Welcome to Jerusalem, Part 2
We climbed higher and higher in a car with an overheating light flashing. I nervously looked at the light, the street, the light, the street - hoping we would reach our destination before smoke billowed out of the car. By the time we finally arrived I was ready to fly out of the car and kiss the ground. I decided to forgo a spectacle and jumped out, ran into the courtyard and started calling out to David, the property manager. I heard a "hello" two flights down and flew downstairs with Aaron in my arms.
I was craving a hot shower. I wanted a hot shower more than I wanted anything else; unfortunately we still had the property manager standing in the way.
Finally, we wrapped up details with David. I eagerly turned on the shower waiting for glorious hot steam to fill the tiny bathroom.
Only cold water greeted my fingers. I stared at the water willing it to turn hot. I turned the nozzle left and right and left and right and left and right - the water remained cold. It veered from cold to freezing. I fought back tears. I was tired; exhausted, mentally and emotionally worn down and all I wanted was a hot shower to cleanse me physically and energetically.
Finally after 30 minutes I gave up and turned off the water.
I accepted defeat urging Logan and the kids to leave the house in search of dinner. We piled the kids in the stroller and began our quest for food. We had no idea which direction to take. We picked one route and off we went. We walked and walked as it got colder and colder outside. We reached a point where our jackets were not enough insulation from the cold winds of Jerusalem. We were freezing, hungry and exhausted. Finally we found a sign for Mcdonalds. We gave up the search for schwarma and walked towards the Mcdonalds sign. As luck would have it we found a modern schwarma restaurant and went inside. The bitter winds of ice chased us inside.
We ordered food, sat down and tried to eat. Sadie fell asleep in the stroller hunched and cold. Aaron was manic, erratically running around and jumping on our laps. I had no patience for the meal.
I requested three to go boxes, was handed one, given a dirty look when I asked for two more and then handed one more. Fine. I stuffed the food in two boxes and off we went in search of our apartment. Did I mention it was cold? My jacket felt flimsy, completely unable to prevent the cold from seeping into my bones. We made it back before nightfall.
On our way down two flights of stairs to our "garden view" apartment a neighbor stopped us. She is an older lady, religious, with a warm smile. It seems Logan's cousins had stopped by with a bag of treats for us to enjoy on our first day here. Logan has two sets of cousins here in Israel. One set is Haredi, they are an extremely strict sect of Judaism. Another set of cousins are also religious Jews but they are not Haredi. The Haredi set brought us delicious snacks which we were thankful for in the middle of the night when jetlagged attacked.
The night was a miserable experience with Aaron and Sadie waking up around two in the morning demanding food and water. We ate dinner's leftovers, I mechanically stuffed myself with food to comfort my tired brain. About four hours later we went back to sleep.
Sadie woke up a few hours later ready to play. My eyes could not open. I stayed in bed cuddling Aaron while Logan entertained Sadie until we woke up. Aaron stayed in bed for hours, finally catching up on sleep.
While I was sleeping Logan spent the morning trying to get our luggage. He managed to get an Israeli number and have a time setup for the luggage drop off. Logan went off to find a shop with water because we were all feeling like camels in search of an oasis and the phone rang. Logan's phone rang. I nervously looked around unsure of my next move.
I picked up the phone, "hello?"
A man with a deep voice replied, "shalom."
I say, "shalom."
He responded, "shalom."
I, not feeling cheeky in the least, replied again, "shalom."
Exasperatedly he mumbled, "shalom, shalom, shalom, shalom."
Each shalom is a solemn bell tolling deeper finalizing our shaloms and forcing us on to the next topic of conversation.
"Hello," I replied.
"Yes, yes, okay, your luggage, I drop off between one and three."
My mother's strong Russian accent laced my words, "okay, but it would be very nice if you come at one and not three. We are stuck here. Hungry. Very nice. Okay?"
"Okay. I see vat I can do." I can hear him nodding in his truck.
Then he hung up.
Logan returned and by some miracle we only have to wait a few hours, luggage was dropped off by one. The driver literally stopped the truck, grabbed the suitcase, thumped it on to the sidewalk and left.
Fine. It was in the middle of the afternoon, we decided to go on an adventure with two kids and two parents. Honestly I can't remember the rest of the day. I think we walked around, Sadie cried a lot about being cold, kids slept in the stroller, we ate something and we came back to the apartment. I have a small memory of looking around me and wondering what the hell I did to my life. There was some deep understanding we were not on vacation and we had rented out our house and had decided to change everything and the change was upon us and I was not sure I was okay with what was occurring.
The night was another night of Aaron crying suffering from jet lag.
