The first two weeks by recently departed Kehillat Kernow member Joanne Gore
As I start to write I am taken back exactly one week and was at the airport with my parents, first in line at the emerging queue to check-in. Packing a 3-bedroom house into 3 suitcases was a challenge and I knew I was way over the 60 kg weight allowance allocated so had a strategy: Plan A – cry, Plan B – unpack! Turns out Plan A wasn’t needed and Plan B was only required as the 34 kg of one case exceeded the legal limit, so Plan B was put into place and a few items removed to get it to 32 kg.
Some may know that security to board a plane to Israel is tight and there are regular questions: “Did you pack your bags yourself?” (Yes) and “Did anyone give you anything to carry for them?” (No). To which the guy gestured towards the folks then said “Not even your parents?” (No, I’m being selfish and it’s all for me!). A quick tearful goodbye and I was off…
It had been drilled into me that upon arrival in Tel Aviv under no circumstances was I to go through passport control without being met for paperwork to be done. If nobody was waiting (highly likely) there was a phone at the side of the passport control area that I should use to ask for people to come get me. As I was walking along the last corridor I could see a man with a name placard and was hoping to see my name on it when it came into vision – hooray, I had been met! And then after being processed and going through passport control to get my bags and a taxi I had the loveliest of surprises, Tracy (cousin), Michael (cousin’s husband) and their middle daughter had come to the airport to meet me (with banners, in case you haven’t seen the picture).
People had been advising that everything is done really slowly and has to be done in a certain order. Take a book to read whilst you’re waiting… Well, fortunately I haven’t experienced that. Michael had organised people at the bank that I would be coming in (Tuesday) and with lots of congratulations and welcomes I opened a bank account. A week later I have a credit card, ATM PIN and chequebook!
Tuesday afternoon Tracy and I went into Tel Aviv to take some things to the apartment I’ve rented for the next few months, and to meet my flatmate (Annie). That afternoon we went for a walk along the beach and saw a beautiful sunset. We then walked via the Ulpan where I enrolled to learn Hebrew, the class starting 15-Dec was full so they put me on the next one starting 17-Jan, which was already half-full. On Wednesday Annie kindly accompanied me to the Ministry office where there was no queue and I was seen immediately, paperwork processed, and off for a leisurely lunch before catching the bus to visit Adina and her family in Ariel.
Thursday was busy too – back to the bank to pick up the credit card, this meant I could set up a mobile phone contract, which I did on our drive to spend the weekend in Eilat (downside I was phone-less until the drive home on Saturday night). Shopping in Eilat doesn’t have tax, with the holiday discounts I did well, unfortunately only on essentials, such as towels, linens, pillows, but I got a “Dream” card and now have 100 shekels to spend in January – woohoo!
Fantastic time in Eilat, shopping, walking in the canyon and descending down the washed-away ladder ie lots of crunching and jumping; also walked to and from the beach too. I got a welcome to my Israeli family and a very scrummy birthday cake too.
Then Sunday, Day 7, I took a 3 year-old girl for a walk to the shops to buy eggs, interesting as I don’t speak Hebrew and she doesn’t speak English – she was all smiles when asked if she had fun! Then I met Tracy’s middle daughter’s boyfriend who had come to pick her up before coming back for a big family dinner – they came back engaged (lucky I brought my party shoes and frock). And if that wasn’t enough celebrations Tracy & Michael and each of their children brought gifts to help me settle into life in Israel: a cactus and a potato peeler signifying that Israeli’s may be prickly on the outside but once you get under the skin they are good; a photo frame for pictures of me and new friends that I’m about to make; pepper spray because it’s legal here; a hot water bottle as that’s one of the items that was in the discarded 2kg; and a bottle of Carmel wine (owl series) to go in the bottle holder that was a birthday gift.
So, all in all, I don’t think I could have asked for a better start here in Israel. I have moved most of my things to Tel Aviv now and will stay in the apartment for the near future – I forgot to mention that Michael’s sister has a friend who works at the school and got me bumped up to the class starting tomorrow!