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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Time Travel - Israel Style

We had a tour to get to at 3 pm between the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. Because we already checked out at 11 and then hung at the pool until 1:30, I had a half hour to get the kids and myself showered and changed in a poolside changing area before the taxi was coming. That was fun!

My brother (who opted to rent a car on the way up to Yam Hamelech) was still hanging at the hotel, so I dumped all my wet stuff with him and at 2 pm, we were off.

On the way to our next stop, we had one of those great taxi drivers who doubled as a tour guide.

We learned about how the unfortunate water shortage in Israel causes the Dead Sea to recede a meter every year. He explained how much closer the water used to be to the highway and now we can see so much land separating the highway from the Sea. He pointed out striations that lead up to the water and explained that the striations were like the rings on a tree stump. Each striation was left behind by salt sediment and was a meter apart from the next, signifying a years lapse in time due to water receding.

He pointed out the first ever Dead
Sea Spa, built in 1975 and it was eerie actually. Because the building used to be right up to the water, and now people were taking a shuttle from the building to the Sea, because the water had receded so much.

He also pointed out the fact that when the water recedes, the salt sediment is left behind and sits in one spot for so long, it corrodes that spot and then a sink hole forms. In fact, we noticed the warning signs for the sink holes.

He then told us that just a few weeks pri
or to our visit, a man and his girlfriend were walking a dog in the area and a sink hole opened up, causing the man to drop 20 meters, where he unfortunately lost his life.

The taxi driver also pointed out all the farms in the area, because the soil by the dead sea was actually so mineral rich, it was great for farming melons and other fruits and veggies.

It was actually all fascinating. At least for me it was,





not so much for them...




We reached "Genesis Land" just before 3
pm, where another American family was waiting to take the same English tour as us.

What is "Genesis Land", you ask?

It is an experience of "Biblical" proportions.

You are met by Biblical characters who take you through the era of history that pertains to them, by utilizing hands on activities as well as visually via props and a set-up similar to what may have been during that era.

We were met by Eliezer (Abraham's servant) w
ho had us don this era appropriate frocks and then guided us via a camel ride to Abraham's tent. Then Abraham picked up from there, sharing some of his history in first person of course. And because Abraham was known for his generous hospitality, he offered us dried fruit, as well as tea and coffee.



My kids inhaled all the dried apricots in under 2 minutes, but left the dates for Hun. No one really wanted the "golden" raisins. (Apparently we are "raisin racists" we only prefer black raisins.)


(In Abraham's tent, having tea, coffee and dried fruit .... oh, and some futuristic processed food)

The tea and coffee, were really good (even on a day that was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit). It was extremely sweet. So we asked Abraham,

"Abraham, do you add sugar to the tea and coffee?"

And Abraham responded,
(in his heavy Australian accent - who knew Abraham was Australian...)

"When those from the future come visit me in the past, we would offer sugarless coffee and tea, but all those from the future would ask, do you have sugar. So, we from the past, thought - if they keep asking for sugar, then SO IT SHALL BE DONE. And lo and behold - the tea and coffee come SUGARFIED."



He said something like that.



Australian I mean, Abraham.


Then, after all the tea and coffee, we were happy to see that those from the past deemed it important to also have for those from the future, actual toilets with appropriate plumbing.

After potty breaks, it was time to live like the forefathers did.

We made our own pita bread on a fire...



(NO - This is not some weird Biblical call out to G-d. This is what my kids look like after I say, "Show me your pita dough.")


(I am pretty sure I heard Australian I mean, Abraham say,

"Throw yu pey ta on tha bah bee.")

(It's hard to write in Australian)

We were also taught how to write in Ancient Hebrew Text. Hun liked this activity for some reason.



...complete with special quill pen and ink, which is probably why they REALLY give you the ancient looking frock to wear .... so you don't sue them for ink stains.


And what's that? Where is Bam, you ask again?

Just chilling in his frock under Abraham's tent. Isn't that what every infant does?

Apparently, there are some other workshops they offer, like making butter and herding sheep. The sheep were already herded that day, how many times a day can that workshop be done?

So our time with Abraham was done and Eliezer was ready to lead us back to the cashier exit, via camel. Since Hun was only able to take two kids on the way up to Abe's tent, it was now time for me to take So on the way back. I am happy my camel cooperated, since he was walking the edge of a cliff. We were also following very close behind a camel that lost its tail in a camel fight. The owners felt his shame and loss of dignity and gave him a make-shift tail, as a sheet draped over his back side. I had the good fortune of seeing just WAY too much every time that sheet shifted.



And of course, when we returned to the cashier , exit , future - we had our usual "end of outing" ice cream and ices.

