Suck and Blow – Tel Aviv, Israel

My last few days in London were spent relaxing in Chelsea at Adams` house, reminiscing about the first taste of the fine white powder as you fly down the slope. I am not a hard core skier but poor Adam misses this the most about Canada. I headed to Andover to see Sonya and Andy one last time before heading back to good ol` Heathrow.

I boarded a night flight and ended up sitting next to a really funny and cool rabbi who patiently answered all my questions about Jewish culture. The flight was shorter than I thought but I still didn`t get any sleep. So when I arrived into Tel Aviv, being a little disheveled and edgy mixed with not providing the customs officer with any clear straightforward answers, I landed myself into interrogation. I stood around for a while when my rabbi friend came over to see what was going on and making sure I was ok. He said a few words to the officials (something about “You`re going to make her never want to come back here again!”) and moments later I was released with a grumbled apology.

I ambled out of the baggage area and was greeted warmly by my friend Efrat who I met in Barcelona. As we left the airport, I was happy to see palm trees and feel the warm air caressing my bare shoulders, even at such an early hour. We caught up while we drove to her suburb watching the sun creep up over the horizon. The streets were quite empty and I was surprised by how peaceful everything seemed. Nothing like how it is portrayed on the news.

I met her family and we took a quick trip to the store dropping her sis off at work before I crashed out for some much needed sleep. When I woke, we ate lunch and practiced my very limited Hebrew vocab.

That night, Noam, F and I went to a local bar where we sat outside on couches and big pillows around candlelit low tables set on a straw scattered dirtground. I looked up and noticed that there were really no clouds to obstruct my view of the stars when the waiter guy popped his head into my circle of vision chattering off something in Hebrew at a speed of a mile a minute.

“Um. Shalom?” I offered sheepishly with confused look.

He smiled and reverted to English for my benefit although somewhere along the lines,the three of them started back into Hebrew again. I wasn`t sure what we were ordering but sighed a breath of relief that I had translators as the entire menu was foreign to me. Not only is this language read right to left on the page but the menu is read back to front.

I drank something called a Flaming Lamborgini which consisted of some kind of strong alcohol which is lit on fire while our man pours two shots of some other kinds of liquor while I slurp it up through a straw. Faster faster, he coached me as my eyes bulged out and I realized that I was the unsuspecting foreigner roped into entertainment for everyone in the vicinity. Ok, next time I won`t say “Oh it doesn`t matter, just surprise me!” Point taken.

We nibbled on finger foods which were like samosas, fries and deep fried rolls filled with meats and potatoes dipped in hummus. Then all of a sudden the biggest pipe I have ever seen gets plopped in the center of the table and I am told to suck. Ya right, I am not falling for that one again. Noam chuckled as he demonstrated the proper way to smoke a nargila. This is a big 3 foot tall glass bong looking thing with a long rubber hose connected to a metal nozzle.

It`s nothing illegal and apparently its quite the social thing to do at the bar when enjoying a night out with friends. I took a turn and tasted the very delicate vanilla mango mixture waft over my tastebuds. It was a very mild flavored tobacco which didn`t make me feel strange or anything but seemed more like an after-dinner-mint thing to do.

Anyway, the whole experience seemed very fitting as I could definitely picture all of the Israelis I have met over the past year laying around doing this sort of thing on a Friday night.

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