Friday, April 29, 2011

Sail to Cyprus

Well, it's been almost 8 months since our last sail, so we started out with a bang. We set sail Tuesday around 6:00 pm and made our way towards Cyprus. We had checked weather online all day Tuesday, making sure we were in for NO surprises, but that's kind of what the Mediterranean is known for, surprises! So as we headed into what was supposed to be only a local coastal breeze, we were still fighting to make our way North at around midnight! The wind was coming from the north and try as we might we couldn't get our nose into it The waves were around 2.5 meters which is enough to splash over our front decks and the hatches were closed but not latched which meant water in beds and floors. BIG :(   Half of the group got sick and Miles was NOT enjoying his first sail so far....poor Rachel was staying down with him and they slept something like 18 out of the first 24 hours.

Levi and I took turns all night with 2-3 hour watches and around 3am, a line holding our dinghy suspended out of the water, broke and half of the dinghy was dragging in the water. As soon as I saw it I yelled for Levi who was asleep in the cabin and he ran out and we wrestled it back out of the water, (with life-jackets on, mom) and got it tied back up. Not without loss, as 3 out of our 4 oars dumped out in the process! 

By sunrise, the weather had calmed down and we were back on course heading north, and as the day went, wind gently picked up from the East and we

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Leaving Israel :(

Yesterday we left Israel. We had originally intended to go and stay long enough to have Miles and wait for his passport and head back out, but God had other plans! 

We were able to spend a total of one year in Israel, and met so many amazing people and see some incredible sights throughout our time there! Certainly a LOT of stories that we would love to tell you all about when we see you next. It was very mixed feelings that we left, sad to go, but excited to sail through the season ahead, knowing it's going to be an fantastic year. 

Some of our friends met in a park the day before we left and we had a bar-b-que. Thanks for hanging out with us: Viivi, Blackhams, Yoha, Rob, Yosi, Nathan, Deborah, Abbey, & Rasmus. Also, miss you guys: Lena Sergei, Luda and Asha!

We even had a family we'd met, the Blackhams, come to see us off at the marina as we literally sailed into the sunset! All that was missing was a champagne bottle broken on the stern as we left! There were however, a lot of tears and hugs, and we know we have made lifelong friendships and can't wait until we see each other again. We miss you guys already! 

Certainly the biggest negative to this kind of lifestyle is the saying goodbyes! 

Thanks Israel for getting under our skin and into our hearts! We'll miss you and you never know............!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A clean bottom (not Miles)

Well, actually it's not about changing diapers, but cleaning and painting the bottom of the boat. And after the last few weeks, I'll take a dirty diaper any day! It's a process that needs to be done every one to two years and we hadn't done it since we launched the boat in July 2009, so it was more than due. Levi and I and Josh (Maggie's boyfriend) came down to the boat and camped out on it while we worked.

The process involves lifting the boat out of the water with a huge crane, and pressure washing the bottom. We found a virtual 'Red Lobster' underneath with crabs, mussels, barnacles, clams, and even found a few shrimp! It took a few hours of scraping all the debris off and letting the boat dry out a bit. The next few days Levi and Josh and I were busy sanding the boat prepping it for new 'anti-fouling' paint. It's a layer of paint that's supposed to take the buildup of barnacles instead of them attaching directly to the Epoxy paint or worse, the fiberglass.

Once it was ready for new paint, we had a team of our friends that wanted to help paint, come down from Jerusalem and had a paint party, well actually more party than paint, because as soon as they finished, everyone was at the beach! It was a great help!
Emma and I painted a new red stripe at the waterline on Mehari, so now the 'station wagon of the seas' has a little more racy look. We'll see if it make us go any faster!

Speaking of which, our visas are up at the end of April, so our plans are to head north to Cyprus, so we'll be very busy moving back from Jerusalem and getting the boat ready to go, and anxious to see if we remember how to sail!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Zion Square - The hang-out!

Hanging out with friends:)
One of our favorite places to "hang-out" in Jerusalem, since we have been spending the winter here, is downtown in the area called Zion Square.  It is in the center of town near the shuk.  Shops line the walk-ways where you can buy anything from a scarf to a menorah, shoelaces to a fridge magnet. Souvenir shops,  Judaic art and toys stores.  Also there are a wide range of food places.  Big Apple Pizza, Moshiok's flaffels, and even McDonalds!  Street entertainers flood the area also.  This is where our kids like to "busk".  It is fun to watch the other "Buskers" also.  Harpists, flute players, karaoke singers and I have even seen a man playing a digeradoo (Australian Aborigine horn).  The atmosphere is fun and you can literally spend all day just walking, shopping and people watching!!!

The "Gang" busking @ Zion Square! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shopping craziness @ the Souk (Shook)

The best and cheapest way to shop in Israel...clothes and food.. is the Souk.  The oldest Souk market is the one located in the Old City but there is a Souk located in most major towns in Israel. An open air market with vender's selling produce and baked goods.  There is usually a "meat/chicken" section, with pasta, cheese and spice shops. Along with clothing stores sprinkled in and among it all.  PURE craziness!  The vendors are usually loud and aggressive and the busiest days to go are Thursday and Friday because everyone is getting ready for Sabbath.  (Saturday, end of the week rest!) I know if I am there either of those 2 days..

.#1 - I can hardly push my stroller around because of the crowds of people. 
 #2 - Within 1 hour, Zoe(4) and Lily(6) are so over-stimulated they are ready to go home!