"Genesis Land" was actually really fun. I would suggest it to anyone taking a trip to Israel.

We had a great time!



People have asked me if this is one of those "touristy" pictures, where they superimpose you onto a background. Nope! That is a real background, and we posed for my own camera. It is one of the most beautiful views ever. And funny - pretty much every one who goes to "Genesis Land" has a picture in or close to this exact spot. And believe you, me - if we backed up just a few feet, we would all have fallen to our deaths. I don't remember exactly, but one direction of this view is actually looking out to the "Valley of Jordan" because the Country, Jordan is right across the way.

After we ended our tour, we went to the "Malcha Mall" where we met Hun's cousins and their daughter for dinner at Pizza Hut. Eating at Pizza Hut is a treat for us kosher keeping Jews, but I will explain that in a later post.


Eating Pizza with the cousins.


Some of the food actually went INTO his mouth.


So Thursday is done, which means one more weekend in Israel. It was a good one.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not Me Monday - "Children Style"


Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival of sweet children antics was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else's children have not been doing this week.






It was not THESE three children who had a FABULOUS time at Kiddieland yesterday.


I certainly did not allow my children to drink unG-dly amounts of caffeine because there was a free Pepsi soda fountain available ALL DAY at Kiddieland.

The caffeine storming through their blood streams did not propel them along this particular ride.

It is not my almost seven year old child who FINALLY has a loose tooth, about a year behind most of her friends. She is
not now walking around with her finger practically glued to said tooth, to hasten the tooth loss. This does not annoy me. I would never be disgusted by that sort of behavior.

It is not my five year old daughter who still enjoys placing balls in her shirt and in addition, she did not move on to keeping shirts dangling from her head to mimic the feeling of long flowing hair. She does not have a mother who is really not surprised about whose loins she came from. This is also NOT the same girl who asked begged to have a first sleepover with a 5 year old boy named "Bo"
.

It is NOT my adorable three year old boy who took a chair, climbed into a cabinet to retrieve a screwdriver and then succeeded to change the batteries in his obnoxious noise making fire truck because his Mom was avoiding this terror at all costs not "sure" where the screwdriver was, even though aforementioned boy kept telling her EXACTLY where the screwdriver was.

And it was not this adorable 13 week old boy -

- who twice, was placed on his belly and then found on his back. If only he would be so kind to show me how THAT happened...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yam Hamelech - There Is Salt In My Eye

YAM HAMELECH
I
I
I
V



The Salty Seas



Taking a therapeutic dip...

But more on that later...




Wow! This Israel thing is just dragging out. If only the actual trip was this long.

I failed to mention in my last Israel post about Israel's latest project. They always have some project going on. And because Israel is the size of my pinkie, their projects affect the entire Country.

They have undertaken the construction of a train route "The Railroad Project". Uh, like I said, Israel is the size of my pinkie. Really, no need for a train route.

They are trying to eliminate or minimize traffic or something, but we all know, THAT will never happen.

Frankly, we are still all waiting for the END of this project to happen, and that is so not happening either.

In fact, when we were on are way from "Monkey Park" to "Mini Israel" my husband asked the taxi d
river.

"Ma Zeh (What's t
his?),"

thinking it was some beautifully constructed walkway up to a Mountain.

Well, apparently it was elevated railroad tracks that looked like the "Great Wall of China" only it abruptly ended at a mountain.

Why you ask?

Because the very bright, Israeli Engineers
failed to account for the necessary drilling through mountain to continue the railroad and then they ran outta money. So if you ever want to take a scenic train ride through Israel, just be prepared to disembark 500 feet from the ground and bring your repelling equipment with.


Speaking of mountain
...

This is just some of the view we had on the way down to "Yam Hamelech". This is just one part of Masada. Masada is the mountain that King Herod ran to when Jerusalem was conquered by the Romans and he built a huge Fortress there. It is over 1300 feet above the "Dead Sea". It is a popular tourist attraction due to the remains of the fortress and some of its contents. While there is a cable car that can take you up most of the way, I have climbed Masada twice. And by climbed, I mean CLIMBED - from the bottom up beginning at 3 in the morning and reaching the summit/fortress at 5 am just in time for the HOT sun to reveal itself. But this day, just passing by.

Yam Hamelech - literally translated means "Sea of the Salt", because it is a sea full of salt among other minerals. However, it is typically referred to its more loose translation "The Dead Sea", because it is so dense with minerals, no creature can thrive or live in this water.

Yam Hamelech is THE lowest point on the face of the earth. It is 1300 feet BELOW sea level.

But Geography, Geology, Math and History aside, my favorite part about Yam Hamelch is the SPAS!

