Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How I Spent my Birthday

6 am After a series of unsuccessful negotiations, the new boss of the Labour Union decides to show that he can hold the country hostage, especially during tourist season. He declares a general strike, which shuts down: Public and Government offices, the Interior Ministry, the Israel Railway, garbage collection, Outpatient hospital clinics, the electric company (except for essential services), Customs, and the Land Authority. Closure of the Airport, ports and border crossings is delayed by 24 hours.

6:30 am I leave the house and take the bus (which has not been affected by the general strike), to meet my cousins and our merry band of travelers at the train station in Tel Aviv. I print up the bus schedule to Caesaria, just in case we have no other travel option.

8:30 am I meet my cousins and their friend Sarah at the train station, and we need to cross the street in order to get to our bus transfer point. The pedestrian crossing turns to red while we are in the middle of the crosswalk, and we scurry to the other side of the light, whereupon two female policeman pull us over for jaywalking. I get a slap on the wrist, because my last moving violation occurred in 2002, and the police woman starts writing out a ticket (100 shequel) for my cousin, who could only present her with an American driver's license. I explain to her that they are Americans, that they are in fact leaving the country tomorrow, and that we got stuck in the middle of the crossing, with no choice but to move forward. She lets my cousin go, no ticket, but I am instructed to tell him that I saved him from having a criminal record in Israel.

8:45 am While waiting for the last member of our group, a specialty taxi offers to take all seven of us for a single price, door to door service to our destination. Hooray, we travel with air conditioning, in style, for only 35 shequel each.

9:30 am Arrival at Caesaria, and immediately the two stray cats lounging at the front gate use their radar and realize that I would almost rather be spending time with felines than with human beings. They come up to me, and rub up against my leg, as my cousin (who is deathly allergic to cats, can't even breathe the same air as them) starts screaming, "Make them go away!"

9:45 am Forgetting for the moment that I am at an ancient archaeological site, I fall on some random rock formation and twist my left ankle, bruise my entire right side of my body. This is before we are meant to go snorkeling and walk around for several hours.

10:30 am Snorkeling and underwater archaeological tour of the ruins in Caesaria, highly recommended.

12 noon Weariness, salt water inhalation and my ankle is getting worse. We eat lunch.

1 pm Chris Noth, star of Law and Order and Sex in the City , with regular appearances in Israeli shampoo and aftershave ads, walks by our table and sits down for a cup of coffee. Despite the fact that he has sat down, I go over and apologize for disturbing him, and he pretends that he is some random Italian man who understands neither Hebrew or English. I quickly cover by saying, "sorry, you look like a friend of mine," and walk away.

1:30 pm I get birthday cake for dessert, very rich chocolate hazelnut creation. Yum.

2 pm My cousin's wife (pregnant) and I (f**ked up ankle) decide that we would like to see a few more archaeological sites, and then return to their home for a barbecue. She and her husband also realize that there will in fact be a strike tomorrow at the airport, and that they must rush home and pack and hope to get on an earlier flight, before the entire airport closes. We call our original taxi driver, who says we cannot count on him for a ride back, at that price; we scramble to find an alternative solution.

3:15 pm I pass by Chris Noth once again, at the ancient theatre, we smile at each other.

3:30 pm Walking way too much on an ankle that needs to be iced and propped up, perhaps even x-rayed. We find a cab driver who charges us 50 shequel each to take us back to TA. I practically faint in the car from the exhaustion, dehydration and pain.

5 pm Arrive at my cousins' home in Tel Aviv, giant chaos as they pack up the rest of the house in an hour and do a barbecue simultaneously, while I unfortunately, have to sit on my gluteus maximus. I put ice on my food and burst out crying, partially from the pain, partially from the fact that I need medical attention and am being ignored, and partially because doctors make the worst patients. I call a friend of mine who doesn't quite live close by, but has access to a car, and plead with him to pick me up and take me home.

6 pm Pickup, I hobble to his car. (G-d, I hate feeling like an invalid, and I am still learning how to ask for and accept help.)

6:30 pm Sitting in rush hour traffic, feeling nauseous and experiencing a headache, and pain in my legs. I decide that since, in theory, I have been able to put weight on my leg and I don't want to sit for hours with the striking night shift at the hospital, I would rather go home than get an x-ray.

7:45 pm Stop off at pharmacy, pick up brace for ankle and Advil. Today coincidentally is the Best Sale of the Whole F**king Year Sale, so the lines are long, people are pushing me and I almost lose my balance several times. I start to cry so my friend tells me to find a bench somewhere and he will stand on the checkout line.

8 pm Home, must deal with my own cats and unpack and continue to hobble myself into bed and throw some Arnica on the area of inflammation. Self-medicate with a single malt whiskey.

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