Tuesday, August 23, 2011

near vana

When I woke up this morning, in a hotel bed in a foreign country, I almost forgot that I had no way of getting back to where all my stuff was. When that memory set in, I went to call the rental agent to find out what the deal was with my replacement car. He said there was no replacement car. He encouraged me to call any other car rental service and get a car from them and he assured me that I would not be charged. Let me point something out --- I found this out by calling him. He wasn't exactly falling over himself to let me know that I had no car. Customer service reps all over the world are hurting right now.

So, down to the front desk I go to try and get some contact info for other rental places because, you remember, I'm a tourist. I don't live there and don't know the local resources. The front desk woman got me a few different numbers and she worked out a system. She would dial and then hand me the phone so i could struggle with the language. She didn't speak on my behalf, or try to help set anything up. She handed ME the phone. 3 places had no cars. Finally, Avis said they had one. Smaller than what I had, and more expensive, but a car. So I asked where the Avis place is. Big mistake. The directions were the combination of every phrase I have learned is a trick.

"Right down the hill, then go right, everyone knows it, it is right next to a pharmacy only 5 minutes away, ask anyone." I'm a tourist -- maybe a map would be appropriate? Oh yeah, the maps are missing streets and no one actually knows where things are. So I took a walk. After a few false starts and semi true middles, I reached the Avis desk. A few tense minutes later, I was winding my way back through the streets to the hotel to pick everyone up, check out and get to the water.

We drove over to the Gai Beach water park and met with our Efrat friends. First, we parked on an empty side of a mountain and crossed the street to pay our money and get in. We snagged the last two umbrellas and got ready for the water. I took a quick dip in the overcrowded wave pool and figured I'd ride out the day in the shade. That worked well for a while...light chit chat and a bunch of people watching. Then it was pointed out to me that there was also the beach on the Galilee. I didn't realize that we had access to the beach from the water slide area. Much of the next few hours was spent on a perfect day, lazing in the water. It was as close to relaxing as I have been in a while. Truly spectacular weather, no big waves, the water was the right temp (and fresh water). I could imagine staying there for 8 hours for a number of days in a row. Who needs anything else. I assume the kids had fun on the water slides who who cares. I was happy.

They closed at 5 and kicked us out so we made plans to drive in a convoy up to Beit She'an for dinner (lunch had been snack foods which we packed and lots of water). So we drove up to the tiny "mall" in Beit She'an and went to the McDonald's there. The Chicken Selects were a bit peppery but very nice. My concern was that evening was approaching and I didn't relish the thought of driving my little rental car through the West Bank after dark. I did it anyway (with my friends leading the way). It was a bit scary, and we took streets through the city which got us a bit lost. But we made it back. Tomorrow I have to return the car, get back here and then walk to the light railway to head to Har Herzel.

I am still somewhat relaxed, my hair is frizzy and grayer and the last thing I ate was in a cardboard box. I started the day with no car, did some swimming, and now I am going to turn in. Any questions?

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