We stayed at "Le Meridian", a lovely 5 star hotel, IF you can really call any hotel in Israel 5 stars (It's a lack of custo
mer service/profound difference in mentality thing).

Our room/rooms were awesome. We had a family suite. Walked in one door and had a lovely 3 foot by 3 foot entrance. Straight ahead was a huge living room with a couch that opened into sleeping for two. We added a cot to this area. And, I kid you not - there was still room for roughly five more beds in this room. In the room was a TV - so I had no idea what my kids were watching, Scooby Doo and Dora speaking Hebrew, mostly. And there was a walk in kitchenette with fridge.

Back track to 3 foot entrance and to the right, a completely separate room that belongs to Bam, Hun and myself. In this room was a huge bathroom with separate shower and Jacuzzi tub.

Each room had a lovely balcony. We were a corner unit, so the kids balcony looked directly over the water, while ours wrapped around the corner and gave us a view of both, the Dead Sea and ..... mountains and ....construction and ..... MacDonalds.

The pros to this set up:

1. The privacy factor, kids had their space, we had ours (Bam included). They could go to sleep and we could chill and watch a Movie and not disturb them...

2. Space - we had sooooooo
much space.

The Cons:
1. The privacy factor. We were separated by an entire entrance. If a kid woke up in middle of the night and left the main doo
r of our unit, I would be none the wiser.

2. One bathroom, in the space that belonged to Hun and myself. It would have been smart for space like this to eithe
r have 2 bathrooms or create a Jack and Jill entrance to the bathroom, so one does not need to enter our room to use it, but this unit must have been engineered by the train people.

3. I would never know if my kids went out on the balcony and jumped. This does not really leave me having a good nights sleep.

Eh ... I can't complain - pool and spa, pool and spa , yum food galore, pool and spa...

We got there Tuesday late morning. We checked in. We hung by the pool till 530 pm. We gave baths and headed to the
dining room at 6:30 where there was a spread that could feed a small country in Africa. We pigged out.

I will interject here that also with us at the hotel was Zeidy (my Dad), D. my brother and S. my brother with his wife an
d 3 kids. My mom refused to come because she is a party pooper does not like to sit at a pool all day. I guess I got the sun worshipping/pool sitting genes from Dad then.

After pigging out, we put kiddies to bed and wat
ched "Gran Torino".

Breakfast and Dinner is included in our stay. So the next morning we pigged out again, and then went down to the actual Yam Hamelech. Because the water is so dense with minerals, you automatically just float. One can not really sink in the Dead Sea. But word of advice - don't shave IMMEDIATELY preceding your Dead Sea entrance. It's like pouring salt on a wound, LITERALLY!

People from all over the world come visit the
Dead Sea spas, because they deem the natural mineral dense waters to be extremely therapeutic, for various maladies. I don't know about that, because thankfully, I didn't go with any specific maladies. But I do know this, if you want to get all greased up, take a dip in this mineral laced water. And DO NOT touch your eyes.

My older kids did make an entrance attempt. After a few seconds of, "My pee pee is burning" Ro and Ate actually stayed for a while. So, was not enamored of burning "pee pees".

After all of 40 minutes on the beach, we headed back to the pool, where we remained again, until dinner time.

The pool side cafe provided us with lunch and ices and slushies, and their version of a Frappacino, which was more Frap and less Cino, but YUM.

And today there was entertainment by the p
ool. If you could call it that.

Like everything else I touched on that refers to the odd mentality that belong to Israelis, family entertainment at the pool seems to follow suit. I was still in the room nursing Bam, when the children fun time at the pool was taking place. When I came down I saw that So was involved in some team play at the shallow end of the pool. Three women and a guy were running this particular event. The women were wearing a sequined midriff baring top and the most minute amount of material covering their toochis, that one MIGHT refer to as a skirt. They had bright yellow and pink make up all over their face and had metallic false eye lashes.

Every so often, the Israeli version of a "theme pa
rk" character would come out and wave to the kids. We are talking about costumes that look like they were stolen from a crypt where mediocre college mascots went to die. There was a cross between Big Bird and a scarecrow. I saw a bear/rodent thing. They all looked as if they have never seen the inside of a cleaners. It gave me the heeby jeebies, frankly, and I am an adult.

I came to find out later, about one particular game the children were playing in the pool. The activity morons directors shot out some small round foam balls and the kids were divided into boys against girls. They had to collect as many of the foam balls as they could and were specifically directed to grab as many as they could and STUFF THEM IN THEIR BATHING SUITS, to collect them. The girls stuffed them down the tops of their swim suits while the boys stuffed them down the front of their pants. I only found this out when I found some leftover foam balls floating in the pool and asked my brother what they were.

