Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Starting to get settled, sorta

Here we are now a bit over three months in Israel. I have had some interesting experiences and I have had to greatly adjust my expectations on some things.

Things move at their own pace here, and you have to realize that in order to maintain your sanity. The best example is the fact that we have been trying to purchase a second vehicle from one of the other embassies here, who is selling some of their fleet. This has been going on for over a month because the guy who was working on it at the other embassy had to go on holiday for a week, Carl is busy with work and can't devote all his time to making this happen, and the car has to go in my name as we are only allowed one vehicle tax exemption per per person. We are buying this vehicle "passport to passport" as it is known here so it is going from one diplomat or diplomatic mission to another and we are exempt from taxes. Now this is great but we have to have the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel and it has to be cleared with Customs too! All of that takes a bit of time, and being as we are unfamiliar with the process we keep finding that there are one or two mere things that need to be signed by both parties. Hopefully this will happen by next week.

As we get closer to the "holidays" as we know them it becomes very evident that we are in a different part of the world where Christianity is not the majority. Christmas is just another day here, so much in fact that our doctor tried to book an appointment for Carl on Christmas Day. I am looking forward however to traveling to Nazareth next week to go to one of the Christmas Markets there. It will be my second visit to Nazareth. I have not been to anywhere else yet really as I don't have wheels yet. As soon as I have a car there will be many opportunities for day trips as everything is a short drive away. That will allow me to ramp up some photography again too.

I won't lie, it's been a struggle for me to adjust to Israel. The people are lovely, and once they find out we are newly arrived it is always "welcome to Israel!" Language has been a bigger issue than we were let to believe. We were told by many, including those who worked on Carl's relocation in Ottawa that "everyone there speaks English" and we have found that is not the case, but we are working on learning some Hebrew soon. My main course of action is to focus on the things that I enjoy, find things that I like here and explore those and let the other stuff that annoys just fall by the wayside. I can't put so much energy into things that get to me. We've also joined a gym so I am hoping the endorphins will kick in too.

I will endeavor to update this thing a bit more often as well.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

One month down, 35 more to go.

We've now been in Israel for one full month. In some ways it seems like longer, in others shorter. We're in the home that will be our SQ (Staff Quarters) that we will be in for the duration of our stay. It was rented just as we arrived so there are still a few things that require attention. As a result we've had workmen here a lot over the past couple of weeks. The dogs, especially Folsom are basically freaked out by the comings and goings. 

I'll be glad when our stuff arrives and we can combine it with the furniture provided by the Embassy and it will feel more like our place. Right now it's hollow and echoes like crazy and I have headaches from Folsom barking all the time. :/

Sunday, September 7, 2014

One week in....

So here we are, one week after arriving in Tel Aviv. So far things are good however it doesn't feel completely real yet as we are in temporary accommodations, probably for another week or so. The house has been identified and they are working on getting it ready for us. We've not seen the inside but we drove past it and it looks nice, I think we will be very happy there.

The dogs are doing a fairly good job of adjusting to living in a small apartment, even though it's temporary. Folsom, our lab though is not a city dog at all. He pretty much freaks out on walks from the sounds of the busses and other traffic to just the sheer number of people around him. I think he is relieved when he realizes we've entered the small gangway to the place we are staying. Sierra on the other hand wants to meet every dog and person she passes and smell all the smells. When we get to the house the neighborhood is laid out well for walking so I will continue the walks as the yard is not that big and the exercise is good for the pets.

We've also had a lot of opportunity to meet a lot of people this week. Another spouse from the Embassy who is the Community Coordinator was kind enough to take us out last Monday and drive us around both Tel Aviv and Herzliya where we will be living. We've also met up with several other people who happened to be in Tel Aviv at the same time we are such as Travis, Mark, Ami, Jonathan, and connections with Rugby brethren Lee and Mickey, and a few very nice locals as well. Carl tackled his first week of work and we both came down with colds (I got it first and gave it to Carl).