When it is not crowded it is fun to walk around and shop. Produce is very cheap so we try to make it there at least one time a week.  We have all picked our favorite shops for goodies.  Erik loves to head over to the cheese shop and he never forgets to get some olives!! Emma and the little girls hit the cheap candy shop where you can get 1 shekel candy.  Maggie and Levi know the place for iced coffees and I love the nuts and date stands.  We also hit the bakery to grab fresh pitas, breads and baked goodies very inexpensive...oh yeah our new favorite pastry Levi introduced us to....caramel filled pocket! After eating one of those treats..... you KNOW this is the "Promised Land"!

Rachel:) Don't forget to check out all the market pics on the web album!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Walkin' on the Walls

Emma and dad:)
Hanging out with Toni and Larry!

Views from on top of the wall 

A few weeks ago I got to walk on the Ramparts walk With my dad and some friends :) What we did was walked on the outer walls of the Old city. My favorite part was all the awesome views.  The Ramparts Wall was used for the soldiers to protect the city inside and out.  You can still see bullet holes on some of the walls and!!!


Emma on the Walls!

Israeli Beaches = No shoes :)

Oh how I love Israeli beaches.  Well, I love any beach but the Israeli beaches are pretty special. For one the sand is different.  It is unique from most beaches in the US. The sand has a reddish tint that reminds me of places in Sedona AZ.  It is more fine and feels different.  I noticed it right away! No shoes required:)  Although I have not seen water more clear than in the Greek islands (clear 60 feet down) the beaches are pebble shores and shoes are needed! Some sand, but not much.  I do enjoy a good sandy beach, there is just something therapeutic about the sound of the waves and the sand in your toes!  The other reason I love the beaches here is because most public beaches have play ground equipment right on the sand for your kids to play with. Swim, play, swim, play! 

Some other beaches I loved were.... the black sand (volcanic) beaches in Costa Rica, the broken shelled beaches of Florida, small pebbled beaches of Greece and the white sand beaches of Mexico!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dig in Israel!!

While we have been here in Israel, Maggie and I have gotten the chance to help out with an archeological dig!! A couple of months ago the Grafmans (an American family we met) were here on a visit to Israel and asked us to go with them and we did!!

We drove out to the valley of Elah  (where David killed Goliath,)  and started digging around 7 am.  While we were working we found tons of pottery, bones, and glass that was thousands of years old!! It was really exciting to be able to find all of this stuff that other people have left behind, it makes me wonder what people will find of mine someday.... :) We were given small shovels and brushes and were told to dig away at a wall that was found, possibly part of someone's home. The history was incredible! They had been digging at this site for about 2 months but we were told that it would take about a year to label and classify everything that was found...crazy!

 At around 9  we had breakfast with the rest of the volunteers , which was cereal, pudding , bread, hummus, veggies, coffee and juices!! All of the food was provided for the volunteers that were working there.  At around 11 we had some more snacks. All of the volunteers were from America.  

We finished work at around 1,  then started the drive back to Jerusalem!  We were COVERED from head to toe with dirt. It was an awesome day! 


Friday, April 8, 2011

Temple Mount

I recently was able to go to the Temple Mount with some friends we have met here in Israel.  It is very fascinating and incredible to be up there and realize that this is the same place (recorded in history and in the Bible) that both temples were built and where the Israelites worshiped G-d.  There are only two times a day tourists and/or Jews may visit this site and only for a short amount of time.  Although any Arab or Muslim can have 24-7 acsess,  this seems strange to me, however these are the rules.

You must go through a series of security checks and the rules of what you can not bring are strongly enforced.  As you ascend, you are looking down on the Wailing Wall which is a cool feeling.  On top, people walk around and explore.  The view is incredible. There is much excavating going on all around so marble columns and ruins are everywhere.  There is also the mosque, courtyard and many other buildings. There are olive orchards growing however I was told that during the time of the original Temple no trees or plants grew there. It was only a place for worship and studying the Torah.  

Some Jewish Rabbi's teach that this is also the exact spot of the Garden of Eden and Mount Moriah on which Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed. This would explain why this place is so special to them. We even were able to see some Jews walking around the Temple Mount without their shoes on. They feel it is holy ground and won't wear their shoes on top. I am in awe at how much reverence and respect they have in what they believe. It was a great day and although we were rushed off at the end of our hour.....I was glad I went!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Park's in Israel

Do you know what I love about Israel...?  All the park and how much everyone uses them!!!  I promise there is one on every corner.  The very day we sailed into Israel just happened to be the Independence Day for Israel. And within 3 hours hundreds of families were everywhere picnic-ing, eating and playing in the park.  It is such a change for me as an American because we have yards and then buy swing-sets so the kids can go outside anytime they want. We seem to only use our parks for parties or special occasions.  Or maybe we are just too busy. Israelis use their parks joke! Especially on the weekends. Here, most people don't have yards.  Most people live in apartments and so swing-sets are rare.  I really love it for several reasons....

Emma caught stealing dessert!
1. You don't have to buy an expensive swing-set...and don't they always keep coming out with new models each year? So next year yours will be"out-dated". Parks are FREE. And there are usually several to choose from!
2.It gets you outside...HEALTHY!
3.You meet more people.  I have a met a ton of people at the parks.  You just must not be afraid to strike up conversation. (you never know who's life or instant friend your missing out on, if you don't just smile and introduce yourself:)
4.It causes you to be active in hanging out with your children....this sounds weird but how many times do we send our kids outside to play just so that we as adults can clean or Facebook or just do our own thing..?  I am guilty too.  Remember that they grow TOO fast and then the time is gone. 

For Zion Sake friends at the park with us!

I know Erik and I have enjoyed the time at the parks with ALL the kids and friends....and I hope that when we go back to the US we use the parks more!!!