Israel in Israel!

With Israel on the beach

We were so excited to have our first house guest this week, our friend Israel from Ciudad Juarez. He and I worked together in American Citizens Services, and he’s one of my favorite local staff there.  He did a nine-month TDY working in the U.S Embassy in Iraq, and was on his way back to Mexico. He spent several days touring in Jerusalem, then came to spend the weekend with us.

Saturday, we walked up to the Tel Aviv Port, which is a revitalized area in town. We stopped for a drink and a snack, and enjoyed the beach walk. That night, we went back to Lalaland for dinner, and ate barefoot with our feet in sand.

Sunday, we drove about two and a half hours north of Tel Aviv to visit a couple of historical sites. It was an Embassy-organized trip. We saw the ruins of a synagogue from around 100 BC, then drove up a very rutted road to a mountaintop.  (I was very glad to be in the 4Runner, which just arrived this week!) From there, we could see Lebanon on one side, and the Golan Heights on the other.  Down far below, was the Hula Valley.

We made our way precariously back down the mountain to the valley. We went to a farm in the middle of an orchard (peaches?) and eucalyptus trees for a yummy family-style meal.  Afterwards, we went to a lake where we saw thousands of common cranes, who were on their way from Siberia to Africa.

The bird watching was so fun! The valley is very agricultural, and the birds are used to tractors…so tourists are put in camouflaged blinds that are pulled behind the tractors and into the fields. We went just before sunset, and watched the cranes fight with the migrating pelicans, then saw them darken the sky as the cranes made their way to the water to roost for the night. In the lake, we also saw spoonbills, which reminded us of the roseate spoonbills we saw in Costa Rica.

Click for more photos.

Israel came to work with us this morning, so he could meet his counterparts in the NIV and ACS sections. I was proud to “show him off”!

Last Sunday, John and I volunteered at the annual holiday bizaar. It was fun to see some of the local handicrafts. John played master of ceremonies to announce the raffle winners.

Our apartment is really coming together. The maintenance guys from the Embassy hung our artwork this week, and our last shipment of “stuff” arrived. We’ve managed to pretty much find places to store everything – we’re waiting on two more pieces of furniture (a buffet and a chest), then that should be it. We’re quite happy with the apartment.

John got to go with our manager and the manager of the political section to Jerusalem this week. He toured several parts of the city, and met diplomats from other missions – it was a great opportunity for him.

Oh, and Thanksgiving! We worked at home all day to get our newly arrived goods put away, then cleaned up and went to dinner at a friend’s house. They are a great couple, and really fun – there were a dozen or so folks there. Great turkey, and just a lot of fun. The nice thing was that it was with people who work in other sections of the Embassy (plus two Israeli nationals), so we got to visit with different folks.

So…it was a busy and fun week!

Cranes in flight

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