A tale of two photographs

Tuesday was election day here in Israel. That means we got the day off. No school, no work, so once Paul and I had voted, we gathered the kids, hopped on a train and went into Tel Aviv to visit the Eretz Israel Museum.

We wondered around looking at the various exhibits and then we came across the David Rubinger, I Captured the Truth, 1947-1997 exhibit. Being a photography nerd, Paul was fascinated and spent a bit more time in the exhibit than the kids or I. So we headed outside and sat on a bench outside.

Once Paul was done, he headed out of the exhibit and stopped to take a photo of us sitting together.

As he took the photo, the usher for the exhibit came rushing out, ‘No no no, you cannot take a picture there!’ She exclaimed (in Hebrew). Paul started looking for a no picture sign. ‘No’, she said again. ‘You cannot take a picture here, that wall, that wall is old and ugly!’

She then pointed across the courtyard, ‘That is where you must take a picture!’ She was pointing at a shady spot with a colourful flower bed.

‘Here. Here is a pretty wall covered in Jerusalem stone, and look at these beautiful flowers. This is where you must take a photo!’

And then she proceeded to direct us to sit in front of the pretty wall and pretty flowers.

‘No!’ She cried again. ‘Abba (dad), must be in the photo too!’ While taking Paul’s camera out his hands and directing him to sit with us.

She even laid her uniform jacket on the bricks for the children to sit on while shuffling us around to best show off the pretty blooms.

After a few misfires with the camera, and Aaron popping up to show her what to press, she snapped a beautiful family photo of us, and the pretty Jerusalem stone wall and the pretty flowers.

We thanked her and she told us that she had planted those flowers and was very proud of them. We also had a conversation about where we came from, ‘Oh, you are not tourists, why did you make aliyah?’ She told us that she is also an immigrant, from Uzbekistan, and that she came to Israel many years ago. She then took our map and showed us the best exhibits for the children to enjoy and wished us well before going back to the exhibit.

We had a wonderful day, voting, exploring the history of our country and generally relaxing, but the best part of the day for me, was a photo in front of some gorgeous flowers!

I drove a car!

Legally, on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and in the rain.

Its only taken me 4 years and 3 months to convert to an Israeli drivers license but its finally done.

When we first arrived in Israel, the law was that we could drive for 1 year on our SA license and in total we had up to 3 years to convert to an Israeli license. The catch? We needed to do a minimum of 2 driving lessons and a test in order to convert.

Due to pure laziness, lack of spare funds for lessons and a fear of doing the test, I kept putting it off. Then, just before the 3 years were up, I pulled out my SA license only to see it had expired. And in order to actually do the conversion, besides all of the above, your SA license needs to be valid. Oops…

Oh, and did I mention, if you dont convert your license within the required time period, you have to do a theory test, take a minimum of 28 lessons and do the final test.

Yeah, I resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to drive in Israel.

Then, the law changed, now, you have 5 years to convert your license, you dont need to do lessons or a test and the only requirements are a valid SA license and proof that you have been driving for more than 5 years before making aliyah.

And the, in January, I went back to SA to visit my grandfather who had a bad fall. And while I was there, my mommy organised for me to renew my SA drivers license.

She organised for it to be collected and then a friend of my brothers brought it to Israel for me last week and bam! I had a valid license, proof I had been driving for 5 years prior to coming to Israel and I still had 9 months before the 5 year grace period was over.

And as of yesterday I am officially licensed to drive in Israel.

As for driving a car… a colleague insisted that I take her car for a spin around the parking lot this morning. After 4 years of not driving, it was so much fun. Despite the rain and the fact that we drive on the right over here, I think I managed pretty well.

Now to rent a car and start properly exploring this awesome country.

4 years

Another year has flown by. We’ve had our ups and downs. Mostly ups though.

Paul started a new job, we adopted a rescue dog, the kids are thriving.

My Hebrew still sucks and we still don’t have a drivers license between us, but my resolutions for the new year are to sort those two things out.

Every year here seems to be better than the last, so here is to a fantastic upcoming year!

3 Years

We have been living in Israel for just over three years now.

Some days it feels like yesterday and some days it feels like forever.

My Hebrew still sucks but my kids are fluent.

