Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 66

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I made two grim discoveries today. The first is that the pungent smell that followed me everywhere I went on my trip to Africa 12 years ago, may have in fact come from me. It might be the time change coupled with desert weather and a lot of moving around, but I smell like a Masai Warrior. The second is that I think I lost my wedding ring again. This will be the second one that I have lost permanently. I emphasize permanently because the last two things I say to my wife every morning after “I love you” are “Have you seen my wedding ring?” and “Nevermind, found it.” I asked the same thing this morning to our waiter last night, but Mustafa either didn’t know what I was talking about or he’s hiding something. Either way, I think it’s gone. By the way, the fact that I smell like a Masai Warrior makes my wife a prime suspect for throwing it out.

I didn’t have to wait that long for the other shoe to drop on my Paradise here overlooking the Sea of Gallilee. And when it dropped, it landed on a giant mosquito. Make no mistakes, we are camping here. It may be considered luxury camping, but we are in the mountains and bugs like the mountains. We are here primarily because my wife likes the mountains and I wanted to take her someplace that reminds her of her home state, Oregon. This is as close as Israel gets to Oregon except with more Jews and fewer pine trees and meth labs. But both places are beautiful. Having to deal with the occasional mosquito that has threatened to carry off my daughter and trying to navigate the air conditioner in our cabin that has two settings: really cold and really, really cold are small prices to pay to be in such a beautiful setting.

I made the comparison to camp yesterday and it still holds, except that in camp I got to kiss girls. Traveling with kids essentially robs me of any chance to make this a romantic vacation, even as our cabin looks out right now onto a serene lake bordered by shimmering lights under a full moon. We might as well be in a slaughterhouse. My kids are seven feet away from us in a tiny closet with a paper-thin door that will open in about ten minutes when Caleb decides it’s time to spoon mommy. This is a slightly bigger price to pay, but I’m having such a good time that it’s one I grin and bear. Well, bear.

Last night was our traditional Passover seder. We had it in a dining room with a family we were put with because we’re both from LA, although they live here in Israel now. Most people understand Passover as the holiday whose origins are depicted in the classic Cecil B. deMille epic, The Ten Commandments. We Jews celebrate that story by eliminating bread from our diets (for those of us who still eat carbs) for 8 days- 7 in Israel. For religious Jews, the ban against bread results in a wholesale scrubbing of the house, a whole new set of dishes and utensils, and covering every eating surface with enough tin foil to give you an instant tan when you enter the house. For religious Jews with some extra money, this can be avoided by going on a Passover program where everything is done for you. That’s where we are now. The upside is that you don’t have to do anything but eat and eat a lot. The downside is that it doesn’t have the feeling of a holiday associated with being around screaming family. Indeed, while we had a great time last night, and both kids made us proud, Shawni and I did have a small sadness that we weren’t with family. Of course, if we were with family there would be the usual yelling and arguing and swearing that “Next year in a Passover program!”

Today was mostly a day of rest, at least for Sasha and Shawni who spent most of the day in our cabin trying to fight the cough that I gave them. Caleb, on the other hand, was literally bouncing off the walls, which meant no rest for me. As I alluded to, we don’t know anyone here, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. He’s fearless in terms of playing with new kids. We played volleyball against little Israeli kids who only used their feet and who cheered him on even as he missed nearly every ball. He didn’t feel the same sense of shame that I felt when they gave me the same “Ooh, nice shot” after a ball caromed off my wrist into Syria.

Anyway, I should get going. Tomorrow is another tour day and if you listen closely you will be able to hear one of my kids saying,
“I’m tired!” while the other one says, “I’m bored!” while a third member of our family asks, “Have you seen my ring?” and my wife considers all the choices she made in her life that brought her here.


Written by 100daysoff

April 19, 2011 at 10:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Will there be a slide show viewing afterward? Why are we not seeing pictures?


    April 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm

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