Friday, May 11, 2012

Holy lands - day 1

Israel. My first time, writing from a hotel lounge in Arad. Think, middle of the Dead Sea, go 1/4 way toward the Mediterranean Sea.

Waldemar, eight students, and myself left NU at 3:15 and flew out from Seattle at 6:15. Two vans. Two drivers in the middle of the night: Kristi Brodin and Sheila Josephson. Thanks, ladies! The flights were uneventful: Seattle to NY; NY to Tel Aviv. The students cruised the terminal on our 5 hour layover; W and I shared a fantastic quesadila and steak tips at Bonfire before heading for the Sky Club. On W's Platinum Flyer privileges, all the students upgraded to exit and bulkhead rows so we flew in relative comfort.

Boarding in NY was interesting. After a second, cursory security check where my tea was dumped, I refilled the Contigo in the cabin kitchen and settled back to watch people find their seats. One 20-something ran frantically up and down the rows trying to find an aisle or window occupant who would trade for her middle seat. She even shed a few tears, to no avail. Her performance wan't convincing, even to us. The cabin was in a flutter as relatives argued, frequent flyer friends howdied, and luggages was stowed, pulled down, and restowed a few times. Watching the spectacle amused us until we had to buckle in.

I'm not a good sleeper unless I'm drugged (wasn't this time). I moved my feet and legs, adjusted myself in the seat, and tried to make the 11 hour flight go faster. W and the fellow on the other side of me slept soundly for a few hours.

We landed in a sunny dry afternoon, waved quickly through immigration, and settled to wait for the group once W collected our luggage. The bus ride took 1 1/2 hours and the hotel is basic and clean. Supper? Couscous, rice, roasted baby potatoes, tomatoes, duck, beef tongue, chicken, roasted vegetables, salads galore, and bright sweet oranges.

Night has fallen, it's Shabbath, and we're about to start our 8pm orientation. We're 10 hours ahead of Pacific Coast time.

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