Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fishing In Spain

A while back my little brother got engaged. Weddings are an exciting time. As is traveling with your extended family. Armed with these two absolutes, the young couple decided to get married in Spain.

The logistics of traveling with a large family and making a wedding in a foreign country are complex to say the least. This was a crucial but unavoidable bit of information that we were destined to discover amongst the frantic festivities.

In our earlier years, before moving to the holy land, we had a nanny from Gautemala that spoke Spanish. She taught us useful words in Spanish like the names of food and how to count at least until 20. One of my sisters took a Spanish course in high school where she had learned some useful words and sayings.

I too took a Spanish course in high school and still remembered how to say some slightly less useful sentences such as, "me omigos ombligo" and "tu eres una chica linda". Both of which I felt could potentially come in handy depending on the situations we encountered while in Spain.

Feeling confident with our limited grasp of the language, there was only a mild amount of panic when my mother announced that we needed to buy salmon for dinner. My sisters and I were heading out to the mall so it made sense that we should pick up while we were out.

No problem.

How hard could it be to find enough salmon to feed roughly 35 people?

Shopping at the mall went off without a hitch. Our international credit cards were warmly accepted. And being the humanitarian that I am, I did my part to help boost their economy.

We briefly checked out the fish selection at the grocery store in the mall and found it to be underwhelming. No worries, there were at least two other places that my mother had recommended we check.

The cars were loaded and we clambered in to head to the next stop. After a brief miscommunication, the two cars drove off in different directions. This miscommunication would later play a vital role in our quest for salmon.

Minutes later the car I was in arrived in front of a tiny kosher store while the second car ended up at a grocery store in a different mall. The tiny kosher store had no fish. I called my sister in the second car, the store at the mall did not have fish.

We were fish-less and running out of time. I tried to ask the man at the tiny kosher store where I could find fish. His English was about as good as my Spanish. Realizing that my Spanish skills were not up to the task, I settled for loudly repeating my request multiple times in English.

An unconventional yet surprisingly effective approach. The man somehow understood what we wanted and sent us to a supermarket down the block. The other car made similar progress and headed to another grocery store in search of the elusive salmon.

We struck gold on our end. There lying on a bed of ice, was an entire salmon. We rejoiced as we ran to the fish counter to try and explain that we needed enough salmon for 35 people. The man at the counter looked confused as we attempted to barter for our fish.

He pointed at the fish and assured us that it was one fish. Yes, one was good but we needed more.

Desperation began to sink in. It suddenly struck me that perhaps The Crazy Lady's ludicrous request for 35 portions of salmon may not come to fruition. I placed a frantic phone call to explain the situation. The Crazy Lady answered the phone with an aura of calmness. She remained calm as I explained our predicament and reduced the needed number of portions to 28 pieces of fish.

I passed the message along and my sister and brother in-law made a valiant effort to convey the amount of fish that we needed. Between the two of them they got the number of portions across and the man at the fish counter began to panic.

He did not have 28 fish for us. Which was fine, since we only needed 28 portions. He struggled to understand. We struggled to explain. Finally he put his foot down, he could not provide us with the absurd amount of fish that we required.

We looked at each other and collectively prayed for salvation. He must have seen the panic in our eyes because he kindly guided us to the pre-packaged pieces of salmon that he had cut up that very morning.

We thanked him profusely and grabbed nearly every tray of salmon that we found. This resulted in an entire shopping basket overflowing with fish. A spectacle that did not go unnoticed by the other shoppers in the store.

There was an elderly gentleman standing in front of us at the checkout line. He turned around to stare at our basket. Then chuckled and remarked "came to Spain for the fishing, eh ?" as he gestured towards the piles of precariously perched fish. We nodded politely as we were once again hit with the absurdity of the situation.

In our panic to get to the store we had forgotten to bring shopping bags. Fortunately, Lori had noticed a display of cooler bags and grabbed one on the way to the register. Alas, the vast quantities of fish did not fit into the one cooler bag, but there was no turning back now. We had chosen our path and were determined to stick with it.

Everyone stopped to stare as we wrestled almost all of the fish into the bag save for three trays or so. Then, with all of the grace and dignity we could muster, we grabbed the bag and remaining trays of fish and made a run for it.

We made it back to the vila right on schedule where we were heraled as heroes for saving supper.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Adventures In Cyprus

A friend of mine started med school in Cyprus this past year. Semester break seemed like the perfect opportunity to go visit her. My friend Chava and I found some reasonably priced tickets and headed off to Cyprus for the weekend.

