September 18, 2013

Shalom! Part I - Bienvenidos a Israel

Shalom from Israel! My wings have finally rested enough from the lengthy flight to start flapping at this keyboard again. My bird brain has also needed some time to wrap around the fact that I am working again full time, and I'm also in a middle eastern country. It's still sizzling a little, or maybe that's the heat stroke.
Israeli bird.

Some of you may be wondering, what is Israel like? Some of you may be wondering, what does a hen do in Israel? The rest of you may just be annoyed you've now read "Israel" four times. It's hard to decide where to start with all that's happening, so I'll just start and end with a Hen moment from the first few hours of my time on this soil. This way I can also share my happenings in multiple articles and drag it out into a book deal if I'm lucky.

The clash of cultures started with a bang when we arrived to our hotel. It would be enough of a scene with all the screaming, hugging, laughing, and luggage as we all trickled into the hotel after being apart for months. Add Rosh Hashanah to the mix, and it's a spectacle. Hundreds of traditional Jewish people in traditional, or at least modest, clothing came to the hotel for a formal dinner for their religious holiday. Put that in the lobby with boisterous, delirious, travel-ravaged, figure skaters, and we had oil and water. The local guests mostly just stared and grumbled among themselves in Hebrew, but the most brazen guest came as a snail-paced elderly woman, possibly born in biblical days. As I caught up with friends who'd just arrived, I saw this little gal slithering toward me with her cane, staring at me. I gave her a polite smile, as it was clear she was heading directly to me. Five minutes later, she'd finally made the 20 feet to my uncomfortable smile.

Similar to the lobby

"Is that English?" she asked, eyes still cold, stern, and unblinking.

"Pardon?" I asked, sure that I misheard her.

"Are you speaking English?"

"Yes." I said, with an awkward cackle and still frozen smile. She muttered something in Hebrew.

"Sure doesn't sound like it." She said as she raised her nose. I gritted my teeth, but I stayed smiling in some form.

"It is." I said with another awkward laugh.

"Must be the accent." She said with an accent. After a final stare into my soul, She hobbled away. My smile turned into just exposed teeth. I stayed frozen for another five minutes until she was out of earshot and I could speak freely in my accent.

Thankfully, the people could only get nicer after Little Miss Sunshine put in her two cents about my American accent. Not having a British accent does not make my English any worse than hers, since we both used full sentences and proper grammar. Every English-speaking country has its quirks and slang that don't make sense, but don't criticize how I sound - that's how I learned to speak and how people sound where I live. This old woman could use another lesson is "love thy neighbor" or "shut the fuck up."

There have been more ups and downs, cheese and falafels since then, so hen with me. My full time job is getting in the way of my articles again, but stay tuned for quips about twerking, floating, and more in the Middle East!

Keep reading on my adventures in Israel! Shalom! Part II - The Hunger Games
Read more! We went to another crazy place last year - check out Hens in Africa!

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