This morning I woke up at 4 am. You may be asking yourself, “why Aaron????”
It was my last day and I had the option of either:
A) Leaving quietly at 8:45 am while Guy and the two Brits were out working
B) Get my tush up early and work hard through the morning
I chose B. We woke up this morning to “Every Morning” by Keb Mo. I’ve had a different song wake us up every day. Funny enough they weren’t happy to be woken up a few days ago by “God Bless the Queen” (the national anthem not the infamous Sex Pistols anarchist anthem) because they actually don’t like the queen. Hahahaaa.
Drank our instant coffee, grabbed a few frozen bottles of water and hopped in Guy’s truck (with the trailer attached). Listened to my music for the hour long bumpy ride. Almost had a heart attack when Guy barely missed hitting a cow walking across the street. Nice reflexes for 4:30 am. We arrived at this forest near the Kinneret and Guy told us to find long, thick branches. He said to break off the sides of the branches so that they could be stacked. An hour later we filled up the trailer. He drove off and gave it to his friend. Came back and told us that we needed to fill it again, but now for the lodge. In my head I’m screaming, “we just filled it up! UGHHH!!” Finally we filled it up again. By now my arms were cut up with scratches from the branches. My ear is bleeding because I slipped and cut myself on a branch. I feel sweaty and smelly. Yuck. It was still tons of fun though. Talking and listening to what the British guys called “chart” music (newest hits) as we worked.
We got back in the car and he drove us to a pool/spring of the Kinneret. I wish I had taken a photo but I left my phone in the car so it wouldn’t get wet. There were only four other people there so we stripped down to our boxers and jumped in. OMG was it cold!! But perfect after all of our hard work. We all talked and laughed. Nathan and Guy raced in the pool. The pool was manmade but retained a natural aesthetic by having fish and crab in the pool (which nibbled at my feet lol) and being made out of rock covered in moss.
We jumped back in the car and headed to a farm where we spent another hour minutes taking 30 feet long trees (no branches sticking out, just the trunk) from the site to the top of Guy’s car where they were strapped down. The place smelled sooo awful. Guy hates the smell and said next time he is gonna bring a gas mask. Hahaahaa.
So now I’ve missed my bus, I’m bleeding and smell pretty funky. We get back and I quickly take a shower and look at new bus times. No worries, there’s another bus in 30 minutes to Haifa.
Guy tells us that he’s making us lunch. We come down and I run into the couple who Guy had at the BBQ two nights ago. I say hi and start talking to them. They’re really awesome people. When they hear I’m taking a bus they ask me to where (thinking Jerusalem), I tell them Haifa. Guy orders them in Hebrew (thinking that I can’t understand him), “Take him to where he needs to go.” I tell them that I’d like to go to Haifa. Guy says, “No Aaron, your final destination, Alonei Abba.” They say it’s no problem and agree to drive me the two and a half hour journey to Alonei Abba. Oh my god. Israelis. I hug both of them and thank them profusely. We go inside and start to eat. Leelach tells me that she wants me to come back and see them. She says, “we don’t want to replace your family, but…we DO!!” and we both laugh. Guy tells me that he expects me to stay in touch, which is hard because they don’t have a Facebook, address or an email (i don’t think). But I did promise that I’d see them again before the end of the year, so I will have to follow through on that.
We take a photo as a final goodbye.
On the drive I ask (I’ll call him Uri) what kind of music he likes. It’s my favorite question to ask. We talk about our shared love for Israeli artist Asaf Avidan. Then I ask if he’s a fan of batman since he’s wearing a batman shirt. He says that the shirt was cheap, but I soon found out that we also have a shared love of the Christopher Nolan batman movies. His wife calls them kid movies and we spend quite a bit of time trying to convince her of their sophistication. To no success. They even bought me iced coffee, but wouldn’t let me pay for it. They even drove me up to my aunt’s house! I offered them a 100 shekel bill but he told me to put it away. I don’t care if he was offended. I can at least be okay with the fact that I offered it.
It was nice to be home. I walk in to the house smelling schnitzel being made on the stove and seeing their their very old, sweet dog walking around slowly. I updated them on my adventures and a little later some family came over. Had fun watching my adorable two year old “niece”.
First, her with Peerli (my “aunt”)
Then with her father Avishay
We had a huge breakfast at a bakery/restaurant called Giga. They told me it was a very typical Israeli breakfast. I loved it. It was very a very cozy place, loud and had AMAZING bread. After that we headed to a place to take a beautiful hike. My cousin (my age) and I walked faster then her parents and chatted as we hiked. It was gorgeous outside and it felt good to move in nature. When we were walking we heard a siren. Both of us freaked out and started running back towards her parents. I realized how little cover we had around us and it scared the heck out of me. We finally reached her parents and they calmed us both down and told us that it was just an air traffic controller siren. Geez. Whew. My cousin told me about her experience during the second Lebanon War and how she had to stay in her house for a month and how frightening it had been for her. It makes me realize how much Americans (myself included) take our safety for granted.
After the hike we drove down to this place near Tzfat called Adir Dairy that served goat ice cream. Awesome right! Well they only served a flavor called “natural.” I’m not gonna lie…it wasn’t my thing, but I still ate it all. I expected it to look different than normal ice cream, but it didn’t lol. They actually had chocolate and vanilla ice cream in containers which I may get next time I go and just share it with someone…(:
This is where we ate it. Absolutely stunning place. I would definitely go back to eat at the restaurant there (right Mom and Dad?)
