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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The long and windy road

We had a Sunday!!  Well it was actually a Tuesday but it was such a fun day.  A run around and get things done day.  An afternoon trip with the kids day.  A no need to wake up and rush out the door day.   It felt like a Sunday.   Though I guess I was missing a theoretical day because we never really had Sundays before in our family.  Since I don't work on Shabbat (Sabbath) the trade-off has always been to work most Sundays, or Sunday nights or Saturday nights or some combo therein that took away Sunday as a free day.  In some respect this made aliyah easier for our family because we didn't have to adjust to the loss of Sunday (though I have written before about my children's views of school on Sunday).

Back to the topic at hand--we had the day off  because election day here is a national holiday.   In the afternoon we voted and took the kids on a little trip to a National Park about 25 minutes away.  The 25 minutes is before you turn onto the entrance and travel 15 treacherous minutes on a rather narrow, rocky path.  I wouldn't call it a road--it was more like a suggested path designed specifically by nature to destroy the undercarriage of your vehicle with sharp and craggy rocks the size of your head.  But we brought our brand new smartphones with us (Yes we have entered the 21st century--folks, we live in a country that has more cell phones than citizens, so it was inevitable), and Waze kept up with us down our windy path.  When we finally made it to a "parking area" we met some Israelis who it seemed were also a bit put off by the windy path and they showed us a better way in and out.  Perhaps we just don't have enough of the adventurous spirit because at the beginning of our hiking trail (which was a narrow trail for single-file walking)  was a sign (which you could only get to by climbing over boulders taller than Ariella) that said "No cars beyond this point".   Michael and I tried to figure out how one could even get a car beyond that point if you wanted to.  I think it would be impossible, but clearly enough people must have tried, and enough of them that a sign was necessary.  Or it was Israeli bureaucracy at its finest.  The park was spectacular:
Sign telling you no cars beyond this point

One more picture from the elections.  We voted.  Can I even state in words how incredible it was to vote?  I can try.  I won't pretend we were super thrilled with the choices and M got caught up in playing the "prisoner's dilemma" with his vote but what an experience to be living in Israel and casting a vote for the next government.  The election workers were so sweet because they were excited about how excited we were.  Everyone was just feeling good.  We voted in a public school a few blocks away.  Tables for the different candidates were set up outside, along with a lemonade stand that some entrepreneurial little kids set up, and a man asking people to sign up for organ donation.  The weather was amazing so it was definitely a get out and vote type of day.  Here is the booth (note that each slip has the little letters that were on the billboards and this is how you identify your party though of course the name of the party is also on the slip, so if you forgot the random and meaningless letters you could also identify your party by the popular name in small print that is used in all other contexts).  You simply pick your slip, put it an envelope and place the envelope in the ballot box which is guarded by the election workers.  Actually I don't think it could be easier.
But now we're back to the daily grind.  I have my final exam in ulpan next week.  Today one of the students (and I won't name her country of origin) asked the teacher if she could get us an advance copy of the written exam.  We literally only take the ulpan to advance our language skills.  I can not imagine how ingrained the culture of cheating must be in one's culture to make you feel comfortable asking your teacher to help you cheat on an exam whose results have no bearing on the rest of your life.  Bizarro.

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