Thursday, January 14, 2010

Road Trip to Be'er Sheva and Hatzor

Yesterday, I woke up in Jerusalem.  After breakfast, I cabbed over to the Central Bus Station.  The CBS in Jerusalem is a three story building that is so closely modeled after a European train station that there is even a large clock on the outside.  Pam already described security.  Buses depart from.....the third floor!  Travelers line up at one of 17 gates (there may be more, but I could only account for 17), and everything is automatic from there.  At approximately 12 minutes prior to departure, passengers move from the gate through the door to the bus which is locked.  Three minutes later, the driver arrives, gets on the bus and closes the door.  He inspects the inside of the bus and dons his tie (blue and white, I thought it was a talit at first!).  One minute later (8 minutes prior to departure, he opens the door, and passengers get on.  Soldiers flash their ID's, rifles are stowed under the bus.  Luggage doors are activated by the driver INSIDE the bus (Catlin Gabel needs to get this installed!)  I told the driver I wanted to go to Masmiya and asked him to tell me where the stop was.  He said OK and reminded me to take my ticket.  There was no reason to take the ticket, but I did.  At 10:30 (departure time) on the nose, the bus pulled out!  Talk about punctual!!  We were quickly out of the city heading down.  Jerusalem is a high point, so every way out is down.  Passing villages, I was amazed by the vehicle traffic heading towards Jerusalem.  It was literally a solid mass of cars and trucks for about 20 minutes!  Villages became smaller and smaller.  The driver would pull over to a bus stop, but nobody got on or off.  Finally, after about 30 minutes, single passengers would get off.  Jay had sent me a great map, so I could track where we were.  I knew we were close to Masmiya, got ready to get off, and was waiting for the driver to tell me we were there.  My phone rang and Jay asked if I had missed the stop....I asked the driver if we were at the stop AFTER Masmiya.  He said "Ken," which meant I grabbed my bag and raced off the bus.  Jay arrived three minutes later, and said it was a good thing I had gotten off since the next stop was a long way down the road!  The whole area had a very rural feel about it.

After working for a couple of house at Akhava College, we left for Be'er Sheva.  Talk about straight roads!  And, if the Florida orange crop is damaged this year due to the cold, we will all be eating Israeli oranges.  They are growing a lot of them....lemons, too!  arriving in Be'er Sheva, we stopped at "the best falafal stand in the city."  Jay had asked students to create a Google Map showing their favorite falafal places, and this was the winner!  Falafal was very tasty! 

According to many, the Be'er Sheva campus resemble the University of Chicago....I didn't think so, but it did resemble a lot of high schools built in the 70's.  Concrete building, courtyards, open stairs, etc.  The plaques were often ONLY in English, a testament to American support in the construction of the campus.  The quad area was gorgeous with an artifical stream running through it.  Boys were flirting with girls, and a traveling marketplace had set up shop.

After Jay's class, we headed to Kibbutz Hatzor, stopping to pick up his oldest son and a friend.  Hatzor is home to about 600 people, housing is in duplexes.  After a delicious cheese omlette, fresh vegetable dinner, Jay's daughter, Jay, and I played Set.  The Hebrew word one says when one finds a set is "Set."  Jay and I managed to collect 8 sets....Hila, a precocious 12-year old, collected the other 15.  Sigh.  After Jay and I had eaten, his two sons foraged for food.  Both teenagers, they grazed the refrigerator.  Finally, Tzipi, Jay's wife arrived home.  We figured out sleeping logistics for me, they figured out water logistics (showers before washing the dishes, downstairs shower before upstairs shower), and then it was off to a good night's sleep after a very long day.

Breakfast today was 6:45-6:53, then it was off to Tel Aviv.  90 minutes later, we arrived.  Everything about horrific Tel Aviv traffic is true.  I'll leave it at that.  Normally, Jay commutes 10 minutes to work....enjoy the pictures...falafal stand, Be'er Sheva University, Jay's house.  The plant pictures are of a plant at Hatzor.  No, Jay and Tzipi are not green thumb types, but the neighbor is .  If anybody recognizes the plant, please let me know what it is.

I'll post the return bus trip later today or tomorrow.


  1. Be'er Sheva to Tel Aviv in 1 1/2 hours? Wow, it is a small country!

  2. Interesting day. I think the plant is called Palmis Tarantularis:-)

  3. Pam you're so funny! I think a fear of that type of plant is referred to as "aracnopalmisophobia".