March 16, 2013

the killer marathon

This morning I woke up sweating for the first time since, well...October. Here, that's a significant stretch. Tel Aviv experienced a heat wave that happened to fall on the same day as the annual marathon which attracts tens of thousands of runners every year.

In anticipation of the heat, the municipality postponed the full marathon, and scheduled the 10K and 22K routes to begin before dawn. Despite that effort, one person died and over ten were hospitalized with heat related health problems. Oops.

The municipality was reportedly warned about the risks and critics are now saying that appropriate measures were not taken to protect public health.

I live in Yafo, which is South Tel Aviv, and the start/finish lines have been set up for two weeks on the main road that I travel to get from Yafo to downtown TA. This afternoon when I left my apartment it was 92°F so I decided to use public transit. Point being, I snapped the photo below from the air conditioned comfort of the number 18 bus. In case you were thinking I ran.

March 10, 2013

Oh yeah, Israel.

Life in Israel is very hard. I think maybe my recent posts have displayed some of that.
But this weekend Itzik and I drove North with friends for a weekend in the Kineret (or Sea of Galilee),
and I remembered the that life here can also be very special, peaceful, and completely beautiful.

The four of us (Michal, Asaf, Itzik and I) drove about two hours North, 
rode around the Galilee region and the Golan Heights, 
and stopped in a nature reserve to sit and enjoy the scenery.

Have I mentioned Itzik cut his hair?

There were cattle from nearby farmers wandering freely through the parking lot. 

The last time I was in this area was during summer months, when it is hot and dry and brown.
In the spring the wilderness is still intimidatingly beautiful, but in a completely different way.
Each time I come here, I am struck with the knowledge that I am experiencing something rare and special.
This time of year the hills and mountains surrounding the Sea of Galilee are bursting with lush wildlife, the hillsides are jagged rocks coated with soft grass, flowers, cacti, and trees.
The colors are vivid, and the landscape is vast.
It's truly breathtaking.

We stayed on a moshav (similar to a kibbutz- an intentional gated community, but without communal living practices) and walked out of our tsimmer (bungalow? cabin?) to a view from the hills North of the Sea of Galilee. Unfortunately the recent dust storm moved North with us,
so we couldn't see the water very often, but the dust did give the scenery an odd haze that really made you feel like you were walking through a dream.
A dry, hot dream.

What does a sunset look like in a dust storm? Like this:

photo credit to Michal for this incredible shot

These are the clouds of dust on Saturday, moving North and reflecting the setting sun.

We woke up early on Saturday, ate breakfast, and then spent the day driving around the Golan Heights
(only a few miles from Syria, by the way).

This is the border fence and Syria on the other side.

We stopped at a few roadside attractions (like mini waterfalls and artist colonies).

Sandals! In March! Yes please.

After taking in the landscape we went to a place called Nahal El Al, a deep crevasse of a riverbed that in the winter is a legit river, but in the summer a dry canyon. This time of year, its a garden. 

We hiked for about three hours (an hour down, a little more than an hour up, and some time at the bottom for a quick dip and a cup of coffee near the waterfall).

The water was freezing cold. I did not join them. This looks lovely but its actually c-r-a-z-y.

I even had time for some yoga along the way.
I love my life.

Honestly, this weekend I fell in love with Israel all over again.
I remembered what it is like to be in the land of the Bible. 
To hike the hills where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob struggled and met G-d. 
What a gift that I can meet Him here too,
and somehow I think it's easier here than anywhere else I've ever been.  

It was equally amazing to me how all of this is just outside my back door,
and how easy it has become to forget.

March 6, 2013

Sandstorms. Locusts. Shazam!

Photo pulled from The Times of Israel (

Yesterday millions of locusts took to the skies from just south of Israel's border with Egypt, 
and flew north to wreak havoc on the crops of southern Israel's farmlands.
Things just got biblical over here.

The plague of locusts is making headlines due to its size (the largest in decades) but still,
I get the sense that this is old hat for Israelis.
It's funny the things that seem so foreign to me still- plagues of locusts, annual sandstorms...
these are the things that remind me I'm not in my American bubble anymore.
I live in the Middle East.

A view of the sandstorm in Tel Aviv over the weekend.

Oh, and I know I missed Shazam last week. Sorry! I didn't have anything new for you, but here is my favorite song of the moment:

Of Monsters and Men
Little Talks


March 3, 2013

Why is there so much shit?

(I apologize in advance to the more delicate readers out there (Mom) for the crass language and subject matter of the forthcoming post...
but not unlike poop, sometimes you just have to let the words out.)

Sometimes I find horse manure on the sidewalks because this happens in my neighborhood frequently.

There is a lot of shit in my life at the moment. 
I suppose, when I read that back to myself, that I mean it figuratively, but what prompted this post is all of the literal, physical, smelly shit that I find at every turn. 
I guess the breaking point for me was when I found actual human feces on my doorstep this weekend....but we'll get back to that.

I just received my visa to work in Israel, so my job these days when I'm not babysitting is finding a job.  
As I'm sure many of you can relate to, this is not easy. Anywhere. And babysitting is a hard job, it can be exhausting. I love it, and there are new rewards all the time. But there's also a lot of shit. Ellie is the cutest little baby, but she is quickly become a little girl...and let me tell you, her "cacki" (as its referred to here) is smelling more and more adult by the day. I'm no novice. I've changed countless diapers. 
But the god's honest truth of the matter is that cacki smells. 
You don't develop a resistance to it, just coping mechanisms. 

WHAT is she eating? The smell is unreal. But look at that face.

I also get sick a lot because of my job, and my immune system took a beating this winter. Kids = germ city. 
Since September I have contracted countless colds (they just bleed into one another), chest colds, strep throat, and last week...the stomach flu. I'll spare you the details, it will suffice to say I felt pretty shitty.

In any case, after the visa hurdle, and the job hurdle, the next obstacle is my shitty apartment. Literally. I found mouse droppings under the sink the other day. And then people droppings on my way out of the building Friday morning. Oh, and did I mention our place smells like poop sometimes because a pipe outside broke and is leaking raw sewage onto a ledge a few floors below our only windows? Yeah.
When it comes to the mice...whatever. I don't like it. But I've come to accept it as an inevitable reality when you live in a city. And, to be honest, I've killed more cockroaches in the last year than I ever saw in my first 27 years so, I guess at some point you just develop...again, coping mechanisms. 
But even the best coping skills are stretched thin when you find human poop on your doorstep.

I love the kids and families I babysit for, 
but no one has ever been more motivated than yours truly to find a job. 
I just need to clear my life of a little literal shit, so that I can make room for the figurative stuff, cause it's more exciting, and makes for better instagramming...