A Year in Tel Aviv

Cat sleeping on wooden camel in Nazareth

So it’s been exactly a year this week that we arrived in Tel Aviv – it’s gone by so quickly. It’s been a good, busy year.

Yesterday we went on a day trip to Nazareth with Tom, Eden and Emily. It’s a bustling Arab town, where the shop mannequins are dressed in long flowing robes with matching head scarves, with tourist shops surrounding the main sites. There’s also a market, mostly full of things you would buy at a dollar store in the U.S., plus religious items, clothes and fruits and vegetables.

We visited several churches there, including the Basilica of the Annunciation, where Gabriel is said to have visited Mary, and St. Joseph’s Church. In both places, the modern churches were built over old sites and there are places within the churches where you can see excavations of the old, with mosaics, paintings, stairs leading to the crypt (shiver), etc.

We had lunch at a great restaurant, Al-Rida where we ordered lots of different dishes and ate family style while through the open window by our table, we listened to the calls to prayer and church bells ringing. The food was excellent – they used a lot of sauces and spices to kick the typical Arab food up a notch. Eggplant stuffed with cheese and smothered in creamy pesto; fried cheese with onions and peppers; lamb kabobs; tabbouleh; mushrooms stuffed with cheese, almonds and sweet potato and covered in a sauce that tasted like Marsala wine; local sausages; salad with pistachios and oranges; meat-stuffed kubbehs. Add a bottle of wine and we had a feast!

Click for more photos from Nazareth.

We were also celebrating yesterday, because John and I both found out that we got promoted! The promotions come out in one big list, and you don’t know exactly when it will be published. It’s one of those things you try not to think about but then can’t get it out of your head. It doesn’t change our present jobs, it’s just another step up the ladder.

When we got back to Tel Aviv in early evening, we went upstairs to Howie and Petit’s for a small party – it was a nice night to sit out on their balcony and talk. Howard and his two co-workers also got promoted, so it was celebrating all around!

Last Monday night, we attended a reception at the DCM’s house to welcome our new Consul General. It was a fun night, and I met a lot of our wardens from across the country.

John had a big day on Monday – he got to escort the wife of a VIP from the military as she visited various USAID projects. We watch the Armed Forces Network at home, and the military big-wigs and their wives do a lot of public service announcements. This woman and her VIP husband are always on TV, cooking healthy foods, exercising, etc. in their PSAs and we always get a kick out of them. So when they needed a volunteer to escort the ladies, John’s hand shot up!

It was a short week for us since it is the Jewish New Year. The local staff left early on Wednesday, and we were all off on Thursday and Friday. We just relaxed and read. We also watched “Inside Job” about the financial crisis, and caught a couple of older movies on TV.

Sculpture in the garden, Nazareth

One green eye, one blue eye, Nazareth

John and Mrs. VIP

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