FIVE STAR HOTEL??

Then, at 12 pm, at a pool full of families with small impresionable children, they decided to move on to games for Dads. I am h
appy to say, Hun did not participate.

They called up a Dad and the object of the game w
as to finish a race and beat his opponents time. Simple enough, right?

Lets throw in some extra details.

Dad comes up and puts on a bright red wig
that has rollers in it. He then has a really awful make-up job done to his face. He also steps into a costume that will give the illusion he is wearing a sequined bikini, complete with stuffing in the chest area to create the illusions of "cachungas" the size of Dolly Parton's. He then chugs a beer, A BEER (12:00 in the afternoon y'all) and then jumps in the pool and swims the width and gets out and races three times around a poll . TIME!

It's "Beer Chugging, Dad In Drag"
funtime y'all.

My brother and I were cracking up at the abs
urdity and Hun was not amused at all.

We were at the pool all day, except I left m fam
ily for an hour and a half when I went to get a massage and a facial - oh yeeeeeeah!

We had another yum dinner spread. At dinner, some more bizarre looking characters came by to let us know that there would be "FAMILY" entertainment that night in the little lounge. It would be a Circus act for children beginning at ....... 9 pm at night. Uh, 9 pm you say? For children? Ha!

That night, after putting the sun stroked, exhausted children to sleep, I left Hun with the kids and went with my brother D. and my Dad across the road to shops and made my purchases of "spa" products. "Dead Sea" and "Ahava" lotions and creams galore. I hope I brought back enough, because I don't know the next time I will be in Israel.

On the way back into the hotel, my brother and I
decided to check out the family friendly "Circus". We peeked in and after seeing a quite scantily clad woman wearing a next to nothing "ringmaster" outfit (the sexy version - only she was a bit overly plump for it) and five adult men on stage, I was quite thankful that my young kiddies were tucked safely in their beds. That nights Movie for Hun and myself - "Doubt".

The next morning - more YUM breakfast.
We were checking out that morning, and our plan was to stop off at a tourist attraction later in the afternoon, on the way back to Jerusalem. So we had about 3 solid hours to be at the pool.

I was sitting in the shallow end with my kids, watching them as I always do. So would swim off every so often, because she has mastered the art of swimming in the deep. I would watch her go off and return. I am one of these people who makes sure my children take swimming lessons, because I believe it is a necessity in life to know how to keep yourself afloat in water. However, I NEVER EVER leave the kids to ONLY the attention of Lifeguards. Lifeguards can not and should not be trusted as the sole supervisors of those swimming in the water, in Israel or elsewhere for that matter.

But I certainly did not trust the lifeguards at this particular pool. While there were lifeguard towers up high on either side of this rather large pool, 2 men chose to sit in low down chairs together, right next to each other, smoking and chatting.

I was sitting on a ledge in the shallow end watching my two younger kids one foot ahead of me playing. The fact that I did not see what was happening ONE foot to the right of me, is an indication of how concentrated I am on my own children.

But I looked up across the pool at the lif
eguard yelling, pointing and blowing his whistle, while still on the deck of the pool.

The same time I looked to my right, and saw a small girl in a wet suit, face down, still and floating, was the same moment an older girl (who turned out to be her sister) quickly pulled her out. As soon as she came above water, she took a breath and started crying.

I was livid. The lifeguard, who never jumped in and could almost not be heard over the poolside noise was saying,

"Ani Samti Lev - V'he Ozeret"

Meaning, "I was paying attention, and I got her (the sister) to help."

I shudder to think what would have happened if one more minute, or even a few more seconds went by.

It just reiterates to me, my feeling that parents should not feel a false sense of security just because a lifeguard is in the area. As parents, we are responsible for our children.

And in other news ... I get that Europeans are a more liberal bunch. In general, they laugh upon us that we are so uptight about our bodies and that we have a sense of privacy about things. But, when you join tourists from around the world, some of whom very much retain a sense of dignity, please do not let your 8 year old boy walk around the pool naked. And why was it that the lifeguard only said something about it, when the naked 8 year old boy actually started walking into the pool, with his overly hair dyed, smiling European mother right behind him. I mean, it's not like the lifeguards were actually busy watching those who were drowning swimming in the pool.

Besides for those few snafus, Yam Hamelech was the actual VACATION part of our VACATION, and much enjoyed.



Brother D. and Ate
(Hard to see in this picture, but evidence of previously posted "Ate's face meeting pavement)

So and Hun having Fun!



The Cousins hanging with Zeidy (Grandpa).