The flight itself was pretty uneventful. We took off, they came around with a little cart of hot beverages and snacks (non-complimentary of course) and then 20 minutes or so later we began preparing for landing.

The plane landed, we disembarked and clambered onto the little shuttle that was waiting for us. The shuttle took us to passport control where we spent an hour waiting on line to get through.

Next we picked up our suitcases from baggage claim and headed out into Larnaca. Moria (our friend studying in med school) had ordered a shuttle for us so we sat on a bench outside of the airport to patiently wait for it.

Forty minutes went by and we finally saw a shuttle in the distance driving towards us. We stood up to gather our things. The shuttle drove right past us. The driver was seemingly oblivious to our cries and flailing arms as the shuttle disappeared into the distance.

Moments later a man in sunglasses and a hoodie walks over to us and asks us if we're going to Nicosia. Confused, we hesitantly replied "yes".

He nods and says "come, we go now to nicosia. I take you for only 15 euro. It is very good deal.". I look at chava, chava looks at me. I comment that we're waiting for a shuttle to pick us up to which he replies "No, the shuttle is gone. He will not come back. I will take you but we must hurry.".

Its been a long day and the shuttle doesn't appear to be coming to get us. Moria is in the library so her phone is on silent and she isn't answering. The man gestures to a taxi cab and mentions again that we must hurry.

We nod hesitantly. The man grabs our bags and starts heading to the cab. The situation seems less than optimal but the bags are in the trunk and the man is herding us into the car because "we must leave quickly".

We give him the address which he puts into Google maps and our journey begins. I'm pretty sure we're going to die or at least get kidnapped. These are the kinds of situations that your parents warn you about. The sort of situations that you're generally encouraged to avoid.

I'm sitting there staring out the window wondering how I ended up in the back of this strange mans taxi when suddenly the driver breaks the silence. "Girls, I must tell you something. When you are going to do something illegal, you do not think. You must do it very quickly.".

Awesome.

Cool.

This is how I die. 👌🏻

He then continues to elaborate, "we are not allowed to pick up from the airport. But I must go to nicosia to pick people up and I do not wish to drive with an empty taxi. So I give you a good deal but this is illegal because I am not allowed".

Ah, well, that puts things into perspective....

The rest of the ride was much more pleasant. The driver is actually from Greece and has been living in Larnaca for almost a year. He showed us pictures of his home in Greece and said that he wishes to visit tel aviv some day.

He also told us about the festival  that's going on this weekend and said maybe we'll see him there. But he'll be dressed up in a costume so we probably won't recognize him, unless he dresses up as a taxi driver...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Nuts, Its An Egg!

Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies. Over the course of the summer Freddie and I have been planting all sorts of exciting things wherever we find room to fit planters. Almost every window houses planters full of various herbs and flowers. 

Earlier this afternoon Freddie opened the kitchen window to harvest some of the herbs for dinner and found a strange oval object nestled between the oregano leaves. A couple of weeks prior to today's event Freddie had found some pigeons trying to build a nest in the thyme plant but chased them away before they got too far. Deterred, the pigeons left, but had they returned to try again?

It had been a long morning and Freddie wasn't sure she had the strength to handle the delicate situation at hand. She texted me asking for advice and having never been in this particular predicament before, I said I'd take a look at it after school.

On the ride home I wondered what to do with the egg. Should I try to find an incubator and hatch the egg? Could I keep it as a pet or would it be better off in the wild? Should I simply solve the situation by sending it over the edge of the planter from the fourth story window? 

When I got home I headed straight to the kitchen and opened the window to see what I was dealing with. The object in question was indeed oval in shape and a light brown color with darker brown markings. I put on a pair of gloves and used one hand to push back the oregano leaves to get a closer look. 

I tentatively poked at the object, nothing happened. 

I sighed and moved the hand that was pushing back the leaves. As the leaves fell back into place the object shifted position and slid towards me, exposing its rounded yet distinctively pointed edge. I don't have much experience with eggs outside of store bought chicken eggs but I'm fairly certain that eggs don't have pointed edges. 

With a gloved hand I picked up the object in question and determined that it was some sort of nut. I hit it against the window frame a couple of times and it seemed far too hard to be the fragile shell of an egg so I tossed it out the window. 

