Thursday, February 22, 2007


So, I'm back. Sort of. Still in the middle of writing a paper, but I took a couple of days to go gallivanting about this little country of mine, and I thought I really ought to write about it a bit. Two events in paticular actually.

The first was an innocent boat ride. Me and my travel companions decided to go spend a day in Haifa and a day in Netanya, bc we've never been there, and they're only brief train rides from where we live. So we did. I'd just like to footnote here, that trapezing all over the world with only the rules of spontanaiety and chillnes to guide you is fantastically liberating and makes for many adventures. However, these adventures are more soundly appreciated when one has not spent half the night in discussions of theoretical philosophy and theology. That just makes you crabby.

So we made a reservation for a boat ride. And we get there and the nice lady at the reception booth informs us that since we booked our passage at the same time as a group of Arab high school kids, we will be the guests of the captain - go straight up to the little captain's room, hang out with him the whole time, and remain completely seperate from said school group. She repeated the word "nifrad" -seperate- multiple times and with notable emphasis. Or, if we preferred, we could wait another hour for the next ride and go with a group of midrasha girls. (Israeli seminary girls.) This led to a heated private discussion. On the one hand, sharing a boat with a group of Arab teenagers was a thought that made us a little nervous. Then of course, we wouldn't exactly have the freedom of the entire boat to roam, as we may have liked. On the other hand, when are we going to get another opportunity to be the captain's special guests? Plus, when you think about it, are Israeli seminary girls so much more preferable? Also, there wasn't a whole lot to do in the area and waiting around for another hour wasn't quite so appealing.

So we decided for the sooner trip. It worked out well. The Arab teenagers were quiet and well behaved as far as teenagers go; I'd have to say far better behaved than just about any group of Jewish school children, of any age, Israeli or otherwise, that I have ever seen, and I've seen many. So on that head, there was no need for our apprehension. But what really struck me was the attitude of the people who worked there. They were so intent on keeping us seperate from the group. Even at the end, they told us not to disembark until after the group had. I couldn't really quite understand what they were so nervous about. Not only was the group perfectly calm and the kids relatively nice, but they were chaperoned by at least four or five teachers. I really didn't get it. But, we did get to steer the boat, and they were very nice to us, and even gave us a discount bc of the unexpected company.

The second event was, I fell off a horse. One of the things people always talk about doing in Netanya is riding horses on the beach, so we decided to check it out. We found a place that provided this service plus jeeping, both of which we wanted to do, so after a wonderful morning of hanging out on the beach and flopping about (fully clothed, of course) in the Mediterranean Sea, we headed over there. I have to say, to anybody who has ever been obsessed with horses, I definitely get it. They're still too smelly for me to get into on a regular basis, but there is something about riding a horse...they're very cool animals. Something about the power and strength of them, plus the whole "look-at-me-I'm-being-one-with-nature-bc -I'm-riding-an animal" thing. The water was beautiful. It was the last hour before sunset, so everything had that just before sunset golden tinge, and the salty smell of the water coupled with the confident strides of the horses created this amazing sense of power and feedom.

And then my horse got a little too confident.

Here's something you maybe don't know about me; I have this really strong fear of heights, and of falling. Seriously. Standing on chairs and walking down stairs make me very nervous. In general. It's not debilitating, that is to say, I don't let it get in my way too much. In this country, stairs are pretty much unavoidable. Also, I don't like being a coward, so I make myself do things that scare me, sometimes. Like roller coasters. And hiking along thirty foot drops with sharp jagged rocks at the bottom, along a ridge that's maybe three inches across with nothing to grab onto so you have to kind of shimmy sideways, and you're one in a really long line of slow moving seminary girls who have to stop every five minutes to take pictures(just when you're getting your balance and finally thinking it might be over soon without a gory and painful death.) (Ok, maybe that one wasn't so voluntary. And maybe I kind of freaked out. It happens.) And getting on horses.

And it was going well, I was enjoying it. But every time my horse started going a little faster than I was comfortable with, I pulled back on the reins, bc I was more comfortable when he went slower. And then we got to this bit where we all had to be walking more or less in a single file line. And we got a little behind. My horse didn't like being behind, he wanted to be with the group, so whenever he got behind during the course of the ride, he'd start cantering a bit to catch up. Which I let him do, bc he wasn't going too fast, and bc I knew he'd stop when he caught up with everyone else. Only this last time, I guess we were more behind than usual, bc he broke into a run, and when I tried to pull back on the reins I lost my balance. I think I kind of rode the side of the horse for a few feet and then plunged off into some nearby brush growth. I must have screamed, though I don't remember specifically. Sof davar, I was shaken, but not hurt. Nothing broken, I'd been wearing a helmet, etc. So, I got back up on the horse and we continued back to the place. One of the madrichim hung back with me and kept the horse under control and tried to chat with me to calm me down and stuff. He was really nice about it, telling me he'd fallen at least twenty times, and that it was really great that I'd gotten right back up and all that. But I didn't have the energy to be that responsive, and I think he felt bad about it. He was cute too.

Anyway, after that we went jeeping, and that was awesome. They gave us a ride to the train station too. All in all, a very cool day, although I have been sore ever since. Which, I guess, is fine, considering I have nothing to do but sit on my bed and write my paper.


Blogger Elli said...

I keep forgetting how much fun it is to read your blog, so every time I get around to my blogroll I am again pleasantly surprised.

I'm still hoping to find a way of spending Pessach in Israel with my new little family, but at the moment the whole "travelling with baby" business is still kind of scary.

Plus things like the boatride you described make me sort of sad at the moment and lead me to frown a little at the thought of buying the plane tickets.

Anyways, looking forward to your next post!

Lots o' love,


12:54 AM  
Blogger Tobie said...

The weirdest thing about the boat thing was that, despite the preoccupation with keeping us 'nifrad', they sent me down to run the kiosk for some five minutes. Except that they locked everything up and I didn't know how to operate the cash register and I'm not sure that they really spoke Hebrew, so it was basically gesturing and looking puzzled when people tried to buy stuff and grinning sheepishly in a "boy, I'm clueless" way and having them grin sheepishly back at me. Fascinating little experience.

4:30 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

Elli!!!!! unfortunately, I'm actually going home for Pesach, so even if you do come, I'll probably miss you guys, unless you stay a little longer, which I don't know if you can afford to do. Post pictures of it on your blog, ok? at least then I'll be able to see you....

Tobie- yeah, the whole thing was kind of surreal, wasn't it? Or really, just confusing. Ah well, Jews will be Jews....

5:43 AM  
Blogger Shtreimel said...

Tracteronim, oh I miss that!

12:48 PM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

What an adventure.
I never got the fun of riding horses, even though I tried it.

I don't knwo what I would have chosen, I think I would've waited hour.
On a boat with arabs?sounds awful.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

see, it really wasn't awful, that was the thing. they were nice kids. I totally didn't understand what the people who worked there were so afraid of.

5:22 AM  
Blogger Avi said...

I'm curious: did you sense the motivation for the "nifrad" obsession was your safety? Your comfort? A "this is what we do when Jews and Arabs cross paths" reaction (with no real thought behind it)? In certain consideration of the Arab group? Agav, I just read this: Coffee with my enemies. Appropriate.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

I don't know what to make of that article. I suppose it's what people describe as chilling. but no, I don't really think the people at the boat place were worried about our safety. it seemed more of a concern with personal comfort. but the adamance with which they insisted...felt more like some sort of a cultural thing. "Jews and Arabs should not mix." It's not that I agree with the idea on principle, but you see why it's so difficult practically speaking.

2:34 PM  

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