I’ll be honest. Despite constant writing, I’ve been a bit behind on publishing the actual posts for this lovechild blog of mine. While in Europe, the combination of constant motion (2,236 miles in 90 days) and a few weeks without the internet set me back in a way that made it very, very hard to catch up. There was just too much to tell.
With each retroactive post, I was chasing that proverbial carrot.
I was this poor, mildly pathetic horse.
|Photo Cred: Bits of Bliss|
It’s time to live in the present. I’ve been in Israel for over a MONTH now. Thirty-nine days, to be precise. If it surprises you, that’s because it is surprising. It surprises me. Thirty-nine days in the brown, brown desert, living Eilat ("ay-lat"), at the southern-most tip of the country, with Jordan and Egypt at a 15-minutes drive on either side.
Where am I?
But before we fast forward to now, I’ll tell you a little bit about how home came to be this small apartment (as in, the-size-of-your-rich-aunt’s-bathroom “small”) nestled within the buzzing, scorching hive that is Eilat.
After our airport campout in Tel Aviv and a four-hour bus ride in which the driver apparently thought he was steering a corvette, we arrived, drenched in sweat, to the Aqua-Sport beach, where John would be teaching scuba.
|Would you trust this guy? Really?|
I wouldn't. Just sayin.
Although John’s boss had arranged for us to stay in one of their dorm-style hostel rooms for a week, I was severely unsettled to find that there was no kitchen or refrigerator in which we could cook or store food.
Sure, you can throw me in the Middle East, in a barren land where 90% of the landscape is brown, in a town where aseptic off-white hotels tower over the landscape like a Las Vegas microcosm, where the writing seems to be no more than random symbols and what’s more, you have to read it from right to left…but please, just set me up with a kitchen—a refrigerator, even—and the chowgypsy lifestyle can continue as usual.
|And on your top left, we have the hotel riviera, or what I like to call Eilat's armpit. For scale, we are standing at the other end of Eilat, so this is the general width of the town.|
How is the chowgypsy supposed to save money on food if she can’t cook and/or hoard said food??
So during this time without a kitchen or appliances, but with a stubborn resolve to buy as little food from restaurants as possible, I realized that maaaaybe we’d been eating a "bit" gluttonously in Europe. Maybe gluttony is just what happens when you’re in France and people are feeding you free meals all the time and cheese is falling from the sky and nutella is smothering you in your waking life and your dreams. Maybe. I don’t know.
The hostel was close enough to an isolated convenience store that I could make a run for fresh foods as meal-time came around. Having a brother and sister-in-law who know that I am weird enough to treasure a travel spice kit turned out to be our saving grace. For those five days, our food intake got a whole lot simpler: fruit and granola in the morning, hummus with raw vegetables and crackers for lunch, and bulgur (which you can prepare simply by soaking in water) with vegetables or a cheap schawarma for dinner, with chocolate and/or yogurt for dessert.
The Cheap Israel Tourist Diet is not the most fulfilling diet in the world. Sometimes I wish I could stop caring so much about eating quality food; life would be so much easier if I could find pleasure in fast food. But that would be like me trying to stop wishing that I could (occasionally) turn myself into a unicorn—it just won’t happen.
|I need I need I want gimme gimme|
Please, come back to me Germany.
So why didn’t we just go to a big supermarket for prepared foods or something? Let’s remember that the chowgypsy is traveling on a budget; to get to town from the hostel was a twelve-dollar round trip drive, and when you’re travelingindefinitely, every saved dollar counts toward a new experience somewhere.
Oh, and this is Eilat—we ain’t in Kansas anymore. Prepared foods? A healthy grocer like Whole Foods? Dream on.
So, we managed. John went to work immediately and I enjoyed the beach. It’s not like we didn’t have a view...
|The Aqua Sport Beach looking toward Egypt Photo Cred: Auli.Nitty.Net|
|The view of "the armpit," looking toward Jordan... Photo cred: wikipedia|
At any rate, we had to find an apartment. Fast. Not having a kitchen, I've found, is akin to losing an appendage.
And so, before the week was even up, we did something rare....something kind of serious…which (for me) is uncommon. We completed a rite of passage, I guess. We found a flat and officially moved in together.
What does “rite of passage” even mean, really?
And that brings us to where I am now: typing, looking out at the moon over the lights of nearby Aquaba, sitting in the living room, bedroom, and kind-of-kitchen, all at once.
(I warned you it was small.)
But I’ll tell you, it feels good. It’s wholly our domain. And after three months of being together nearly 24-7 in other peoples’ domains, this is a welcome change, this chance to make something our own.
|Look out, Eilat...here we cooommmmeeee!|
John has had three full days off in the past 39 days. He leaves the house at 8am and doesn’t get back until about 7pm. I have, um, had every day off in the past 39 days.
Needless to say, my Eilat experience so far has been quite different from his.
But let's talk about that tomorrow.