Saturday, January 31, 2009
Dear friends and family,
We leave tomorrow for Jerusalem, having had the most extraordinary week in Haifa. We have been welcomed with open arms and treated like royalty. Edgar and Deborah Nof, Ammi and Anat Perelman, and Yuri, the Or Hadash president, have been extraordinarily kind and generous, entertaining us and taking us to places that are totally off the beaten path. We've been to a winery where they make wines from everything from carrots to passion fruit, walked along the beach in Haifa with Edgar several times, eaten the best felafel in Haifa, enjoyed fabulous dinners and had the most remarkable experiences. Today was the first day it has rained in a long time; there is a drought and rain is badly needed. Ammi drove Julie Vanek, Roy and me to some beautiful places outside of Haifa. The highlight was a "Spice Ranch," a kibbutz that grows spices. One could spend the entire day there eating! In addition to a tremendous variety of spices, they have freshly made granola, halvah, soups, salad toppings, rice flavorings. Needless to say, we stocked up for our move to Jerusalem.
We finally did a little singing. We performed a little at the end of Shabbat services, also sang tonight after Havdallah. This is a marvelous, tight-knit Jewish community and we will miss being here.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Dear family and friends,
We flew home from Buenos Aires yesterday and have a few days to get ready for Israel. Highlights of our six days in Buenos Aires were a comfortable bed, hot shower, food that was not ham and cheese, and Shabbat services at the Libertad Synagogue. We walked for miles, checking out the ice cream and the charming neighborhoods of the city that is one of the ten largest in the world. Summer in Buenos Aires is hot and humid, something that felt oppressive when we were touring but we appreciate a lot since returning to frigid Boston.
In contrast to the simple life of Patagonia, here we enjoyed steak dinners with Argentinian wine, tried all kinds of ice cream, and attended a Tango show that was quite a spectacle.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Dear friends and family,
We arrived in Buenos Aires last night after a full day of travel from El Chalten, a small town at the foot of the Fitz Roy mountain to El Calafate, the tourist town that is the entrance point to Patagonia. Our time there was filled with the most extraordinary experiences and sites. Our group consisted of 11 people, mostly Australian, one Jewish boy from Toronto, and the three of us. We survived five nights of camping--one night was so cold and windy that we put Jessica in the middle of a two person tent. We trekked up and down some of the most magnificent mountains, walked through a valley in Los Torres National Park where the winds were so powerful that we could barely stand up. We really enjoyed our fellow travelers and are convinced that Australians are the most fit, adventurous people we've ever met.
We've survived twelve days of ham and cheese sandwiches, don't need to eat another one for a lifetime. Food was not a strong point of this trekking company, reinforced by our meal of 'juicy meat' for one of our dinners. The actually animal remains unknown.
We hiked for eight to ten hours a day for several days. A few hikes had to be rerouted because of bad weather. Our guide in Los Torres National Park told us that the catamaran that takes hikers from one area of the park to another was canceled for the first time in seven years because of the high winds. He estimated gusts as strong as 160 km per hour. We've never felt anything quite like it.
A couple of laughs to add in:
One evening Roy was asking for a box (una caja) at the reception of the hostel and the woman thought he was saying caca and handed him some toilet paper...
...and you thought he couldn't top that...
Yesterday he was changing money at the bank and said to the clerk that he needed to find his glasses because he has "huevos viejos." For anyone who needs translations, he told this young woman that he has old balls, when he really meant to say "ojos viejos" - old eyes.
We've become dehydrated after tears of laughter...
So we're going to try and attach a couple pictures (our top 20, so far). Enjoy!