The Road to Israel as it Unfolds – Part 3 “The Journey Continues”

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The view from our hotel

So I decided to continue this series because I do have friends and family, especially a father-in-law who are very interested in our trip.

After getting Cindy’s passport Monday afternoon, I felt so relieved, and felt like I could sleep for days. After a little rest and shopping, we ordered pizza and headed to the Fort Worth Water Garden. People were a little curious at these Mennonites eating pizza and drinking Coke at the edge of the fountains. It was dark by this time, and the park wasn’t too full.

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The water cascaded down several stone slabs into a lit-up squarish shaped pond at the bottom. Later we walked around and discovered there were more ponds. It was a beautiful night. We headed back to the hotel, tired and happy.

Even with 8 hrs of slumber, the night was too short to gain back my lost sleep the previous nights, and I had a dull headache to prove it, but it was enough.

Tuesday – After breakfast and a quick trip to Wal-Mart we got on the shuttle and off we went to the airport. After a good lunch at TGI Friday’s we boarded the plane and got settled. I sat between Isaac and a fella with a deep southern drawl. He was nice enough Texan “fer sure”- but one thing I couldn’t “get” was how he could sit still so long! He got up only once in the middle of the flight and once at the very end… so Isaac and I felt kind of stuck. He pulled down his cap and slept (Or he pretended to maybe) he inched over to my side a bit during that time, so I sat squished up against Isaac. He didn’t look at a magazine or even a movie which probably was a blessing considering some of the stuff people were watching. Other than the fact that we actually got fed supper, it was pretty boring and uneventful.

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We had boarded around 4 but before long the sun was going down. And coming up. It was a 9 hour flight, as we flew and flew and flew I pondered “Why in the world anyone would want to be a world traveler if they had to endure that kind of torture?!?”

With time change and such it put us at landing in Madrid, Spain at 9:00 am. It was interesting seeing all the red tiled houses from the top and the shapes of the fields. We went through security and after a while the hallway we walked through to the terminal emptied into what I call a “mall” of sorts, kind of like Dillard’s, Lots of perfume and chocolate for sale and many salespeople standing around to help. We had to walk through this Deluxe Gift Shop to get to the gates kind of like museums plan it. Great sales pitch.

In search for a private lounge, we wandered around for awhile til Daniel the “Superman” of our group found it and got us registered. Again a bonus of his credit card perks. The beauty of this lounge were the large comfortable seats (big enough to sleep in) and the privacy. We rested and took in the sights around us. And before long we were off to our connecting flight.

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We were glad to have gone early to our gate because we had to go through security questions again. On top of that, they were very suspect of the laptops they found in our luggage and the gifts we had brought along. After some questioning, they took me downstairs to identify the gifts and the laptops and the luggage that was ours. They seemed satisfied with the answers they got through cross-questioning us against Daniel and Sarah, and again I was relaxed and glad because we had nothing to hide. As Christians, wecan have the wonderful witness of living in truth and honesty.

We boarded for our “short” 5 hour flight. This time we were sitting next to the aisle and that helped. It was a bit more eventful being there was an Israeli family in from of us with small children. Though active, they were not too loud. The one little boy, near the middle of the flight, stuck his face between the seats and chattered at me in Hebrew, expecting an answer but I just smiled at him.

The second flight was very different from the first. The first was an American Airlines flight, quiet and reserved and the second an El Al flight, much more lively. Cindy exclaimed that it was almost like an interstate was going down the aisle. The stewardess’s (one who looked like Anne Frank) were also more “I’m in your space and that’s normal mode” and the people were too. It reminds me more of how some Russian Mennonites are at meal times, -just reach over, (never mind that I just about hit your nose) just wait, I’ll move yet, and just catch me if I land in your lap – Not because they are trying to be mean or fight for anything, it’s just the way it’s done. We just smiled. Felt kind of homey. The people were very beautiful, I commented on it and Cindy agreed and said she noticed that one young mother was wearing a wig, probably for religious reasons. Aah, I wondered why her hair looked so good.

But the food. Wow. That’s where we noticed the biggest change from the first flight. They both served chicken & rice or pasta. The first American flight was hardly edible, but the El Al flight food was hot and very delicious. Pasta with Sauce, Mediterranean Salad, hummus, pita bread, cookies and a handy wet wipe for your hands. (I believe that part of the religious cleansing process because it’s always included) The plastic disposable cup had a handle with a plastic water pouch that you took out when you wanted drink coffee. All the cups they use are small. No Texas sized anything here.

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My favorite part of the flight was landing. Not just because I wasn’t feeling very good (and soooo very ready to get out of my seat) but also because as we flew into the country you could just see how different it looked with all its white squared-up buildings. The people looked expectantly out the windows. The children chattered excitedly. As we touched down I whispered a soft “Shalom” to myself and then the plane erupted into applause.

We had landed in Israel.

We had to go through customs which took about an hour. And after exchanging some money, a man approached us to give us ride to Jerusalem with his van. I think at this point we were exhausted enough to agree to anything, but his rates matched what we had researched so we felt blessed indeed.

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It was quite the ride over. This man liked to text and drive, using the lanes as needed even when he wasn’t on the phone. Honking, lots of honking, and it was not for being angry at someone, but rather to let them know you are there. Strangely enough, I felt safe, because it reminded me of Mexico. He was a friendly Jewish man and even made phone calls for us and he talked a bit about different things we passed and commented that we had a beautiful family. After an hour we pulled up to our place, never mind how we got there (u-turns can happen anywhere) He unloaded our van and handed us a card and off he went.

It was pretty neat on our street, we were in a very sweet little residential area, but it was dark. Daniel tried different doors and soon we had found our place.

It reminded me of Mexico. Tiled floors, nothing fancy, the building was kind of old. Airbnb had done well to hide anything unfavorable but I kind of expected things to be not as good as the pictures. Over all, we decided we were ok with it, tiny ants included. We wanted the experience, and for that, this was perfect.

We looked around a bit more, and decided that food was in order. Daniel with his trusty phone took us off in search of it. He found us a quaint little place and it… did not disappoint.

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I really don’t need to explain, it was just good. And expensive. But we’ve expected that.

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We sat outside, and soaked it all in. Across the street was a boys home, at first, they could be seen peering through the windows. It made me wonder what their life was like.

We walked back. Enjoying the sounds of the night in the streets of Jerusalem. And went to sleep.

Blessed sleep. -Susie

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