Thursday, March 13, 2008

Finally in Israel

We've been in Israel for about 3 weeks now. There's been quite an adjustment period, and I've decided to give myself another few weeks to get used to things here.

Our house is beautiful, just outside of Jerusalem right off Road 1 in Ramat Motza. It is a three level with balconies overlooking the valley between Mevasseret Zion and Motza Illit, but high enough that the highway traffic noise doesn't bother.

So far, I've managed to find several grocery stores, a bookstore, some pharmacies, the market in Jerusalem (great fruits, veggies), a deli that sells pork products from a hidden cabinet under the register, coffee shops, and lots of other amenities. The language barrier is a challenge, but most people at least have a smattering of English, so I've not had too much trouble. Haven't been keeping up with the Hebrew lessons, because our internet has been a real challenge. Until today, the transfer speed has varied between .1 (yes - .1) and 10 kbps, and tended to just go offline right in the middle of my bill paying etc. It seems up to speed today for the first time, and hasn't just dropped the connection for almost 4 hours. Nigel predicts that it will be fine until just after Shabbat starts.

The kids have been enjoying their new school, though The Starving Child has had some virus and hasn't been to school for the past three days (yesterday they were all home because of parent/teacher conferences). He seems over it now, but they have swimming on Thursdays and I didn't want him overdoing it. The homework is much more intense than in the US, with tons of writing. I don't know if it's just the US school systems or if my kids are just slow, but where they were just learning about what a complete sentence is in Oregon, they are now expected to already know all about it and to write several of them in their homework each day. It is difficult for me, because all three need constant supervision while completing their work, but I am only one person. It has tended to take 2 to 3 hours daily to get all their work completed.

Nigel's work has been interesting as well. We have to drop him at his shuttle stop by 6:50am, then we generally drive on into Jerusalem and I let the kids play at one of two parks we drive by on the way to school until it is time for drop off. Nigel tries to get on the 17:00 shuttle for home, which puts him here at a bit after 18:00. One of his co-workers, IF he makes the shuttle, brings him home, or if not, we have to go pick him up. This puts supper between 18:00 and 19:00, leaving only a half hour for baths and bed for the kids. Plus, I have to have supper made and keeping warm while we pick him up or while he is on his way. This is hard for him, since he's always been a fan of hot, fresh suppers. The kids are not used to having to wait so late for supper, either, so they are always starving and begging for snacks between the time we get home from school and suppertime.

I've noticed that since we are now in a place where food is much more expensive than in the States, the kids are eating us out of house and home. Back in Oregon, they were never hungry and didn't want to eat anything - but food was cheap there, so I guess it figures.

I have been saving some money in that the tap water here is really quite tasty and I haven't had to buy any bottled water like we had to in OR because of the nasty tasting/smelling well water we had there.

We had to wait forever for a dryer to be delivered. The one that was already here had been put together wrong and would not run. Our landlady promised us a new one every day for two weeks, and it did finally arrive. I have to say that it ROCKS. Many of the other ex-pats have complained that their dryers take forever and don't get the clothes dry, but ours certainly does. It actually takes less time for the clothes to dry than it takes them to wash in our miniature washing machine, which takes 2 hours to complete a load. Prior to receiving the new dryer, we were having to dry everything by putting it outside (we had to purchase a clothes line and pins) or, since it has rained off and on since we got here, hang them all over the house to dry. Not a pretty sight, and took forever. Now it is quick and efficient.

There are some plumbing problems. When we drain the bathtub after the kids' baths, it drains into the extra bedroom's bathroom. Plus, our landlady has told us not to put toilet paper in the toilets! This is unacceptable and we have to let her know to get a plumber out here asap the next time we see her. We are up so high, I would think that gravity alone would make sure the pipes are all clear and running downhill. If they clog that easily, they should be fixed. I do not want to live where I have to smell used toilet paper every time I use the bathroom, plus it is very difficult for the kids to remember not to flush the paper. They've been flushing it for 4 years and their brains have all they can hold with all the complete sentences they are having to write!

This is a beautiful country. We have hiked around our area and will be trying to do more touristy stuff as time goes by. Most of the people are very friendly.

More details to come....

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