Cousin L. and Ate. They are about the same age and practically inseparable. Ate wakes up every morning and proclaims,
"I want to play with L. She my best fend. I lub her."
(She is kind of a seductress if you ask me.)



Here they are again... I kid you not, they picked their own small square table in the dining room to dine at. Reminded me of the meatball scene in "Lady And The Tramp".



And what's Bam been up to you ask?


He did a whole lot of this. He loved the pool and the sun...


But he is just as happy after a nice warm bath.



video

Just starting one of our glorious days - (don't mind the mess)


video


Ate tells the best stories at dinner time.

Yam Hamelech was great, but this means there are only 3 days left in Israel.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Take Me Out To The Ball Game...

LOOK FOR MY EDIT DOWN BELOW!



WE INTERRUPT THIS REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM
(more talk of a recent Israel trip) PLEASE STAND BY:



Cubs vs. Phillies


IT SUCKED!

Shout out to the Cub's fan who soaked Shan
e Victorino with stale beer -

MAN UP DUDE!


(They ejected the wrong guy)


EDIT IN RED:

I left the video feed up, but it is no longer there due to copyright infringement. The video clearly showed the guy who threw the beer and then showed a totally different guy being ejected. This particular video was actually posted by 2 guys who used their DVR to rewind and slow-motion the event and point out exactly what was happening.

But here is the clincher, what I just learned from Hun.

Last night, Hun kept looking for his secretary who was sitting 3 rows behind the Cubs dugout. Her family is hooked up with major season ticket seats. He even tried to get to her row at some point, but security would not let him close enough to find her ..... anyway.

I just learned, it was not only one guy who was ejected from the game. 4 whole rows behind the dugout were all hauled off to jail, including my husband's secretary. She just showed up to work in her Cubs t-shirt, straight from the slammer. I kid you not. And I still don't think they have the actual guy.







Our seats were awesome, the game was awful.

But, fun we had.


First, know
THIS about me. I am a huge sports fan. I always find it odd that I married a guy who is one of five boys and he only grew an interest in sports through me. Because he is not a sports freak, we hardly purchase tickets to sporting events. However, we tend to have connections guaranteeing us trips to sporting events from time to time.

When we lived in New Jersey, Hun's uncle had se
ason tickets to the Knicks games. We went often (always bringing hot dogs with). But I loathe New York sports teams, so I spend most of the time stalking curiously watching all the celebrities in the front row. (with binoculars of course) My two favorites. Watching Star Jones PRE - Gastric Bypass, chow down on nachos, foot longs, beer, more foot longs, more beer and nachos a la mode.

And David Blaine - the magician. During every time out and commercial break he would pull out a stack of cards and perform card tricks for those sitting around him.

We also went to a Jets game (that woul
d be football for you non-sportsters). They were playing the Steelers that day. While I was rooting for the Steelers, I was fortunate that I was not ACTUALLY wearing a Steelers Jersey. Because if you were sitting in the nosebleed section amongst all the die-hard, plastered, Jersey (as in New Jersey and Jersey wearing) Jet fans, and you were dumb enough to be wearing a Steelers Jersey - you were going home reeking of urine. Yes, that is right, I saw more than I needed when a Jet's fan actually peed on a Steeler's fan.

So getting doused with beer, Victorin
o, not so bad.

I would not have minded the Cubs losing last night, if they actually PLAYED a little. They didn't even try. 12-5, they were creamed, pummeled, dismembered.

The last time we went to the game, was last year for my Anniversary (Hun knows the way to my heart). He actually purchased THOSE tickets, and the Cubs were doing great last year, so he had to get them from Craigs List.

Hun is offered tickets, A LOT, by business associ
ates. They become season ticket holders, so we don't have to, and then we get FREE tickets. Which is great, because I would have hated the game last night even more if I had paid for it.

We were actually given four tickets to a game early in the season Cubs vs. Cardinals. That day - it poured and the game was canceled and re-scheduled as the day game of a double header. I was looking forward to taking the girls to the newly scheduled game, because I rather take them to a day game. I intend to make sports fans outta my kids, girls or boys, no difference. However, then we learned we were going to be in Israel on that date, so we would not be attending that game.

Last night we went to the game with my niece and her husband who are visiting from Israel. Because she is my brother's daughter - she is a sports fan as well.

Hun and I took the train and met them at the p
ark since they had been downtown all day. I came fully equipped with hot dogs, chips, pop-corn and grapes (all of which cost much less than 5.00 dollars each). Part of the laws of Kosher prohibit us from eating dairy with or immediately following the eating of meat. But we may have dairy, shortly before we eat the meat. So, someone came up with the bright idea that we get ourselves some ice-cream first, dessert before dinner.

