Lots of bus-riding today!
Our whole group hopped on a bus at 8:30, after breakfast at the hotel (while you guys were still fast asleep in the middle of the night). We drove to a small city 20 minutes away called Ma'alot, where we drove around, saw a slideshow about the city (in City Hall), and then dropped in to visit somebody's house so they could tell us about moving there.
Then, we did the same thing in a small town nearby called Kfar Vradim, where we are not considering moving, but it is a very lovely place. We had lunch there with our group, including a special salad called "Salat Chalumi" which has chunks of fried cheese on it. Amazing (though it's very salty, so you only need to eat a bit)!
Finally, we shlepped back to the city where we're staying, Nahariya, for a proper tour, because we didn't have a chance to look around when we came yesterday. This city is less green than Ma'alot and it feels a little strange right now because it's a resort city, which means that in the summertime, people come from all over Israel for vacations. There are hotels and ice cream shops and restaurants and coffee shops in the main area, which is pretty quiet right now. It must look very different when it's busy with people at all hours!
Still, they have a good drugstore - SuperFarm, which is the same as Shopper's Drug Mart, with Life Brand medicines and everything - where we walked when we finished our workshops tonight to buy cold medicine. I didn't know how to say "cold" or "medicine." (put up your hand if you guessed that after a week of being sneezed on, I caught a cold!).
Anyway, I said "mashehu l' nazelet," which means "something for a sniffle" (they keep everything stronger than vitamins locked up with a pharmacist, who interrogates you about your symptoms, in my case by pointing to various body parts) and he gave me Life Brand "paramol af" which means "nose paramol," and has "night" and "day" varieties in the same package. Now I took a "night" one and will soon drift off to the lovely sound of the crashing waves in the Yam HaTichon.
Compared to Toronto, which has more than 2 million people, everything feels like a small city. Ma'alot has 21,000 people; Kfar Vradim has only 6,000; in Nahariya, there are 52,000. No matter where we go, it'll probably take some getting used to until it feels normal being in a smaller place. Even Rechovot, the biggest place we've seen, has only 120,000! The nice thing is that the rest of Israel - many, many people, including any friends we have here - is only a couple of hours away, no matter where we end up.
The north is cooler and greener than the rest of the country, especially once you're a bit away from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. At this time of year, when everywhere is cool and green, it's hard to tell, but everybody says in July it makes a real difference.
Away from the Mediterranean (Yam HaTichon or Yam HaGadol) the terrain gets hillier and hillier until you are finally up in the mountainy place at the top called the Golan. Israel's highest mountain, Har Ha-Chermon, is up north, but closer to where the Z_____s live, Tzfat, than to us here. We'll be driving to Tzfat tomorrow, but probably won't get a chance to see them after all, because they have to keep our whole group together.
Okay, again, too long, but it is all because we are seeing so much and I am so excited to tell you all about it.
All of my love and Abba's too, of course,