Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Easy trip but unexpected bird watching

Last year when Howard and I flew to Israel in June, we had a terrible shock at the airport: I was not allowed to get on the plane because my US passport was not good for 6 months after our departure. So, somehow our travel agent rescheduled our flight from Friday to Tuesday without our having to pay any penalty, I got a new passport in a day at double the price, and we got to Israel 3 days late and a bit chagrinned.

So this year, we didn’t want to have any “punctures”—unexpected unpleasant shocks. Luckily I avoided one. When I went to print out our car rental arrangement the day of our travel, I could not find it. It turned out that I had not actually finalized the plans, but Mickey, the wonderful travel agent for Avis Israel, managed to get us the reservation.

Howard’s last day of teaching was the morning of our flight. He left the house at 5:30 as usual, finished teaching at 11:30, and got home in time to finish packing and head to the airport. We got to the airport at 1:30 for our 5 pm flight, non-stop from Seattle to Paris.

Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport is huge and complicated. It took us 90 minutes to get from our arrival gate, travel by bus to a different terminal, get through security, and finally get to our departure gate for our flight at 6 to Israel. We noticed that many people missed their connecting flights.

We had 5 hours to wait. Others joined us, and it was fun to talk. I had a nice time talking to a woman and her 82 year old husband who were traveling from Argentina to visit their daughter and 2 grandchildren. They had made aliya overnight in the 1970s from Argentina when 2 of their 3 sons were almost picked up by the police. A year later, the husband and wife and very young daughter returned to Argentina because of lack of work in Israel, but the 3 sons stayed in Israel, served in the army, studied at University, married, etc. After the Gulf War, the wives of the 3 sons wanted to leave the country, so now one is in Tulsa, Oklahoma, another in Denmark, and a third in Brazil…. Only the daughter came back to Israel. After the visit to Israel, all the family will go to Denmark for the Bat Mitzvah of a granddaughter. . Such a conversation is very common when when runs into Israelis. They are quite open and always have unusual stories to tell. We talked in a combination of Spanish and HebrewIt definitely is harder for me to go between Spanish and Hebrew than between English and either of the other 2 languages I know.

Our flight to Tel Aviv was without incident. Except for eating dinner, Howard slept most of the way. We arrived in Israel at 12:30, waited for our luggage, got through customs, and then stopped for coffee and a snack so that Howard would have the energy to drive to our destination. The airport was so airconditioned that I was cold, but I am sure it was the last time I will be cold in the next 4 weeks!

We got our rental car (Hyundai Getz--$600 for the month from Avis), got more minutes for our cell phone, and Howard got cash from the ATM (caspomat), and headed north. It was Thursday night, the beginning of the weekend for many Israelis, so we avoided the coast road and one on Israel’s one toll (and private) road, Highway 6. There are no toll booths. Rather, computerized cameras on the highway take pictures of the license plates, and in several months we will be charged on our credit card. The road was empty and even with Howard not going very fast, we got to Menahemia (just about 4 miles south of the Kinneret—Sea of Galilee) in an hour and 40 minutes.

We took our luggage out of the car, brought it to the entry of the house, and tried to open the door. It was locked, so I timidly rang the bell. No one answered. I walked around to the patio (there were no lights on around the house) and tried that door, but with no luck. Our friends’ car was there so we knew they were home. I next banged on the door, without luck, so I rang the doorbell again, this time longer. No response. I then rang it with 4 loud blasts. No response. I tried calling on the phone, but again no luck. So I walked around the house and saw that our friends’ bedroom air conditioner was on, making it almost impossible to hear the door bell. I banged on the blinds outside their bedroom, but I was not successful. Howard could not find any hidden key on a ledge either. I’m sure that they needed their sleep. So-o- we decided to sit on the back porch and rest.

Sunrise at 5:30 was lovely. We heard lots of doves, “bulbulim,” woodpeckers, parrot-like birds and several others. Howard was able to see most of them too.

Bulbul Syrian Woodpecker

Some stunning cactus flowers in Dalia’s garden had just opened. At 7 am when I followed Howard to the front of the house to see the woodpeckers that he had just observed, I heard some sounds. I walked back to the patio, and saw Dalia. She got quite a shock to hear me say “boker tov!” luggage on stoop

Cactus Flower up close
Another gorgeous flower that is only open for 24 hours or less

succulent flower

We had a good laugh at all that had happened. Pinchas, her husband, had actually stayed in the living room until 3 to await us but then assumed our flight must have been delayed.

Howard went straight to bed….I stayed up several hours, lay down, and the next thing I knew Dalia and her daughter Ella were back from work and were calling us to lunch. I joined them and Howard continued to sleep. After visiting, I went back to sleep and slept another 3 hours. Howard finally got up at 7 for dinner, and headed to bed again at 10. He definitely is catching up on a ton of sleep. (He ended up sleeping 21 of 24 hours....must have needed it!!!)

We may not have slept in a bed during night time hours, but we heard dozens of birds and saw many we had not seen in this neighborhood before, a fitting start for our visit.

1 comment:

Mycol said...

I love hearing about your adventures. Keep them simple. Say hello to Howard.