Only, after we already walked off and the ice cream in the little Cubbie Hat bowls was becoming liquid oozing over the sides and down our arms did it dawn on us, that the same person with the bright idea to get the ice cream, failed to grab a stockpile of napkins. Thank G-d our seats were the four off an aisle, or unsuspecting people would have found droplets of Edy's ice cream on their laps.

And so we sat, and talked about our day and watched the Cubs bend over and... TRY to play baseball. We sat in some seats that were supposed to advertise something (Chicagonow.com) on some sort of TV (CLTV), so we got free T-shirts and free foam fingers (only it was a thumb, and I kinda wish it was that other finger). And if we wore the shirts we would get free Tar-Jay gift cards.

HELL YEAH I'LL WEAR THE SHIRT! I WOULD WEAR A BEANIE WITH A PROPELLER FOR SOME FREE TAR-JAY!

(Uh, that's Target by the way)

I think the only people who could enjoy this ga
me are Phillie fans, those who were plastered and blonds.

Seriously, we were more entertained by the blond chicks in front of us who were obviously there to support the Cubs, and yet - every time SOMEONE would score, they would jump up and start clapping, until it hit them that 12 out of 17 times, they were cheering for the opposing team.


If I start a web-site called Simple-minded blonds.com, and post their pictures, do you think they would get excited because they think they are
"humble" and "full of mind"?

And the 3 stooges behind me, who could not even speak coherently due to their obvious level of intoxication .... every time they spilled their beer, my niece and I would feel spray on the back of our ankles. And holy showers, I hope to G-d it was beer and not some other "Golden" spray, because come to think of it, I never saw them get up to go to the bathroom.


Seriously, check out my new website "Sh#@faced a-holes.com" and look for your picture.

(That one on the right just knew I had a website and so he got smart).

So we sat there and then waved like dorks when the CLTV camera dude came by.



We continued to watch the Cubs take a pounding...


but don't we look like we are having fun
(newlyweds on the left, aren't they adorable)

Well of course we were having fun, check out all the FREE loot I came away with...



And on the way out, totally defeated, out of the GAZILLIONS of people there, I actually bumped into someone from my community who also happens to read my blog. I will call her "blackberry"

SHOUT OUT BLACKBERRY!

So my Cubbies lost, yet again - I still LOVE 'em. Even if it means I have to wait 40 minutes in line to get into the Subway.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Who Loves Monkeys?

It seems many of my usual commenters are on Summer vacay.

Either that, or my posts
have been waaay boring.

It might be a bit of both, and yet, I will continue with this latest topic - my recent trip to Israel, because ...

...well, frankly

because it's MY blog and that is what I feel like doing.

Monday in Israel was the first WHOLE day we had to ourselves. There was nowhere we had to be at a set time to bathe and dress and fake pose for pictures like we love it.

We got ourselves a taxi and started driving south to "Monkey Park". Because my husband is Israeli born himself, Hebrew is his first language and he is very comfortable chatting up the taxi drivers. This particular driver "Yaari" loved making conversation.

Yaari ended up being more like a tour guide,
then just a taxi driver. On the way down to the Modiin/Chashmonaim area, he pointed out a very long wall on either side of the highway. This is the not "The Great Wall Of Israel" No, I wrote about THAT wall in a previous post. This is a controversial security wall. It is a wall, that funny enough, many people in American Politics are not proponents of. Yet, some of these politicians are strapping on tool belts and layering bricks on a wall between Mexico and our own Country.

This wall is the difference between mass suicide bombings (which I think should be called "HOMICIDE bombings") and the recent calm that exists in cities in Israel. On either side of this highway are Arab villages that house leaders and members of organizations, whose sole purpose in life, is to wreak havoc and propose mayhem which ultimately takes innocent lives, just to get attention for a cause, that is not even a cause in the first place.

Also up, above this long winding wall - THE HUUUUUUUUUUGEST PRISON FOR TERRORISTS, anywhere in the world. As we drove past, I could only think how this would be a rather inconvenient time for a prison riot leading to inmate break out.

But on to MONKEYS...



Like this monkey, which is actually female, and for which an above the lip waxing would not be uncalled for.

We arrived there on a VERY HOT day and walked into a small air conditioned souvenir shop. I had assumed that you pay an entrance fee and then you just walk around at your own convenience and see monkeys in their natural habitat - sort of like ou
r trip to Parrot Jungle Island

But, that does not seem to be the case. We must follow a guide through the entire Park and it will take about 1 and 1/2 hours and .... it will be in Hebrew.

