Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Car

It’s funny in life you know, the second you don’t have anything to do, all the stuff seems to happen. What am I talking about, the unexpected….fate….a series of events that occur and just throw you around like a crash test dummy. My name is Barrie Cowan……and this is the longest day in my life (for the benefit of you Jack Bauer fans!)

Events occur in real-time…

The phone rings, and in my daze of just waking up I see it is Yossi calling. I pick up the phone, speak but I don’t really know what is being said. The call ends.
14:00 is the time, still early on the scale of things. I soon realise what just happened is I have been invited to a BBQ at Yossi’s uncle’s house tonight to celebrate Yom Hatzmaut. I do all the menial tasks, showering, brushing my teeth, grabbing a bite to eat, and by 17:30 I am heading to the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem to meet with Yossi and his Mum. I get there, exchange the pleasantries and we get on our way to a place called Beitar Illit, which is about 25 mins outside of Jerusalem. Yossi is driving (his uncle’s car) and decides he knows how to get us there, truth be told I have never seen so many parts of Jerusalem, we got lost, and for an hour and a half we were trying to get out of the city. After eventually succeeding we get to Beitar Illit, and enjoy a BBQ.
That’s when it starts….

Once we had finished we were working out the rest of our night. The plan was, take Yossi’s mum back to the Hotel in Jerusalem, head to Lod to pick up stuff for Yossi’s mum to take back to England, then head back to Jerusalem to pick up more bits and pieces, head home and have a narg. Little did we know that narg was unimaginably far off in the future.

We had reached the Lod stage of our journey and we travelling back to Jerusalem when all of a sudden our conversation was stalled by Yossi’s sudden case of turrets. What had happened, we had taken the wrong lane, and ended up not going in the direction we wanted to, although not such a problem, all it meant was it would take us a little longer to get home, and back to the conversation it was. Funnily enough it seems we were never meant to finish that conversation, so much so I can’t even remember what it was about, but we found ourselves suddenly listening to the high pitched opera of the engine….it was a great show complete with smoke, smells, a real family day out at the theatre. To no surprise we pulled over, and popped the hood. Once the smoke had cleared we saw the engine, checked the oil, filled the water and thought, great, fixed, we will be on our way. Key in, turn key………..nothing. Again……..nothing. Oh dear (sigh).

We had managed, after taking a wrong turn to end up broken down in the middle of nowhere (next to the entrance of Makkabim Reut), with no idea what to do with this car. We needed a jump, it had to be the battery, but we were in the middle of nowhere how were we going to get a jump off someone – and just in case you think there is loads of traffic on this road, there isn’t it is now 00:30 at night. So as in the case of any emergency you ring a family member, in this case the owner of the car Yossi’s uncle, only one problem………no battery, and this time I mean the phone not the car. I then realised that a 10 min DRIVE down the road lived my madricha from last year, Shoshie. So of course at 01:30 at night I call her, as you do. In the midst of waking up she very kindly offers to come and meet us where we are and give us a jump, she arrives, we search her car, no jump leads. So we get in her car drive to a nearby garage (remember this) borrow some jump leads from the one person who is working in the garage and come back to the car (which Yossi had been waiting with), we put the jump leads on, and with fear of electrocuting ourselves try the engine…………nothing. As you can tell this isn’t our night. It isn’t the battery, so what is it? Well in trying the engine with the jump leads, the car started to smoke again, which was strange as we had put water in the car, and then we saw it…………..the fanbelt………ripped to shreds. It seems the fanbelt had snapped, that had been making the noise, and the rubber was burning as the wheel span creating the smoke. We needed to get towed. So Shoshie, our translator, starts calling round tow people, who apparently charge a lot more at night, that’s if they come, which none of them would as it was late…….then why be a 24 hour service I ask? No luck no-one will come.

02:35……Me and Yossi (Yossi and I) at this point took an executive decision to push the car to the nearest garage, which just so happened to be the one we went to go and borrow the jump leads, which at this point Shoshie went to return, it was a 5 min DRIVE away. We felt if we could leave the car there overnight it would be better than leaving it at the side of the road. So we did……the only problem was 5 min DRIVE away, turned out to be a 1 ½ hour push of the car, by the two of us, over a stretch of 2 miles….and the best part, yes you guessed it….uphill.
We arrived at the garage at 04:00, dead, tired, dirty. Whilst we had been pushing the car we thought it best Shoshie went home to get some rest, who at this point came back to pick us up and take us back to her house to ‘sleep’, as seen here….

