how did I get to go to Israel for a two week vacation? well, my father was Israeli, and when he died, we buried him over there, on the kibbutz he grew up on. also when that happened, my mom sort of let it be known that she would eventually want to be buried in the spot next to him. having had some health issues of late, she decided it was time to make those plans legal and official, and as a cousin of ours invited us to her wedding this summer, it seemed the perfect time to make the trip, and get that done - before she might not be able to make the trip again. as it was, she couldn't go alone - she'd need help. could I go, she asked? as long as I could bring my teen, I was ready, willing, and able, so - bon voyage!
here's an excerpt from my travel journal, that I started on the airplane:
8/18 - What a trip so far, and we haven't even left the ground! Everything was good on my end, my insane planning and scheduling having paid off in a well-planned exit, getting us to Grandma's around 10:30pm, exhausted, where we went straight to bed. Up early, I started a load of laundry around 5:30 or 6am, and no one else got up until around 8. We puttered, and helped Grandma get ready, exiting to a Pouring rain-storm at noon-thirty. After a few stops, it was "our last American burgers" at the diner for lunch, then on our way! Still pouring, it was 40mph through flooded roadways all the way until we hit sunny skies in Jersey. Finally arriving at Terminal C at Newark, the party split up (against my better judgement) with Grandma heading to the bathroom, my teen standing on the curb outside with our bags, and me heading to find the 'long-term parking'. It worked out ok, though, and we managed to regroup without incident. Then the wheelchair didn't happen. Then tempers got short. Then we actually strolled casually towards the gate. I found a wheelchair, which was a godsend, because...our flight, scheduled to take off at 10:50pm was delayed - until 1:45am! That is where we are, now...sitting in our seats on the plane, watching the boarding circus parade by. So. Much. Fun. I think my teen is totally Not digging his first air travel experience, but I think he'll fall asleep once we take off, and it'll all be good.
8/19 - Aaaand, we're back in the airport. Have been. For hours. After sitting in the plane for...ever, we finally deplaned, and have been sitting in the terminal forever. It's 6:15am. On Sunday. We're SUPPOSED to be boarding at 7:15am...7:45am...some time before 8am. This is the worst bullshitty bullshit I've ever dealt with in an airport, or with a flight. Like, Seriously. I waited in line for an hour to get food vouchers for all three of us, and no one was hungry which was fortunate, because I couldn't manage to get any food with them. More Big Fun. I'm exhausted. I've been up too long, and done all the heavy lifting, so...yay. angry face. REALLY Fucking Angry face. *
8/21 - Oy...so what happened? They finally let us back into the gate area (after rechecking us and our carry-ons), and we waited in line quite some time to reboard the plane. Then we sat on the plane some more, waiting for one crew member or pilot or whatever, before finally FINALLY taking off around 9am or so. The flight wasn't awful, with a screamy kid behind me and an obnoxious teen next to me, and I even managed to catch a few winks here and there. It was...maybe 2am or so when we landed and deplaned, then had some more bullshit with some more lack-of-wheelchair nonsense, and THEN, there was the asshole cart driver who took my mom and my kid off to somewhere while I trudged along alone through the airport with too many bags, a walker, and a cane. I caught up with Grandma eventually, but she had sent my unseasoned traveller son off alone into the wilds of Ben Gurion airport to find me, which made me FURIOUS, and when he got back to us (just as I was storming off to find him) I angrily demanded of them both to NOT separate the party again under any circumstances with out my say-so. And so, we trudged angrily through the passport check, which I failed, and had to explain how my updated Israeli passport hadn't been mailed to me in time for this trip, and was probably sitting in my mailbox back home in America, in order to be granted a two-week stay, and told to go check in with immigration so that I'd be allowed to leave at the end of our trip (and I did have to promise to leave at the end of our trip). Now comes me at the baggage claim, with all three checked bags, and me dragging Grandma and Teen Wolf around with our 4 personal bags looking for immigration (she was nice, and was maybe the easiest person to deal with thus far), and now we're up & down & around trying to find the car rental place...further nightmare. Too long a wait, I complain, she sends me 'downstairs' to the other kiosk to 'save me some time', I FUCKING LOSE IT with not finding the place, someone at the info booth FINALLY manages to tell me where it is, and we head outside...glory! a whiff of Israeli air! we hike quite another ways to the booth (I had to leave poor struggling Grandma & the teen behind on a bench, promising to return with a car) where I am denied our pre-paid, reserved vehicle through some confusion about payment methods, drivers, language barriers, and exhaustion. After giving up and power-walking back to my small party, I yell at them to get up and get moving, as I plow on ahead, in full rage-monster mode, and get us a taxi into Tel Aviv, to the hotel we were SUPPOSED to check into about 12 hrs. before.
They let us in - extend our stay, even - and just as soon as we hit the room, I shower and put on clean clothes, Grandma does the same, and we head back down (with dirty, unchanged teen) for Israeli buffet breakfast. ...Deep...Sigh...then we (Grandma & I) leave the young man to nap (he's done in) while we stroll the few blocks towards the sea, and the car rental place, then drive back to the hotel where she toddles up to pack, grab the teen, check out (against my better judgement, but I had to sit idling in the double-parked car for a half an hour or more while she accomplished those tasks), and beat it out of the City with much stress & screaming (things were left behind)...