Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Taxicab Confessions

(Written on 5/2/2011 from Jerusalem, Israel)
I just had two of the most opposite cab ride experiences ever.  On the way to the Jerusalem mall (yes…there’s a mall in Jerusalem, and yes…I went to it) we had the slowestttttt driver in the world.  This old man who picked us up from the hotel had to carefully lower himself into his seat (bad sign #1), then didn’t hit more than 10 km per hour the entire way (bad sign #2), while he was driving in the wrong gear (bad sign #3), and everybody on the road was honking at him (bad sign #4).  All in all it took us about 20 minutes of squinting through our fingers covering our eyes before we arrived.  And then “this old man” (he played one….) proceeded to try and scam us for more money.  (Uhhh…sorry sir….not gonna happen.)
Fast forward 2 hours (and one meal) when we got into the taxi on our way from the Jerusalem mall…our energetic driver trotted out to us as we exited the mall and asked if we’d like a cab.  We negotiated a deal back to the hotel and jumped in as he rattled off stories in nearly perfect English…while his Whitney Houston soundtrack played in the background.  Then at the stop light he pulled out magic tricks for extra entertainment.  And then even asks if it’s okay if he lights up a cigarette while driving.  Wow…courteous, considerate, and a magician?!  After our (only) 5 minute taxi ride back to the hotel we were rolling with laughter.
Now you might be wondering who “we” is…and I’m super excited (insert high pitched girly voice) that my cousin Robin decided to join me in Israel.  About a week ago she told me her promise to herself was to take an international trip every year for her birthday in her 30’s.  I know….she doesn’t look like she’s old enough to be in her 30’s but she is.
Robin and me on the bus to Jerusalem

Obviously we are related...

It’s been a blessing to have Robin on this journey.  After a few months of travelling and a tad of loneliness here and there, it fills my heart to have my family (and friend) here with me.  On top of that, Robin has introduced me to some incredible people.  Before she left the U.S. she connected with (wait for it….) her half sister’s half brothers that live in Tel Aviv. 

Amazingly, they offered to let us stay with them and have since been almost overly hospitable.  Even though Robin has never met her “brothers” (and as I call them my “cousins”)….it’s like we’ve been family forever.
Malak took us to the beach for some watermelon :)
James and Malak have been the saviors (no pun intended) of our trip to Israel.  They borrowed a car from a friend to pick up Robin from the airport at 4 AM, they’ve let us stay with them, showed us around Tel Aviv, and helped us get off to Jerusalem.  They even refused to let us sleep on the couches and made us take the bed at the apartment.  Even my own brothers wouldn’t give up their bed for me to sleep in…
As a small token of my appreciation, I brought out the rolling pin (aka empty wine bottle) once again to whip up some (this time cheese filled) empanadas.  Since it was the Holocaust Remembrance Day and all of Israel closed down – and I mean CLOSED down - we stayed at home, chatted, watched some historically relevant TV shows, and topped it off with a glass of wine.

James and Malak at the apartment...ready to eat!

My thought for you today is about connecting people.  Not only was I thankful to have Robin with me, but she also connected me with some amazing people who changed my visit to Israel.  I always enjoy the excitement of introducing people to each other and helping them create bonds or relationships.
Oftentimes when I talk to somebody I’m listening for if they have any “desires” that pop up in conversation …whether that’s a new job, hobby, travelling somewhere, volunteer opportunity, information about xyz, etc.  And then I rack my brain for who I know that could help them out.   And if they’re willing, then I introduce the two.
If there’s anything I’ve learned so far on my trip….it’s that relationships make the world go round.  Who can you help to connect today?

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