They are both doing well in school (with some serious encouragement) and have so many friends.

Im still at my awesome job and Paul is freelancing and being an amazing house husband (I hardly ever have to do a load of laundry myself).

We have amazing friends, Israelis and Expats.

You cant ask for anything more.

Life is good.

Some (old?) news.

We have been in Israel for just under 3 years now. I know, 3 years!!

And if you recall I was lucky enough to find a job within our 1st month here.

I have been happily employed in that job for just over 2 and a half years. 

מסיבת יום הולדת של אוריה ואיתי

A few weeks ago, the #BestBossEver called me into her office and told me that they were looking to fill a position in another department and between her and that departments head, they had discussed it and wanted to know if I would like to take the position.

I didn’t even hesitate. I said yes.

Since then its been a bit of a whirlwind.

I’ve trained my replacement, trained and done a handover on my new position and started working my new position full time.

This has been a huge learning curve for me. It has been a very long time since I worked directly with clients and its taken some getting used to. But I feel like I’m getting the hang of things.

I’m lucky to work with a fantastic team of people and the fact that I’ve only moved to a new department and have know the team for years already has been a huge help.

I’m still nervous about all the things I don’t know but excited about everything I get to learn too.  Like how to dial into a conference call (I know right? So adult!).

So, that’s where I am. It’s sure to be a wild ride but I’m looking forward to it.

*Photo by Paul

Manifestation

When we were first making aliyah, people were slightly horrified that I didn’t have a job lined up for when we arrived.

They were even more horrified when I told them that I would be happy packing supermarket shelves if that was the only job I could get.

Then I was lucky enough to get a job within a month of arriving in Israel and I’ve just passed my 2 year work anniversary with the company.

I have also only just realise, like sitting at the bus stop this morning realised, that I have actually manifested my words from 2 years ago.

You see, I work for a company that price compares products across a variety of supermarkets. My job, specifically, is to make sure that all the data we receive from the various stores is correct in terms of price, quantity and of course, which shelves the products are on in the website.

It only took me 2 years to twig, but even though I may not be physically packing shelves at the local super, I am digitally packing shelves for a variety of supermarkets.

We eat the food, then we do the things.

One of the things we decided when we made aliyah was that we were going to try live as Israelis as much as possible. In particular food. We decided to buy and eat Israeli products as much as we could. 

One, buying imported things is expensive. 

Two, support the local economy.

Three, the kids are growing up Israeli, they need to be comfortable eating foods we may not have eaten in South Africa.

All of this is not to say we don’t eat the same foods we used to eat in South Africa. I’m yet to see cottage pie on a restaurant menu but we often have it for dinner. 

Israelis also tend to eat larger, heavier meals at lunch and smaller, lighter meals at dinner time. We still eat a proper cooked meal for dinner, mostly, this summer we have tried eating lighter, smaller meals at night.

All this brings me to things that we don’t/cant buy here (there is one big store that imports food stuffs from SA and Australia and the UK, but it is hellishly expensive). Things that I miss. Things that I have asked people to bring me and that I hoard and cherish like a certain gold ring.

  • Anita mentioned on Facebook, samp, which I haven’t had in years and now have a hectic craving for. 
  • Along with samp, is a good stiff pap with tomato gravy. You can buy polenta here but its just not the same.
  • Boerewors. I’ve had locally prepared boeries but its just not the same. The meat here is very different to SA and you can tell.
  • Peppermint Crisp. Anybody who visits has to bring me at least 1 slab. 
  • Five Roses Tea. Israeli black tea is rather weak. At least that’s my opinion. I love a good cup of Five Roses. 
  • Biltong. I actually have a biltong maker, I just need to figure out what’s the best cut of meat to use so I can make some.
  • Mrs Ball’s Chutney. I dont even really like chutney but I use to use it for cooking. Maybe I should try make my own…

All in all I think we manage just fine using local products and ingredients. And I don’t really miss anything to point of agonising over not having it. But I wouldn’t say no, if someone gave me any of the above.

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Photo taken by Paul in 2005 (I cannot for the life of me remember which game reserve it was)

Smile

Many years ago, when I first started working, I was given this little nugget of advice, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Even when you are speaking on the phone, smile. Your smile will be conveyed through the phone and the person speaking to you will hear it and respond in kind.

