Sunday, January 8, 2012

Settling In

Shalom ve shavua tov, chaverim!

All's well here at 20 Aliyah Street, in sunny-with-a-chance-of-showers Nahariya. It's hard to believe Elul and I have been here for almost two weeks, since we seem to have lived through a year's worth of tedious home repair chores already. I never knew that one of the first bits of Hebrew vocabulary we'd need would be "the threads on the washing machine's water line connection are stripped," "the DSL signal is so weak that the television images are pixillating and our internet connection is intermittent," and "the toilet is not securely bolted to the floor, so going to the bathroom is like taking a ride on the Wild Mouse."

Moving anywhere is always a pain, and this move has been no exception. "Moving pain" has manifested itself primarily in the form of not having what we needed RIGHT away to simply function in daily life. I spent my precious luggage allowance in hauling boring things like diplomas and legal papers. Next were precious family photographs and other irreplaceable objects of sentimental value. Finally, I stuffed in some clothes which turned out to be comically insufficient for the weather conditions here. I have five pairs of running shorts that I can't use, but NO long underwear or winter coat, which I really need!

But you can't wash dishes with a photo album. Or use a selection of sports bras as a tablecloth. Maybe you can in Tel Aviv, of course, but this is Nahariya,"the City of Subdued Excitement."* So every day, we've been wandering around town to forage for what we need, even so far as taking the "3 Alef" bus out to a shopping mall. We've visited numerous plumbing supply shops, home goods shops, spice markets, grocery stores, pharmacies, department stores, and just about every other store you can think of. We've discovered the downside of not having a car, which was getting completely drenched in a downpour on the way back from the grocery store. I'm so grateful my backpack, "Big Student," was designed by people from Seattle! And even though Elul chided me for getting "Big Student" initially, he has grudgingly admitted that it has already come in very handy.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I have already started thinking about how to organize a kind of group buying club, for certain U.S. items that are anywhere from twice to four times the price here. Vitamins are not cheap, for example, nor is hair color. Today, Elul bought an electric toothbrush in town because the new one he bought for the trip suddenly malfunctioned and died. (So much for the stocking-up strategy!) When he explained to the cashier that "in America, these toothbrushes are half the price," she smartly responded "yes, that's because we have to pay to ship these toothbrushes from America to Israel!" Fair point!

So we stumble along, gamely taunting Murphy's Law to bring us to our knees. This experience is a good test of my meditation training in the art of detachment and equanimity. I have so much more to tell you, but I will have to leave it for later, as I am happily engrossed in doing laundry--the first time in nearly two weeks! I did one load when we first got here, but we didn't yet have a dryer. The washing line only held the equivalent of one load, and that load took three days to dry because of the rainy weather. By the time I tried to do the second load, we discovered a problem with the water line connection to the machine. Trying to fix it ourselves, we were unsuccessful as we didn't have the right tools. And then it was Shabbat, so of course everything was closed for another few days. But Yoram Shurany, our real estate agent, came to the rescue by sending us Benny, our handyman-cum-guardian angel. So this evening we will be able to retire in style, with fresh sheets and clean p.j.'s!

A blustery day in Nahariya, best viewed from our living room!

* Copyright of the phrase "The City of Subdued Excitement" actually belongs to Bellingham, Washington, where my parents live!

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