Friday we tried to visit the shuk. Our stroller barely moved through the sea of people and we decided to come back another day. We then headed towards the charedi part of town to find an affordable coat for Sadie. I saw a sign on a building advertising a mall. We walked past a dark tinted door doubting that could be the entrance to a mall. After a clear solid circle around the building without any grand flashy entrance we hesitatingly walked towards the door and entered the building. It was a mall. I am using the word mall here generously. It was a building, dark and dank, a few shops sat sadly neither beckoning visitors or deterring them. Rather, each storefront depressed the viewer. I wanted to either sit down and have a good cry or exit the mall quickly. Unfortunately at the end of six shops sat a fancy baby boutique filled with expensive French clothing. A couple with their baby were pawing at fancy hats while the shopkeeper showed me three beautiful coats for Sadie. All of them were around 350 and 400 shekels. In dollars they were around $100 each, way out of our price range. I thought they were beautiful. I wanted to buy one for Sadie anyway. I brought her in and she took one look, shook her head and declared she did not like them.
The round French shopkeeper floated over to me and asked, "well?' He spoke English beautifully with a French accent. I looked at Sadie nervously. "Sadie," I asked her, "do you not like the jackets because they are not pink?"
"Yes, mommy." She replied.
I looked at the shopkeeper, shrugged, threw out my hands wide and joked, "they're not pink, she wants pink, what can I do?"
Secretly I was relieved. Living on savings does not allow you to buy $100 jackets.
His rotundness turned away from me, his eyes rolled without being rolled. He was annoyed I continued to use his precious air in the shop. I tried saying "shalom" but he ignored me focusing solely on buying customers.
We left the mall nervous we were not going to find a coat for Sadie in time before Shabbat started and Jerusalem closed down. Logan's Charedi cousin told us to check out Bazaar Strauss. I imagined a large bazaar, another type of open air market filled with clothing. No, bazaar strauss was a tiny building with a cashier in the downstairs and a little setup of clothing on the second floor you had to climb a rundown set of stairs to get to. There were two different types of coats, three different types of skirts, a few types of shirts, this was a store that did not allow variety. You essentially had either option A or option B. They only had black coats. I talked Sadie into liking one of the coats because it had a fancy belt. For $25 she had a thick warm coat - the days of her crying in the stroller while wearing three sweatshirts and Logan's jacket were behind us! She also wanted to buy two long skirts, one of them was a long black one she wore for three days straight until even she agreed it was too dirty to wear again.
Walking quickly back to our apartment before Shabbat we walked past a tiny restaurant hidden in a nook of a building. Two men in their 20's were sitting outside bent over two bowls of soup. I could not help it, I was entranced. I have never seen two men in America sitting at a restaurant talking and eating soup. I had to know what kind of soup did this to hip, young men. I looked at the sign plastered to the glass of the restaurant and read "Kurdish Food," somewhere among all of the Hebrew. Inside was a tiny shop with a stove, six different types of pots and a man in his 30's hanging out. We walked in and he immediately handed Sadie a fried ball which he called Kube. From what I saw in the restaurant there are two types of Kube. There is deep fried Kube you eat like a snack or there is a softer, less crunchy Kube you eat in soup.
Kube are round balls of dough stuffed with ground meat. They are delicious. They are filling. The menu consisted of Kube soup. You could get beet Kube soup, sour Kube soup or tomato pumpkin Kube soup. When I asked him what the soups tasted like he asked me if I wanted a sample. A sample consisted of a small bowl, him reaching into one of the pots in front of him and a generous heaping of soup poured into the bowl. Suffice to say, I had to order a bowl of Kube soup. We sat outside next to the young men enjoying their soup. Neither of them finished their soup. They both got up 3/4th of the way and blew threw numerous cigarettes.
We made it back in time to light Shabbat candles, change and walk to Logan's cousins in the German Colony. Logan's cousin's wife made a fantastic meal, probably one of the tastiest I have enjoyed while on our trip here. We had a lovely time and enjoyed their company and their friends' company very much. We walked back home and I spent the night with Aaron as he cried repeatedly and suffered from another night of bad jet lag.
Shabbat. Day of rest. We played outside all day. The first few hours of the morning we sat outside in our garden area and watched Aaron chase the stray cats that lived in the garden. The neighbor on the third floor feeds the cats so there are many cats calling the backyard home. At one point Aaron decided to try eating a piece of cat poop, an action that sent me into a tizzy for an hour or so. While we sat outside the neighbor adjacent to us opened their window, stuck their head out and proceeded to engage us in conversation wishing us a good Shabbat. The husband and wife were dressed beautifully, Shabbat ready while Logan and I were practically in our pajamas trying to regain some sanity after another sleepless night. I tried apologizing about all the crying and was told repeatedly they were children, there was nothing I could do. In the afternoon we found a park where Sadie played with two boys whose parents were American immigrants. It was wonderful connecting with a young, Jewish couple with kids who shared similar interests.
I can happily say Saturday night was the first night Aaron did not demand to stay up through half of the night and although he woke up repeatedly I knew we were going to beat his jet lag.
To be continued...
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I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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