Problem solved I wished the egg-nut farewell and sat down to eat dinner.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Minor Miscommunications

Another year is almost over. How does that keep happening?

I spent most of my time this year hospital hopping from rotation to rotation. A couple of days ago I finished my rotation in a community clinic. It was different than being in the hospital, I was worried that it may be boring there and it almost always was. 

Every morning at around 8:30am people would come to get hooked up to one of our 24 hour holters (we only had two machines). The other morning a Portuguese speaking fellow came in and asked if anyone spoke Portuguese. We had Hebrew speakers, English speakers, French speakers, and Russian speakers but unfortunately no Portuguese speakers. 

With the help of his referral from the doctor we were able to determine that he needed to be hooked up to one of the holters. We got him all set up and told him to come back the next morning so we could take the machine off.

The next morning the old man returned and we took the holter off him. He thanked us and then asked us where he can pay. Fearing that there was a miscommunication because of the language, we explained that he has insurance and he doesn’t have to pay separately. He contemplated what we were saying and nodded his head as he stuck his hands into his pockets and rummaged around for a moment.

“Well then, how about if I pay you in THESE?” he asked as he tossed a handful of candy in our direction before getting confused about where the exit was and accidentally scurrying into the adjacent storage closet. After a good laugh, we helped him out of the storage closet and thanked him for the candy before leading him to the exit.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tossed Salad

Its that time of the semester again. You know, the lovely time of year when the sun is out, the flowers are blooming and  panic is in the air.

This semester most of my exams are at 17:00 as opposed to in the morning. It's nice not having to wake up super early to rush to the university for an exam (especially since I don't exactly live in the area nowadays), but 17:00 isn't exactly my finest hour.

By the time I'm done with my exam and ready to go home, it's pretty dark out and rush hour is in full swing. The mental stress from sitting around all day trying to cram as much information as humanly possible into the black abyss that has taken up residence in my brain finally begins to take its toll and exhaustion takes over.

As I make my way home I find that I'm just the perfect mix of delusional and disoriented. This precarious balance opens up a world of possibilities for exciting new adventures.

Last night I arrived at the train station just in time for the 19:46 train only to discover that the train wasn't scheduled to leave from the train station that I was in. It turns out that the 18:46 train hadn't left from that station either and there were a lot of very confused passengers that had been waiting nearly two hours for a train that wasn't coming.

An announcement came over the speakers saying that the train would be leaving from the next station. Passengers waiting for the Jerusalem train were to take a train to the next station and transfer there to the Jerusalem train. The crowd surged as one and we pushed onto an already full train to head to the next station.

Propped up by my fellow passengers, I took a look around. An older woman maneuvered herself towards me and asked "Are you also trying to get to the Jerusalem train?". I nodded and she looked relieved. When we got to the next stop I watched as she pushed herself through the crowd and elbowed her way up the escalator at lightning speed yelling for them to hold the train to Jerusalem.

Spurred into action by her reminder that we would all miss the train, everyone began to run. In the most unorganized fashion imaginable we made it onto the train and I even got a seat. 

Knowing that I would be going home on the later side, I had made a chicken salad to eat on the train. There wasn't much in the way of elbow room but I was hungry so I decided to eat my salad anyways.

All eyes were on me as I struggled to retrieve my salad from the depths of my backpack, unknowingly loosening the top of the container. Victorious, I held the container in both hands and gave it a good shake to try and mix everything together. Everyone watched in horror as I showered the guy sitting next to me in my dinner.

My immediate reaction was to avoid eye contact and pretend that maybe no one had noticed. Except it was a crowded train and everyone had watched me throw chicken at the guy sitting next to me. 

Eventually I apologized and tried to be helpful by picking the pieces of chicken and various vegetables off of his sleeve. Fortunately for his jacket, I forgot to dress the salad so clean up was easy with minimal staining. 

He was nice about it. Didn't make a big fuss or anything. Just politely nodded and began intently reading some papers that he had with him. We avoided eye contact for the remainder of the ride as I ate the remaining salad. 

Maybe next time I'll pack a sandwich.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Security Scrutiny

The early morning hours are not my finest hours. I often struggle to find the balance between grace and functionality.

Ideally I like to wake up at a normal time and take my time showering, getting dressed and eating breakfast before leaving the house for the day. When I leave the house before the sun rises, my priorities are a little different. And despite my best efforts to look like a presentable member of society, things have a way of going awry.