After that we headed to Rimon Wineries. We had a lovely wine tasting and I got a little tour of the place. They told me that it’s the only Pomegranate Winery in the world because their genetically modified pomegranates are about the size of a small soccer ball. Woah. Awesome! The semi-sweet was my favorite. Sadly we didn’t get to try any of the pomegranate wine chocolate 🙂
I went to the mall with my cousin Noga.
Had a very successful shopping trip.
After going into a a bunch of different stores I found two tight fitting t-shirts that I liked. This is very difficult for me to find in the states because most brands have words all over the shirts and most shirts are way too big. Didn’t have that problem in Israel. How expensive were the shirts? $10. Sweet!
Then I found running shoes. I was worried we wouldn’t find an Asics store in the mall but we did! Awesome. The guy who was helping us asked me where I was from, and I told him Minnesota. He said, “Minnesota? I lived in Minnesota for years. I worked at the Mall of America!” Made my day. Finally, someone who knew Minnesota. We chatted about Minneapolis and he gave me a 80 shekel discount because I shmoozed him so well.
Got some sunglasses because I desperately needed new ones. Had fun trying on goofy pairs. This was not an easy purchase for me in the past because I had been so indecisive but I finally found a pair that I really liked. I’m super happy.
Bought cool glasses (below)
Tried on goofy glasses (below)
Saw more family and Shira’s new baby who was absolutely adorable. She kept on crossing her eyes and making hilarious faces.
Omer came over. He’s Shira’s 5 year old son. We played together last time and now everybody says that he loves me. Hahahaa. He’s awesome. He walked in hiding behind Shira. I scooped him up with a hug and threw him around :). Even though he knows I speak Hebrew he asked if I could speak English, aka the language he thinks is gibberish lol. He was a little tired so we let him watch Shalom Sesame…I told them that when my sisters and I were kids, we watched Shalom Sesame and that Maya (my niece) LOVES Shalom Sesame.
Later that night I went out to a pub with Noga and her friend, but we couldn’t get in anywhere because I’m 18. Totally sucks. Totally embarrassing. We still had a great time just talking in a coffee shop though. They spoke English around me, which wasn’t easy for them and it was really sweet. Sorta felt guilty about it all though.
Random final thought:
I’ve been reading a lot of Philip K Dick short stories lately. I LOVE them. They’re all brilliant, thought-provoking and end like a twilight zone episode (with a twist).
One of the stories that I read was called, “Piper in the Woods.”
It was set in a future where we have a base with 300 people on an Asteroid labeled Y-3. The asteroids have become a check-point to half and examine ships and check for dangerous bacteria, fungus etc that may infect the system. A nice Asteroid is warm, well-watered, with trees and lakes and sunshine. The issue that the main character, Doctor Harris, is dealing with is that more than 30 of the men from the asteroid have had to return to a hospital on Terra (Earth) because they believe they are plants. Yes, plants. They say that they’ve retained the physiology of a human being while adopting the psychology of a plant. They spend most of their time during the day just sitting outside and enjoying the sun. Lying down on warm dirt and doing nothing. They don’t want to work. Harris goes to find out what is causing this by going to the asteroid, he meets the natives in an untouched magnificent forrest and learns who the truth about the Pipers. The Pipers exist in the minds of the crew. These highly skilled and trained men spent all their lives schooled by complex modern society with constant pressure toward some goal. Suddenly, they were put down on an asteroid where the natives are living a primitive existence with no concept of goals or planning. They remembered how they lived the same way when they were children, without any worries or responsibilities, and so created the Pipers in order to allow themselves to live this way. Doctor Harris comes to this conclusion and realizes that he must start on psychotherapy for the men immediately and he begins to think of everything he has to do in such a short time. He goes to his quarters, pours out a bag of soil (brought back from the asteroid) and closes his eyes as he lies down in the center of it…pushing his worries of work out of his mind and suddenly realizing how warm the soil feels against his skin…..
There are times when we need to be responsible, highly skilled, hard working etc. However, too many of us believe that we have to be like that all of the time. That’s not so! Sometimes, you need to be like a plant. When you’re studying for school, of course you need to study your tush off, but sometimes you need to breathe and enjoy where you are. You may have to work very hard and diligently when you receive a new project from your boss…but you need to find a time when you return home to be a plant. We have to remember that we are still just animals and beyond our sophistication we still require some peace in our existence. I’ve been in Israel for almost 2 months. WOW! I still can’t believe it’s been that long. My past two months have sped by in a millisecond and yet I feel as if I’m millennia away from the person that I was two months ago. However, everyday I’ve been here I’ve had a chance to be a plant. I don’t mean be lazy. I mean simply enjoying where I am at that moment. Not being upset because the cabin I’m living in has a broken toilet seat, no hot water, an ant infestation and power that goes out every once in a while (later found out both of our hotplates had short circuited). Loving every second anyway and if possible even loving the small adventures (previously perceived as problems). Responsibilities don’t have to be a pain. I learned to love going down to the campsite. It was a chance for me to clean (something I’m good at), listen to my music (a passion of mine), see the beautiful view of the mountains and help answer the questions of the parents at the campsite. Sometimes I hated having to clean up after other people (e.g.: finding a cockroach in the fridge), but I found moments of joy and tranquility within the work. I made sure that anytime I had a disgusting cleaning job, I went down past the showers and picked a few apples. Inserted a little sweet into my work. That’s one piece about the story that I disagree with. Sometimes your work doesn’t suck. You kicked ass on that presentation/meeting/interview or you aced that test. Cherish that moment. Live in that moment. Lie down on your metaphysical pile of dirt and breathe in that moment.