I’ve noticed, the happier the people around me are, the happier I am.

What really drove (haha) this point home, is my regular morning bus driver.

Every single morning when I get on the bus, he greets each and every passenger with a boker tov (good morning) and nisiyah tov (good travels). On a Sunday morning he adds the greeting sh’vua tov (good week). On a Thursday he wishes everyone a Shabbat shalom before they get off the bus. At the beginning of the month he will add chodesh tov (good month) too. He is always smiling, laughing, having a conversation with the passengers seated near him. He never gets upset at the traffic/other drivers and he plays an awesomely eclectic collection of music.

I tend to start my day with a smile on my face and a spring in my step and it is directly attributed to the awesomeness that is my morning bus ride.

On the odd occasion I take an earlier bus, the driver is usually quiet, mostly polite and will only greet me if I greet him first. My mood for the morning is definitely not as bouncy as usual.

So, when those mornings happen, I try to be the one with the smile, the happy greetings, the effervescent bounce and hopefully my mood will rub off on everyone around me.

'Cause this kid has the best smile ever!
‘Cause this kid has the best smile ever!

I guess what I’m trying to say is, smile dammit!

That time the kids locked themselves out and the bus never came…

Ja, yesterday was fun. Not.

Got a phone call to say that the both the babysitter and Aaron had forgotten their keys so they were locked outside the apartment. I had about half an hour left of work before catching a 30 minute bus home. So I left a bit early hoping to catch the earlier bus. In the meantime it was super hot yesterday so they couldn’t really play in the park until I got home, so they camped out in the hallway/stairwell of our building where at least it was a bit cooler than outside.

Now, I hoofed it to the bus stop with 5 minutes to spare before the bus was due. Except it never came. Turns out the bus before that also never arrived. I know this because at least 3 other people had been waiting for it and now 2 buses never pitched up. So we waited, hoping the next bus would arrived.

Anyone want to guess what happened? 

After 3 buses failing to arrive, we decided to call a taxi. 4 of us, all going to the same place, makes sense, no?

Pomegranates cause my husband takes awesome pictures.
Pomegranates cause my husband takes awesome pictures.

Except the 1st taxi didn’t want to drive all the way to Modiin. And then there were no other taxis.

Eventually a taxi came past and stopped. So 4 strangers took a taxi home together. I got home at 17:55 (instead of the projected 17:30). It worked out well in the end. Driving via taxi is faster than the bus, only took 15 minutes. And because there were 4 of us it wasn’t that expensive, only ₪20 each. Still, it was an extra expense since I have a monthly bus pass and I shouldn’t have had to pay anything to get home.

This seems to happen every time there is a holiday, either school holidays or Pesach/Channukah holidays, my bus in particular decides we don’t need to go home.

I’m really hoping I manage to get home tonight!

Home

Israel is home. It was from the very first time I stepped foot on her soil 20 years ago.

I came with my family to visit my uncle. We spent 2 weeks driving from north to south, east to west, seeing as much as we could in the short amount of time that we had. 2 years later at the age of 19, I came on my own and spent 8 months on a kibbutz as a volunteer. I made friends with some of the local girls on the kibbutz and we went traveling together with some of the other volunteers, spent time in the north and in hostels in Tel Aviv. Another 2 trips and I knew I would one day live here.

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Paul and I discussed moving to Israel for ages but it was never the right time. Also, Paul had never actually been to Israel so I think it was more of an abstract concept to him. Until he came for a visit and that was that.

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We have been here now for just under a year and a half and each day I fall more in love with our home.

This week marks Israels birthday, her independence, Yom Ha’atzmaut. The streets are filled with flags, cars are dressed up with flags, balconies have flags flying. The kids are learning the history of our home and come home every day excited about celebrating. 

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The day before Yom Ha’atzmaut is a day of mourning, Yom Ha’zikaron. A day where we remember all the fallen, the soldiers, the victims of terror, those that have given their lives for the freedom we now enjoy.

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This beautiful country, this proud people go from heartfelt mourning and deep grief to celebration and joy and I can say with absolute certainty that I am proud to be a part of it, proud to be Israeli.

**all photos taken by Paul