Now, I can speak and understand Hebrew ....... to a degree. If you are talking directly to me about typical things, I am fine, but start talking about Monkeys with swollen butts and the human like socializing skills of Monkeys , all in Hebrew and I am lost. So my lovely FLUENT Hebrew understanding Hun offered to translate what the guide was saying. This was a lovely offer on Hun's part, but I knew what that really meant.

Guide: "Blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah .... yada yada. Blah blah, blah blah, blee blee, blah, yada .... Nachon!"

Hun: That Monkey's big! Right!

Me: "He spoke for a friggin' hour right now (BTW - I never swear to my husband), what else did he say?"

Hun: "I dunno."

So thankfully, there was a lovely lady and her children with us, who happened to be from Miami. Which is not the part that helps, because in Miami they speak English (and Espanol, of course). But, she happened to also be Israeli born, and more forthcoming with the translation than my lovely Hun.

We first passed what looked like a small log cabin sitting on an island, with no monkey in site, and the guide started rattling on in Hebrew. I could not wait to find out why she was talking for 20 minutes about a monkeyless cabin.

Apparently, this monkey was hiding IN the cabin, because her Monkey - Dad just died and she was sad. We Jews call this "Monkey Shiva". (Shiva is a 7 day period of mourning in the home that Jewish children observe when a parent dies).

So far, no monkeys... and now we get to some area where there is a climbing wall (that is 5 feet high) and some other climbing areas, and I think,
"wow, we gonna see monkeys do ro
ck climbing?"

And the Israeli tour guide walks off.

But then a different guide shows up, and he can speak in English ... yay! It was quite broken, but it would do.

Apparently, this area was a pit stop for children, not monkeys and the rock wall and climbing areas was kid friendly. There was also an omega, otherwise known as a zip line, but we had to wait 15 minutes for the key, to unlock it. (Uhh, if this is an hour and a half tour, will we ever see monkeys?)

So the kids played here for a while ...


Okay, so Ate needed a little help on the zip line.

Only after, we finished our monkey free playtime, did the guide inform us that another family has just arrived at the entrance and we should wait until they wind through the beginnings of the monkey park so they can join our tour.

Uhh, NO!

Only in Israel do Parks and Recreation have absolutely no organization in place and NO, we will not add on another 20 minutes to our tour so that other family can take their time to catch up to us.

With that, we continued on ... albeit, slowly enough so that other family actually did catch up to us.

As we came to another empty cage and heard a story about how a very special monkey was shipped in from France and placed into that cage...

Uh, where?

And he was given a mirror to keep him company...

Uh, don't see a monkey lookin' in a mirror!

And he loved the mirror, because he wa
s very social...

If he is so social, why is he hiding? Don't see a monkey.

So they got a female monkey from France to keep him company...

Niiiice, where she at?

And one day, the monkey's were gone. Someone stole the monkeys. We don't know why. But we keep the cage here and tell the story.

DO YOU ACTUALLY HAVE ANY MONKEYS IN "MONKE
Y PARK" OR IS IT ALL A PLOY FULL OF HIDDEN MOURNING APES AND STOLEN GORILLAS?

And so we moved on .....


....to some picnic tables
...

where we stopped for nursing and sh#%%y diaper changing arts and crafts.

WHERE ARE THE MONK
EYS???

The kids were given paper and crayons and
were also offered the opportunity to either color a picture of a dragon head or a monkey head.

It was only after the bodyless animal/fictional creature was colored that the "art director" moved on to the next step of the project. They fanned a piece of paper and then were given a monkey tail or dragon tail to match their head of choice and they colored that. They cut out the heads and tails and placed one part at either end of the fanned paper and attached a sharp stick (think it was actually a wooden skewer) under the head. So the final project looked like a monkey/dragon with a fan for a body on a wooden stick.

When the kids were not looking, I dumped the art work in the nearest garbage because who needs more crap in their house I would certainly want no one to poke an eye out with a wooden skewer.

AND FINALLY A MONKEY!

Only, the monkey was actually supposed to be caged, but was walking around free right near the picnic tables and then climbed a tree. At this point, I never laughed so hard as I did watching the "art director" walk up to the tree and call up,

(actually in English)
"Mon kee, Mon kee - com don Mon kee."

Right, maybe if you say, "PLEASE, come down Monkey..."

Even funnier,

the fact that the park was built with ten foot high monkey enclosure made of climbing friendly chain link, right next to a much higher tree on the outside of the enclosure.

Someone forgot to tell the Park's owner, that monkeys climb.

Maybe those two French monkey's weren't stolen after all. Maybe they got really snooty and said,

"Oui Oui - zes ez nut op to our standards Francois`e..."

And then they ran back to France.

