short trip to Tel Aviv to get a feel for the city in which we'll be living. Tel Aviv is everything I thought it would be. That is to say, its a very eclectic, very urban, somewhat run-down and dirty, yet completely appealing city. Being in Tel Aviv is frustrating because it's really not a pretty city yet it has the potential to be a beautiful city. Its a city badly in need of some paint and plaster, but where the architecture is at times stunning and also stunningly bad. Tafat and I are excited to be living there because in many ways it is the antithesis of LA - you can walk almost everywhere and many people don't even own a car.
Our first weekend here was wonderful since it featured a guest appearance by Miri's grandson. Her son and daughter-in-law were also here but the rule, as it is at my parents house as well, is that the grandchild is the star.
With our second week here we began our apartment search, and its been keeping us busy since then. Finding an apartment in Tel Aviv is tricky because you have to keep track of several factors including price, the apartment itself, the location, the noise ... Ok, maybe it's just as tricky here as everywhere else but where you're right in the thick of it it seems really hard. Maybe it's so difficult because really nice apartment seem so few and far between.
We took a break from apartment hunting last week to go to Jerusalem to visit Tafat's aunt Nadine. She is a fascinating woman and her mannerisms really reminded me of Tafat's mother. She also showed me how to make real Turkish coffee and I can see this quickly becoming a new hobby for me. Nadine took Tafat and I (well it was really for me) on a tour of the city. She took us to Tafat's old neighborhood and Tafat gave me a tour of where she grew up. It was really nice to see where she spent her childhood because it can really tell you a lot about a person.
Since then it's been a lot if trips to Tel Aviv on the train, mixed in with a little bit of shopping here and there. We also both got a kick out of going to a kosher hamburger joint in the mall in Tel Aviv. This should seem perfectly obvious that in a Jewish country it will be a lot easier to find kosher food, but all the same it made us both smile.
I would love to show you pictures of where we've been. Unfortunately my digital camera had a bit of an accident and it is no longer working. I'm not going to describe exactly how it happened but suffice it to say that is was a very "Jonah" moment, or in other words - stupid. But fortunately a replacement should be here in about a month, hopefully.
And ... well ... that's about it.