Strangely we didn’t really sleep well that night, which you would think we would have after pushing a car. Now it was back to it.

07:00, we were up, dropped off at the garage once again, managed to get a tow to the nearest mechanic after waiting for an hour and a half, who told us we would have to wait at least 2 hours to get it looked at even, which after he did he told us it would cost 2000 shekels which we didn’t have, so Yossi’s uncle decided he was sending another tow company to bring it back to his mechanic in Beitar, but that tow could take anywhere between 2 and 6 hours to come, and my battery was dying on my phone, so Shoshie came to pick us up again, to take us back to her house, give us some food and swap phones with me so I had battery, but then we got a phone call saying we had to go back to the car to give Yossi’s mum the bag which we took from Lod the night before, so we went back to the mechanic, gave her the bag, as she stopped on her way to the airport, we about to go back to Shoshie’s, when we got the call from the tow company who told us they were coming, but still took another hour, the tow company then took us to Beitar, we dropped the car off with Yossi’s uncle, had a bite to eat, got a bus back to Jerusalem, and then we were in the tachana, where we decided it would be a nice idea to get Shoshie a little gift, for all the help she gave us through the night, so we found a clock in a shop in the tachana, which we wanted to get engraved, which was going to take another hour, but we said fine, so then thinking everything could go right, we went back after the hour to pick it up and they still hadn’t even started, so we had to wait another hour for the clock to be done, which once it was we went to Emek Refaim to drop it off with Shoshie where she works, swapped phones back then walked back to my house, had showers, sorted out the rooms, and finally, after all this SAT DOWN AND HAD OUR NARG!!!!

(I’ll just take a few moments to get my breathe back and compose myself………ok I am done.

As you can see every possible thing that could have gone wrong with us did, but the best part was we laughed through it all, because what else can you do in situations like these. C’est la vie.

Just a couple of points to clean up, and put time into perspective as I shortened this greatly for the sake of your sanity. We finally got back to Jerusalem at roughly 19:00, finally got back to my apartment at 21:30 and finally got our narg at 22:00, by the time we got to sleep we had both been going since 09:00 the previous day and had been up for 38 hours…..making it the longest day of my life and breaking my record of 36 hours, and what a couple of days we had had to celebrate it.

The clock that we bought for Shoshie had inscribed

“To give you back the time we took from you……..Yossi and Barrie

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The next day...

Well I left you last time, in the middle of my two day adventure. But what of the day after last? So this is how it went.

I woke up, my arm was numb, but that painful sort of numb. There was that cold air in the room, the type you can only get before about 7.30 in the morning, 'but I am on an adventure, you don't get up early on an adventure!' I thought to myself. It wasn't until a couple of seconds later I realised the reason I had woken up was because Jonny was sitting there calling my name. What time is it? 6.45 and my head hits the pillow once again. However the point is made that we could get up now, go with the guy we are staying at and actually start our day early and make use of it, this in recent times being a very new concept to me, but you know what it might actually be worth a try. So I get up and am ready in about 15 minutes. The guy we were staying at, Yoni, studies everyday in Acko and we decided it might be fun to start our day there, having a look around Acko and see what we can find. So after being forced to drink a tea and some wafers by Yoni's father (I don't usually eat that early in the morning, not always such a morning person), we get on our way and by 8am we are in Acko and have been dropped off at the local market. Now markets can usually be a good place to start a trip, looking at all the rubbish they have on sale, but this market only sold fruit, it was terrible! So we speak to this guy and ask him what there is to do in Acko, and he suggests we go to the old city and take a look there, we are given a lift and off we go.

8.15 in the morning and we are at the Acko port, next to the old city, taking a few pictures and having a look around. We bump into a guy who has just caught the biggest fish EVER!! and can't really resist the temptation to have a picture with him and his new found friend. Okay, it wasn't the biggest ever, but was pretty damn big! Take note....

So we then venture into the old city of Acko, anyone who knows Acko will know in many areas it is a prodominantly Arab area, and so here we are two Jewish lads walking around a very Arab area, but strangely enough having the strangest sense of security. It could have been because despite common stereotypes, everyone there just wanted to get on with their daily business and wasn't looking for trouble, or it could have been because of the rather large gun my friend had, either way it was kinda pleasant to be there, the sunlight just coming up and really appreciating our surroundings. Everyone always says when in Rome, do as the Romans we did.....