All in all it's been a very busy first week. Far busier than I could have imagined. After we get some laundry done today and maybe a bit of shopping we are just going to relax for the rest of Sunday.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Adventures in Israel

So, we made it. We're in Tel Aviv in a small 1 bedroom apartment with the dogs until our house is ready in the suburb of Herzliya. Carl and I have unpacked the items we need to, and the dogs are adjusting surprisingly well to a walk schedule as opposed to us just letting them out on the lawn which is what they've done their whole lives. 

This morning was comically problematic however. There is a gate that leads to the entry of the apartment building that's never been locked. Until this morning. At 6:00 I was awake as I had fallen asleep early so I thought I'd take the dogs out early as their last walk last night was a bit early. I got the dogs into the elevator (small, even smaller than some in Stockholm) got out the door and down the gangway aaaaand gate is locked. I tried the keys that we have but even though one fits the tumbler It won't turn. 

In frustration I return upstairs and wait to see by looking out the window when someone else might open the gate. At 7 am I phone the landlord to inform him and he's surprised as he said no one locks the gate. He says he will bring keys to it today. Finally about 8am I look outside and the gate is open so the dogs and I rush down and they do what they need to. I'm surprised at the resilience of the dogs to adapt, and think they are being marvelous. 

Last night we had an amazing dinner at La Shuk on Dizengoff, did some grocery shopping, and in general vegged out. We will do a bit more today, but not much. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What makes a home?

Today is packing day at our house. The movers have come to remove our footprint from the Staff Quarters (SQ) that we've occupied for the past 4 years. 

As little by little and room by room the 4 guys go about their tasks, turning a home back into a house. I remember the first day we arrived here and it was such a blank space. That's how it feels again. In many places SQ's come furnished and you bring your own 'stuff' to make it your own. It works, but when it's done and all your items are in boxes again, the house ceases to become a home. It's a sad day that is. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Yes, we're still going.

Our move to Tel Aviv is just 6 days away. By this time next week I will be waking up in Israel. I have been contacted publicly and privately by friends and relatives with their concerns and fears for our safety. As much as I appreciate that concern and on some level I understand it, please be aware that those statements make moving to another country, which is stressful in any circumstance that much harder.

This will not be a political post. As the spouse of a Canadian government employee I have no politics. What I will say though is Tel Aviv is still very safe. Life goes on, people go out to eat and party, people go to work, visit friends and are social, and life continues on. Tel Aviv was one of our choices that we submitted for consideration. This is not a posting arbitrarily thrust upon us by Carl's employer and being aware of the history of the region it would be disingenuous for us to say that we never could imagine this would happen. We both look forward to seeing what Tel Aviv, Israel and the region have in store for us and exploring where we can. The reality of my husbands career is that we may be posted to a tough place now and again. It goes with the job and everyone in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development knows that.

As for me, I have no idea what I will be doing there. Will I work? Im going to try but my first point of order is to establish our home there once we have our housing and our shipment arrives. After that is said and done I will see what's next for me. 

We both appreciate all the concern for our well being, but please support us instead of question us. Remember we will more than likely be swimming in the Medeteranian on Christmas Day and you won't be. It can't be that bad. ☺️

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Now it's getting real.

Yesterday I went to the Israeili embassy and picked up our passports with our new visas in them. Next Monday the movers arrive to pack up our house and ship belongings either to Tel Aviv or back home to storage in Ottawa. The final vet appointment for the dogs is booked in order to comply with the requirements for the veterinary certificate for entry into Israel. We are scheduled to leave Stockholm on Augudt 30. Moving is a "go."

This week is a week of making sure that the inventory is updated to reflect what goes where, organizing the items in the house as best we can into the 4 categories that items need to fit into, and throwing out still more stuff. The dogs can tell there is something happening though they're not sure what yet. At this point I'm as calm as I can be under the circumstances. There are a few things still unknown at our destination ( such as where we will be living ) but I have faith based upon correspondence yesterday that this will soon be remedied. 

Even though the move is stressful, any move is let's face it, I'm starting to get excited at the prospect of being somewhere new. I will miss Sweden and my friends here for sure, but there is just a bit of excitement at being somewhere again unknown to me.