Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Unwelcome Guest

There are some cities and some parts of the world that seem to be innately infested with certain types of animals unique to that territory. In Australia, wild kangaroos, wallabies and even koalas find unlikely homes alongside long stretches of suburban freeway. In Santiago, Chile one will find homeless dogs lurking around mountaintops and local street corners. In Kauai, Hawaii you will encounter undomesticated chickens running about outside the oceanfront balconies of luxury hotel rooms. In India, cows are known to take over pedestrian streets. Unbeknownst to me, apparently Israel is also a country saturated with a common prototype: cats. We had our first visit from a neighborhood cat, nicknamed Garfield, just a few hours ago. I saw Rafi's eyes bulge suddenly as we were sitting on the couch this evening, enjoying some down time after a long day. Fearing the worst, I braced myself for the announcement that there was a rat in our new home. Much to my surprise, however, with a quick turn of my head I saw an orange cat sprint through the hallway. In shock, we immediately got up and chased the cat back out from the open window through which he had entered. We then went on to receive several hisses and threatening meows in response to our honest attempt to talk to and make friends with our furry guest. It was as if we, the homeowners, were in the cat's way. In seconds, "Garfield" scurried away and we had learned our lesson about leaving a door or window open and unattended. 

Earlier today, prior to the cat run-in, our day consisted of a whirlwind of errands, including a visit to the Ministry of Interior in order to get an Israeli ID card, a stop at the local bank in attempt to create a joint Israeli checking account and a visit to a nearby gym in hopes of re-establishing a comfortable exercise routine. The list of things to do is seemingly endless when you immigrate to a new country. More on the aliyah process another time. Of course, when you have a lot to do, nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As my former colleague Allyn, a college counselor, used to say to me on a daily basis, "Erin, if you can just remember this one thing: that nothing is ever simple, you won't be disappointed." How true those words rang today, going back and forth between appointments in order to obtain copies of my birth certificate, proof of my Jewish identity and duplicate passport size photos (after, might I mind you, I had already gathered these materials and submitted them to the appropriate contacts months earlier). After running around in circles and waiting for what seemed like days for my number to be called at various venues, the afternoon eventually arrived with no Israeli ID in hand and no new bank account to claim. Hmmm, I guess I am got a little taste today of traditional Israeli bureaucracy, or in other words, what we commonly know as 'the run-around'. Take a deep breath, I told myself, and just take it step by step, a little bit at a time.

In order to distract me from my lack of accomplishment in my morning errands, we headed out to relax. Despite the frustrating start to the day, what did make me smile were the pit-stops we made throughout the afternoon on King George Street, a wide and bustling cobblestone-paved avenue filled with eateries, shops and people-watching opportunities. This busy street is nestled alongside the action-packed Ben Yehuda district that is overwhelming popular among young Americans. I couldn't help but stop for a freshly baked treat at one of the many bakeries wafting out the enticing and irresistable smell of buttery croissants and oven-fresh cookies. The delicate chocolate croissants that have always been my favorite did not fail to disappoint and I am thrilled to have the chance to indulge in these guilty pleasures on a daily basis from this point forward if my taste buds continue to insist.

Cowboy Rafi
After the bakery stops, onward we went. A little further down King George Street, we decided to stop into a local department store, which can only be explained as a crossroads between an upscale Target and a Macy's-meets-Sephora type of novelty shop. Even odder than this arrangement of seemingly unrelated items in one store, there was a small live band playing catchy Israeli tunes and singing in cheery voices. Did I mention they were wearing bright costumes and caked on makeup? They were quite noticeable to say the least. Embarrassingly enough, I found myself secretly humming along to the "distracting" tunes. Next to this band were life-sized caricature cutouts for people to put their faces through, just begging for pictures to be taken while onlookers watched. This one-of-a-kind department store, in a moment's time, had just merged with a circus-like fair environment. This sensory experience inside what was expected to be a normal department store is in fact oh-so-typical of the unexpected oddities you can find throughout Israel. I am trusting that in time I will become accustomed to such unusual surroundings, but for now, I guess I still have the mentality of a giggling, entertained tourist.

After running a few more errands on such a beautiful day in Jerusalem, we ended our outing atop the beautiful Dan Jerusalem Hotel. Even though it's mid-November, the weather here has been pristine, in the mid-70's everyday, which comes as much of a surprise to me since my previous visits in December - just a month later - were chilling to the bone, even bringing snowfall on rare days. The weather for the last few days has been perfect, wrapping you in a warm blanket just by stepping outside. It's the perfect time of year for a desert city, and with perfect warm weather like this topped by cloudless blue skies, beautiful sunsets are a given. Unfortunately, the sun sets quite early this time of year, somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. so although we saw from afar the mysterious oranges, reds and yellows that are characteristic of desert sunsets, we were just a few minutes too late to catch it on camera from the hotel's outside deck. 

No reason to worry, however, because there shall be a plethora of days ahead of me with beautiful sunsets to capture. For now, it's time to check out and head to sleep. I've made it through one complete day successfully and without a single nap. That will surely do wonders for my jetlag. We will be sure to shut the windows tonight to ensure that no furry creatures make their way indoors for a surprise midnight visit.


  1. Erin! What a wonderful blog! I can't wait to hear more stories!

  2. Thanks for following my adventures!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.