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09/15/2002 Entry: "July 8, 2002 Newletter #2 (names have been changed to protect identities)"
July 8, 2002 Newletter #2 (names have been changed to protect identities)
What a couple of days it has been! I thought I'd write you on just life. I had already killed the biggest cocroach in my life. Well, we just had this little tiny lizzard visit us in our home. He's so cute. I couldn't catch it. It isn't unusual to look up and see them on your wall. That is one thing you don't have to worry about. I keep wondering when up in the middle of the night if I'm going to step on a scorpion, but Isaac and Catherine say there haven't been any in the house, only outside.
I hear we have our own private bomb shelter under the house. However, it is flooded and mosquito infested. Issac says we go to the community one if we have a time of war. Too bad, I would have like to have a few items like water and toilet paper down there. There is a sheriteem (toilet)in each
of them, this is good. I had bad visions of having to use a bucket and us taking turns going to the surface to dump it. The bomb shelters have all been painted pretty, I'll photograph one. The lady who painted them has been given a N.T. so we hope to pray for her when we pass one by because
we'll be reminded of the seed sown. There is a bomb shelter on every block.
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So, grocery shopping. Ah hem. Well, I better learn to read Hebrew real quick. (I need MEGA PRAYER) for this. There are sales all the time, I did figure out how to know if I buy 2 I get a good price, or buy one get 2nd one half off, etc. but, I do not know how to tell if I have to buy 2 of the exact brand/flavor or if I can buy same brands different varieties. Each sale/item is different, so you must be able to read. Buying cheese. Oh boy. What a chore. First, here in the land of Feta, forget having a deal, it costs just as much as the states, or more. Bummer. There are no prepackaged shredded cheeses and no yellow cheese what so ever. If you want yellow cheese (which doesn't matter to me, since it is only dye) you will get an off white cheese. The Swiss (my favorite flavor normally) is
terrible here. I was so disappointed. Anyway, I did find two cheeses to work with. One is called yellow cheese but it is as white as they come and it is called gavina tsuba. gavina is cheese tsuba is yellow. Now, I have to order it by the 100 grams. Oh, yeah, I didn't get into the metrics of it yet! Anyway, if I want it in block I have to say goosh and if I want it shredded it is meguredit. They shred it at the counter at no extra cost.
so, metric system here I come. I have quickly learned grams/kilo's how to convert to lbs. and divide my price by 4.7 to learn the exchange rate on the US dollar so I know how much I am spending. I HATE math, we are not good friends, so the calculator is my new buddy and I can't wait to be able to figure things out in shekels and know by looking at a price tag how much is a good price with out converting into dollars.
Here is another wierd thing. Frozen vegetables. It is cheaper to buy smaller bags that were broken down by employees and hand bagged then buying large bags from the manufacterer even when they are on sale. Go figure that one?
Everything is in Hebrew and only some products have English on it. The Sour Cream and Plain Yogurt look almost exactly alike with the exception that the sour cream has a picture of a spoonfull of cream on the cover. We have to be careful.
Juice, everything has sugar. To get non sugared juice you pay a fortune. =
So we will have a little juice, not much. Grape juice here is icky. It
tastes just like wine w/out the alcohol effect. Chicken is half of what it
would cost in America, and frozen pre-cut breasts boneless are less than
half, and they are frozen fresh, not with that solution injected you see in
the states. They were cut up and packaged by the guy at the butcher
counter. Fresh chicken is good here too. Beef is expensive as there is so
little of it, but that is okay, I'm trying to lose weight anyway. I've
lost another two lbs. so since 3/10 I've lost 19 lbs and five of those
since I've been here in Israel. I lost 14 of those lbs since I left
Duluth. I hope to lose 17 more.
Another thing I learned about Israel is cold water is a commodity! The pipes for the water on on the roof. By the end of the day your cold water comes out almost as hot as your hot. Ick. We have to refrigerate our drinking water and freeze extra's so it is nice and cold. The hot water heaters are tanks on the rooftops. They get mega HOT. No shortage of hot water here, your hands will burn if not careful. In winter time there are back up electric water heaters. You have to turn them on 20 min before you wish to take a bath, then turn them off when done.
It also isn't unusual for vehicles to drive around with a sound system and they will play music or advertise the watermelon they are selling out of the back of the truck. There is a guy driving around now playing some music, but I've no idea what.
I wish leave you with an account of what it is like to drive with a Russian taxi driver. Make sure your wills are in order. The ride home from downtown yesterday made us completely realize there is a whole 'nother thing to fear other than bombs: Russians who drive your taxi's. Talk about
Mr. Toads wild ride! Oy, we were sliding in our seats back and forth. I must say, this was a sheruit, which is a van like a mini bus and seats 10 to 12 people. Even the inside of his van reflected him. usually the vans are clean, air conditioned. this one was dirty, ripped curtains, and it had a/c but he liked the windows open. I can't tell you how many busses he played chicken with. Paul kept saying, "ah, the bus will win" Wow, I actually was laughing the whole time, I couldn't help but feel I was just getting a new cultural experience. He drove so fast. We have these circles in the middle of our streets where there is an intersection. See, instead of having a grid style 4 way, it is in the shape of a circle, and you go around the circle, if you want to veer to the left you keep going in the circle then it comes out straight to keep going. If you wish to make a right, then you go 1/4 around the circle and turn right. Well, this driver kept going round and round this circle really fast cutting off traffic trying to get in. I'm laughing now typing it out. You probably had to be there to appreciate it, but I told Paul, "this is worth writing home about" and so I'm doing just that!
Finally, we applied for Aliyah (citizenship) today. We actually have to go back with proof of our rent contract, enrolment for school for the kids, proof of our bank acct. and a letter from us stating why we wish to live here. We were never told we needed any of that and so we waited in a long line for a couple of hours in a tiny slightly a/c office w/ people smoking in the corridor and the one good thing that came of it is she accepted the applications for the children so I don't need to bring them back when we go. We have the apps, but she stamped them for us so they will be accepted. This was a small reward from G-d for all we had to do. Interesting thing is we are told you can not get a bank acct in Israel if you are just on tourist status (which we were able to do this time, but times past we could not get it) anyway, you can't get a bank acct w/out being a citizen, but you can't become a citizen w/out a bank acct! Welcome to Israel they say, this is the way things are. So, we are collecting the
rest of the neccessary stuff and will submit later in the week or early next. May the L-rd's will be done!
I have to go. Sorry, not much spiritual news today, just wanted to give you an account of what everyday practical life is like! Much love, Mary