The other morning was no different than any other.

My alarm clock went off at precisely 4:45am and I did my very best to ignore it. Five minutes later it rang again, I sighed and made a pitiful attempt to get out of bed. Having failed at getting out of bed I moved on to the next order of business, clothing. Getting dressed consists of me blindly flailing my arms in the direction of my conveniently placed clean laundry basket in order to acquire a pair of pants, underwear, two socks and some sort of shirt and/or sweater and then donning said articles of clothing.

Next I made a more successful attempt at getting out of bed and turned on the light. Satisfied with my choice in clothes I moved to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face in the frigid water which doubles as an extra wake up call. From there we move down the stairs and into the kitchen where I make a cup of coffee in a travel mug to drink on the bus.

As I begin to bundle myself up in my winter gear, I notice a lonely chocolate chip muffin sitting in the cabinet begging to be eaten. After a brief moment of hesitation I grab the muffin and stick in my bag to have with my coffee in a seemingly innocent act. Thus, unknowingly changing my fate.

Mere moments later I grab my bag and head out into the early morning darkness to catch my bus. The first bus ride passes without a hitch. I disembark and make my way to the bus stop across the street to wait for the inner-city that takes me to the hospital. The bus arrived right on schedule and I sat down in my usual seat. My hand brushed against the travel mug and my stomach grumbled.

As I sat on the bus sipping my lukewarm coffee I remembered the muffin. Smiling I reached into my bag and retrieved the muffin. I don't know if you've ever tried eating a muffin while holding a coffee cup on a bus that happens to be driving down a exceptionally uneven road before, but in my experience it is not an easy task.

I arrived at the hospital feeling slightly more disheveled than usual and made my way to security as I do every morning. Each morning the security guard and I have roughly the same conversation...

Security guard: Good morning.
Me: Good morning.
Security guard: Student?
Me: Yep.
Security guard: I have to check your bag anyways because you're not an employee..
Me: OK...
*Security guard checks bag, finds nothing of interest*
Security guard: OK, have a nice day!
Me: thanks, you too.

This mornings conversation went a little bit differently:
Security guard: Good morning student!
Me: Good morning.
Security guard: You've got some coffee on your pants...
Me: Yep.
*Security guard continues to stare at my pants*
Security guard: It's in like, 3 places...
Me: I noticed, thanks.
*Security guard shakes head in apparent disbelief*
Security guard: It's a little noticeable.
Me: Thanks for pointing it out...
Security guard: I'm still gonna have to check your bag.
Me: Enjoy
*Security guard halfheartedly checks bag while still staring at the noticeable coffee stains on my pants*
Security guard: Well then, have a nice day..
Me: Sure, you too...
*Security guard giggles to himself*
Security guard: Maybe next time try to get more coffee in your mouth and less on your pants!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Early Morning Excursions

This year we jumped right into rotations as soon as school started. Each rotation is around 12-20 shifts so we end up switching hospitals each month.

My first rotation was in a psychiatric hospital. The overall experience was as enlightening as it was terrifying. I enjoyed the time that I spent there but was glad to say goodbye at the end of the month and move to Pediatrics.

Pediatrics has been fun. But the hospital itself is a little hard to get to. After a week of trial and error, I resorted to taking the first bus out of bet shemesh in order to get to my 7am shift on time.

I've always been what most people call "a morning person" but rarely have I cheerily woken up at 4:50am to catch the first bus out of the city. I was under the assumption that 5:00am is the time of day where most sane people are tucked away safe in their beds.

Boy was I surprised to find out that I was wrong. It turns out the first bus out of bet shemesh is actually pretty full. Some of the regulars have been taking the first bus for years.

The first time that I took the first bus I thought it would be a somber experience. I was shocked when I got on the bus and was greeted by warm smiles. As the bus drove down the highway unhindered by the inconvenience of other cars, the driver turned up the radio and  I was subjected to my very first 5:30am karaoke.

It turns out that the first bus is a place full of love and laughter. There's a special bond between these veteran early risers forged by sleep deprivation and a lack of caffeine. The bus driver knows them each by name and they share a knowing glance when a newcomer gingerly climbs onto the bus on their shaky legs, exhausted and disoriented from having woken at such an ungodly hour.

It certainly has been an experience and its nice to know that even in the darkness of the early morning hours, there's a group of people lighting up the day.

Today I am greatful for mornings that I get to sleep past 5am.