Escaped Monkeys aside, we were then taken
into a monkey enclosure after we were given the following warnings directions.

1. Don't bring in food - monkeys like food and might attack you for it.

2. Don't make loud noises - monkeys get scared and might attack you for it

3. Don't make direct eye contact with the monkeys - monkeys will think that is a challenge and attack you for it.

"Question, can I bring my adorable little chimp - like, six week old baby in there?"

"BETACH (sure) Yes, of course."

4. Don't bring in small, monkey like objects - monkey may think it is another monkey and might attack you for it.

And with that, we we
nt in.


And then I took my loud noise making, small object out and took a picture of this dude sans eye contact, just before he leaped up and tried to gnaw a vein out of my neck.

We continued on past more monkeys and then we were informed we were going to a petting zoo. I was so excited, because I always wanted to pet a monkey. I mean, it IS a monkey park, so they must mean it is a monkey petting zoo, right?

NOT REALLY!

It was a petting zoo of...

....gerbils and ...



ferrets.

Petting ZOO? I could pet those at my local pet store, but So was excited.


We walked through another area of monkeys.
These monkeys were apparently more aggressive, so, in addition to the chain link fence, there was also electric shock wire just behind the chain link fence.

Only in Israel, can people walk up directly t
o chain link fences (with children ) that has openings way big enough for hands, that can reach the electric wire just behind, and there is not one warning or mention. It's a good thing "Miami" lady noticed her son reaching through, because the guide sure as hell didn't. He did tell us that these monkeys can bite your fingers off. So, I guess they were protecting fingers from being chewed off, as opposed to being burned off from electrocution.

Ehhh, the lesser of two evils, I guess.

One of the reasons we chose this particular outing, besides for the fact that I looooooooooooove monkeys, was due to the fact that it had some sort of water play area and water slide, and it was an ex
tremely hot day. But apparently the water play area was at the end of the 2 hour, 40 minutes hour and a half walking tour. Which was actually an incentive. We got hotter and hotter as we walked the monkey park, so I was envisioning this "water play" area. I was imagining some cool jumping water spouts that the kids and I could run through, as well as some sort of slide that led into a nice pool. I could not get there sooner.

Strike that!

What I should have imagined, a filthy inflatable slide with an attached 2 foot deep kiddie pool at the bottom filled with BLACK water. And I should have imagined a woman who looks very much like me standing at the bottom as her kids slide down, frantically yelling,

"KEEP YOUR MOUTH CLOSED, KEEP YOUR MOUTH CLOSED, DON'T DRINK THE WAT
ER."

(Hard to tell - but that water is as black as death)

Oh, but that's not all. For a short time only, if you are willing to wait another 20 extra minutes of your precious life for a bizarre bubble making contraption to finally begin working, you can experience the foam bath of your life. And for no extra money down, you can cry about how the toxic soap they use to make the bubbles is stinging your eyes. Yippee freakin do.


Waiting for this thing to...



...fill this thing...
waiting... waiting... waiting...




So they can experience this...


video


PRICELESS!




So is such a poser.


After playing in this toxic pool of G-d knows what pool of fun, we had to wash the crud off, so we could move on to our next adventure. That's right, our day was not done.




We did, however, say goodbye to Monkey trap Park. But not before eating some mass quantities of ices and magnum ice cream.

We then went, by taxi, to "Mini Israel".
In short, it was actually a really cool place that had amazing, to scale models of all the landmarks and cities of Israel. If only Monkey Park did not drain us of all we call "life", we would have had more patience (and time) to spend at Mini Israel.

I was amused when I saw an actual live lizard climbing the wall of "The Tomb of Our Pariarchas and Matriarchs" also known as "Mearas Hamachpelah".



Bcause of the model to lizard ratio, it almost seemed like "Godzilla" was attacking.

I especially liked the model of "The Kotel" (Wailing Wall). And if you go back a couple of posts, I left some pictures of the actual Kotel. So here is the Kotel in model form -



(Excuse the shadow).

Mini Israel was actually quite interesting. I would like to go back one day when I have more time (and more money and patience to travel with the whole family to Israel).

We were not far from the mall in Modiin, so we met some friends there for dinner. We dined at an outdoor cafe so our overtired, hyper surprisingly well behaved children were running around a courtyard. And this is when Ate's face met pavement. I had to mention this little tid bit becasue all pictures of him for the duration of the trip have captured a slightly more colorful, swollen face.

After dinner we hightailed it back to Jerusalem. Had to get the kiddies to sleep because tomorrow, we would be off to "Yam Hamelech" (The Dead Sea).

Oh, Monkeys, Gerbils, Ferrets and Lizards (my four kids), I'm pooped.