Friday, January 18, 2008

Part 3: Israel, Day 1--A Controversial Place in Any History

Lifted from an e-mail to a friend:

Most amazing of all was a trip to Israel. Phil had meetings in Tel Aviv, so he decided to spring for two more tickets (at great expense) for Hunter and me. Wow. Tel Aviv is a tropical paradise, if you stay on the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean.

Believe it or not, this is from another e-mail, but says it all:

November 28, 2007---
We arrived in Tel Aviv at 12:15 a.m. But we didn't get to the hotel until after 1 a.m. I looked out the window and saw a balcony over what looked like a major street of cars cruising toward and under the hotel. "Blah," I thought. It's just another big city.

Believe it or not, Israel is only 1 hour later (Eastern European time) than Sweden (Central European time), so we didn't have as much of an adjustment to make as if we'd come here from Idaho (a ten hour difference). I was glad, because going to bed after 1 a.m. is already harder on me than ever.

At 4:30 a.m. Hunter began vomiting in his sleep from an on his back position. I couldn't believe it. Hadn't we just gone through this a few days after arriving in Sweden? In all the time he vomited and I cleaned up around him, he never woke up. Neither did Phil. I had to completely change the sheets, make up something else for him to sleep on and on, etc. When I got back to bed, I was terribly disappointed that Hunter was sick again (my children have such sensitive stomaches!).

Phil was up before 8:30 a.m. to shower, get some New Israeli Shekels, and eat breakfast before he caught his ride to the first meetings of the week. While he was in the shower, I thought about sleeping longer, but couldn't. Cars had started honking outside. I was hungry. The room smelled like vomit. You know, stuff. But I waited until Phil was getting cash to get up and look, again, out the balcony window.

Who could have guessed that Israel, the land where Jesus walked, could be a desirable tropical getaway? I sure hadn't known about it, and I'm trying to read more travel articles! There, within a few steps of the hotel door was the sun rising above the Mediterranean Sea. Umbrellas and lounges had already been set up for the day by hotel staff (this is hotel row, so I mean a lot of umbrellas and lounges). People were stretching, running, walking, walking their dogs, cycling, doing yoga and chatting with friends in two's and three's or just chatting on cell phones. Later in the day, I even saw a man walk his horse along the water's edge. Yes, between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. it was already shirt-sleeve warm. I saw a few heads bobbing above the water—a morning swim, even!

My next thought: Great. One of the most amazing beaches I've ever seen and I may have a sick child for another day. Well, at least I have a good view.

Sure enough, Hunter was sick. He reluctantly looked out the window when he woke up, but immediately laid back down (his bed was near the window) saying, "I don't think I should get up today," and soon after, proving why.

Phil was gone for who-knew-how-long (his day of meetings ended up being 13 hours long), I needed to get to the provided breakfast before it closed and I had a sick child. Life is never easy, is it? (Some of you may be rolling your eyes because I'm on a tropical beach talking about life not being easy). I plopped Hunter in front of a cartoon that made Hunter laugh his head off and hurried downstairs to grab a quick breakfast.

But, no! Quick is not how one does things in Israel, apparently, especially not at a five star hotel. I had to wait to be seated, wait to have permission to go to through the brunch lines, etc. When I asked if I could take my breakfast to the room because I had a sick child up there, the hostess and I had a communication breakdown that involved her restating her question/statement rather forcefully as if to secure her position as a kindly hostess, but making me feel like it just might not be worth it to do breakfast. As I watched this beautiful young woman talk to me as a school marm to an errant student, I thought, these Israeli’s are not easily dealt with! Peace talks, HA! I swallowed my sensitivity, went through the hoops, got breakfast and left.

Only, I was stopped by little miss beautiful hostess as I left. I couldn't possibly carry a tray of breakfast to my own room. No, the waiter had to carry it. Never mind that he was already on the elevator, with a clipboard in his hand, headed toward his next assignment. Then HE was miffed at me for the inconvenience, which I apologized for. Elevators are uncomforable arrangements, anyway. Add being in a multi-cultural situation with miffedness! The waiter reluctantly accepted my apology at the room door (because he was supposed to be glad to do his job for the spoiled customers). Was I supposed to tip him now?

Hunter refused everything I offered him. This was a good thing. He has learned that eating when sick is not the best idea. "Maybe," I thought, "he'll be over this quickly and we can go play on the beach." No quickly's in Israel, remember?

But, he did want to play on the beach and he would have nothing to eat or drink. He had a BLAST.
And I did, too. ("Mom, why does the sea go so far? Help me build a sandcastle!" That sand was the best castle sand I'd ever tried)
It seemed a wonderful providence to be stuck HERE in this beauty, so close to the hotel and in enough space that I could feel like Hunter wasn't contaminating the community.

Military helicopters and fighter planes (along with domestic air travel) flew over fairly often while we played. But when I looked around, no one appeared alarmed.

We had lunch at 3 pm, when Hunter felt finally able to eat (after I sprayed him down from the sand). From our lunch table, we watched about 10 people try their hands and feet at windsurfing.

I asked Hunter if he would take me to lunch when he was a man. He said, "Of course. But we'll live in our house in Idaho."

I asked, "Won't you want a house of your own when you are grown?"

"Yes, maybe," he said. "But it won't have an upstairs." End of discussion.

He napped the rest of the afternoon away so that I could watch the beach, the sailboats, and the sun going down on it all. It felt a bit like heaven. I didn't even write like I should have during such a perfect situation.

Phil finally called to let me know he wouldn't be home until nine o'clock, or so. He said Hunter and I were invited to attend the meeting dinner with the group, but I didn't feel like I could take Hunter with a fever.

Hunter's fever was rising so I woke him up to get him out from under the covers. Not his favorite idea. We watched Fox News (That is an experience I've not had before.) until we decided we were sick of the room and Hunter was feeling up to his annoying self. We went to dinner and he ate like his usual hungry self.

After dinner, we grabbed our coats and went for a long night walk along the sea and behind many dark hotels and parking garages. Everyone I asked assured me it would be safe to do this with my son, even though it was dark. What an amazing thing.

Phil tells me the President of Crow Electronics spent an hour of his own time working out getting a tour to the Sea of Galilee for Hunter and me. He said we would be picked up at 9:30 a.m. It's such a bummer having to wait around for Phil each day : )