....we started our day, 08:30, in an Arab cafe, sitting having a narg and coffee with the locals. As we walked into the tavern we instantly became the focus, but that quickly was diverted back to the television which was blaring some form of Arab MTV. We sat for about an hour and a half with the locals, chatting talking about all sorts of rubbish, anything to try and make conversation and not get anyone suspicious seeing as though my friend had a gun and I was taking pictures of everything. Just incase you can't picture the scene of two Jewish lads from England sitting in an Arab it is....

From then on we proceded to walk around the markets, then moving to get pizza before travelling to Chaifa, on our way to Tel Aviv where we went to Yaffo, to look for more antiques. Finally back to home. The best part about the whole trip was that we had no plans, and you end up having a lot more fun when you just take everything as it comes. I'm hoping to do that more often before I go into the army.

From a place I shouldn't be.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

On the road....

I write to you from the small town of Nahariya, or a small moshav next to Nahariya. For those of you who's geography of Israel isn't up to scratch that is right at the top of Israel, any further and we would be in Lebanon. So how did I end up in this obscure place, which let's face it is just running a little higher culture and economy wise as Lod.

Well it began like this.....>>

Since I finished working for Vote Torah I have been at a bit of a loss. You see there was pesach which was good for filling in the time. I spent Seder in Herzaliya courtesy of the Kleimans, which was a lot of fun, very relaxed just what I needed after that non-stop month. I then moved on to see get a bit of a 'Free-buger and Fish' installment in Tel Aviv, staying in a rather nice hotel, which was a nice and welcome change (you see it is good to live humbly but we all like a bit of pampering every now and then, even the floor where I slept in this place was plush). Then it was back to Jerusalem for a few days where all the lads came to stay at me for a night. Then to Bayit Vegan for the second chag with some Israeli friends of mine. All in all a very relaxed Pesach, only seven days long, one seder (sorry to rub it in guys in England) and the best part was to see friends again. You see I find one of the toughest parts of being here the social aspect and so to have friends come over and visit me really means a lot to me.

Last weekend I was once again meant to return to the luxurious hotel, however I woke up Friday morning with food-poisining....and don't ask me what from, I think it was cheese, but no matter how many people ask me I am not going to have an autopsy to have it checked out!! It is really funny, you tell people you had food-posining and they hurridly ask you very worried questions, like they are worried about catching it themselves from the same food you ate, so they must rule out as many posibilities as possible.....get this people....YOU WON'T GET THE SAME FOOD POSINING AS ME!!

So after all this excitement I was back to being at a loss, I am going into the army in 2 months, a little less, and I have no idea what to do with myself. I don't want to get tied down to a full time job as I have a lot to sort out before I go in and so need the time. I wanted to travel around about but didn't really know where to go or have anyone to go I became a couch junky, watching films, playing playstation etc etc etc for hours on end. People told me I should read, and I said NO! for reading is just giving up!! (I realise I just offended a lot of people)

BEEP BEEP - phone goes I get a text, one of my friends wants to know if they can come and stay at my house tonight, for all those of you who know him Mr. Jonny Daniels came to stay (he also made Aliyah from England for those of you who don't know him. So he arrives at mine and after disposing of the pleasantries the conversation starts:

Jonny: Are you spontanious Barrie?
Barrie: Can be why?
Jonny: Tell me if you are coming with me tommorow.
Barrie: To where?
Jonny: Well that wouldn't be very spontanious would it! Tell me if you are coming.
Barrie: Ok, why not!

And so here I am at the top of the country at a friend of Jonny's we have travelled today, eaten a lot of food, done some walking round, visited an ethiopian absorption centre and just generally done things that we can as we have nothing else to do. It's a really great feeling to be able to fill my time. So advice, if you get bored where you are and having nothing to spontanious... get up and go. It continues tomorrow with us, who knows where it will take you!

For all of those of you who are now catching this through the BAUK website - Welcome! You can catch up with what's been going on with the previous installments if you so wish. This blog has purely been created for a bit of humour, to bide my time, and for anyone interested to know what it is like to come and make aliyah (however just from my perspective). Please don't take anything I write to seriously, and just enjoy. Feel free to continue to read this blog in the future if you so wish, and don't if you don't! All comments welcome!

From the middle of nowhere!