A belly full of Israel

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Beach near Nahariya on the north coast.

Israel is a complicated country. And full of contradictions and conflict. And Israelis, generally, as far I can tell, can be intolerant (each to a degree). They are also unapologetic about their intolerance. Trying to make sense of the crazy way this country works and the way the people live together (or not) is a mammoth task so for now I’m just watching and asking questions. I’ll let you know what I learn along the way. But while I watch a little I’ve been a-visiting. Here are some stories…

Just south of Nahariya, where I spent Yom Kippur, is Acre (pronounced Akko), an ancient walled city with history dating back to the 1200s and the Crusades.

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Ancient Acre and its protective walls.

We went for a wander through the market and to eat “the best hummus in Israel”, according to Pele. In the last week I’ve heard that phrase more than once, and don’t doubt that I will hear it many more times. When you order hummus (which you can have with different topping) you get a not-at-all small bowl of hummus, a stack of pita and a plate of extras (gerkin, tomato, olives, onion). A big glass of water is useful to wash it all down. While the hummus was pretty yummy I failed to make even a dent in my serving and still left with a sticking out belly (this is becoming another everyday occurrence).

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The market was full of colour and fishy smells and reminded me that I am somewhere different.

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Acre market.

Israel is somewhere different, but I had a taste of home when I spent the weekend with an old friend from South Africa who is now living in Caesarea, an hour or so train ride south of Nahariya (which is my base and current home to my hula hoop). It’s a funny story so let me tell you how I know Stace (yes, her name is Stacey too). Stace and I were both Girl Guides and went on a national scouting camp at the end of 2002. We were in the same campsite and being the cool 16-year-old I was then Stace, then 14, decided I was worth knowing. So we became friends, and it just stuck. It has been a very long time since we’ve seen each other though. We both studied in different cities and Stace has spent the last three-odd years seeing the world from various cruise ships (as an employee not as a super rich holiday maker). It was on one of these ships that she met her sexy Israeli man, most of the reason why she is now living in Israel.

Seeing her was wonderfully comfortable. But hearing her accent, which sounds just like mine, was so strange after months of not hearing any South African. We had a great weekend together, reminiscing about old times, missing South Africa and our respective homes, drinking Rooibos tea and eating Cadbury chocolate, bitching about the atrocious driving and strange Israeli ways and going on small missions around her area.

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The all-important first glass of wine with my old friend Stacey. It was followed by a long night of catching up and girly nattering. I’m not sure why we look so scared.

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Ancient ruins and aqueducts around Caesarea.

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Loving home. Two South African Staceys reading Go! mags in Israel. Rooibos tea and Cadbury chocolate, the only chocolate that satisfies our sweet craving.

On Saturday morning Ohad, Stace’s man, kicked us out of bed early so we could get to “the best hummus place in the area”. I fared much better this time and finished the bowl, mostly because Stace and I shared a serving and I did better job of scooping.

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Hummus full (beans). Stace got her scooping right because we cleaned that bowl!

September is holiday season in Judaism. Yom Kippur is followed by Sukkot during which families eat their meals under a tent called a Sukkah. It’s probably best to ask Uncle Google for information on the holiday; Pele keeps explaining and I keep forgetting but I know that the tent must be built outside and have a roof which provides shade but through which you can see the sky, and you should be happy during this week. What I do know for sure is that there is a lot of food. Although that could be normal practice too…

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Another huge family meal in the Sukkah. It all looks delicious because it is – these Cohen women sure can cook!

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One response to “A belly full of Israel

  1. Hello my Slinky Wander-Woman!

    I’m really glad that you are getting fed properly. Now that I think of it – if you loose any weight while you are away there simply won’t be enough of you to go around when you get back.

    That would be tragic. Pandemonium. Chaos. Almost as tragic as you not coming home at all!

    Which begs the question whether the wanderlust will willfully wander you a cross the Karoo in time for Tankwa? And whether the next lot that you are going to do some really hard chilling with are going to feed you proper…

    Bon appetit. And some love of (main) course.

    T

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