Saturday, May 06, 2006
Day 2 in Tel Aviv
Last night we had Shabbat dinner with Yaron's parents who live in a special and particularly beautiful neighborhood called Neve Tzedek which means Oasis of Justice. It got that name when Tel Aviv separated from Jaffa, around the turn of the century, when Jaffa was under Arabic control. Dinner was wonderful. I even got to have chicken soup (with a mideastern flavor that I think was cumin, and no matzoh balls).
This morning I walked around the old port of Jaffa, which is now a part of Tel Aviv. It was almost deserted. Most of Israel is closed on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, but it's business as usual on Sundays. The kids get off early on Friday but the school week starts again on Sunday. No wonder they're so sharp! The beautiful old buildings in the towering Jaffa old city compound that lines the ancient tunnels, stairwells and alleyways have been turned into an artists' quarter and as I made my way through them, the emptiness echoed with history. The port itself these days is a funky aged marina with mostly small fishing and transport boats, where bells ring, engines stutter and men play backgammon along the walkway.
Walking out of there, I passed an open seaside restaurant, where people were having breakfast. As customers entered, they were screened for weapons with that metal detection paddle that they use in airports. You get used to seeing that pretty quickly. The consciousness of peril is so pervasive that it is just another component of the cultural landscape, which is to say that attention is autonomic and normal. That's why its so very very safe here.
I've picked up a few salient Israeli facts, namely that Israel's founding father Ben Gurion's name was David Green before he changed it, and and that he eventually became a Buddhist. That the most popular tourist destination for Israelis is Turkey. There are lots of Turkish restaurants here, I'm told, but I haven't tried one yet. On the practical side, ten shekels is about $2.25 US. I love saying shekels, its how money should sound.
When I got back from my wandering, I tagged along while Yaron took Ben and Mai rollerblading, a jaunt which ended abruptly when Ben took a tumble and skinned his knees. They went home to fix it up and I perambulated along the road following the seashore and had some of the delicious mint leomonade popular here before I found my way back home. I think I've made a record recovery from jet lag, I feel fit and awake today.
Sorry, still no pictures. I think the cord for the camera-computer connection is in the box of weighty electronic miscellaney in my computer case that I shipped ahead to get around carrying it inflight. (Thanks, SS!) It should be here soon.
Other than that, I have to say that I am really enjoying Annabel's wonderful cooking. I'm so lucky to land in such a loving and wonderful household in this tree-lined neighborood for my first stop on the road to who knows what. Yesterday I helped Yaron install Skype on his computer and right now Annabel is talking to her sister in Brazil! It's too cool to rule that the wireless internet signal around here is more often than not fast and strong and I can Skype and blog whenever I feel like it (if I'm not playing backgammon with Ben, who beats the bluejeans off me most of the time).
UPDATE: Never say that! Never express confidence about network connections anywhere it can read or hear you. Signal just went south for a few hours; now its back. I promise to approach connection with trepidation from now on, do you hear that lord of the bits?
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.
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