Jeep Aroma

Today we went to the Kibbutz Merom Golan and took a tour in a four wheel-drive jeep of the Kibbutz and the surrounding area in the Golan Heights. Unfortunately it was foggy, cold and windy, so we didn’t get good views into Syria. But it was a fascinating tour. We were at first on a very rugged road that led into various plantings. There had been a lot of rain recently, so the road was muddy. It was full of rocks, and was very steep when we crossed the tank ditch that had been dug after the 6 Day War. We saw apple trees, grapes, date palms, kiwi, and the newest project: truffles. We saw an Israeli Defense Bunker, though we didn’t go in due to recent rains and the fact that there might have been predatory animals that had used the bunker in previous weeks. We saw the stacked shipments of huge wind turbines, waiting to be unboxed and set up to power the pumping of water from the cisterns. We went to the former Syrian defense hq, now full of multicolored graffiti, and had herbal tea heated from a portable burner on the back of the jeep. We listened to an interesting presentation on the Syrian civil war, complete with pictures of territories within Syria in different colors for different groups, changing over time. It gave us a much better understanding of what has been going on in the Middle East in the recent past.

After the jeep ride, we hopped back in the car with Ofir and began the ride down toward Tel Aviv. He took us to his house which was not far, where we met his mother and father-in-law, four-year old daughter and lovely wife. Ofir made us a delicious infusion of cardmom pods and cinnamon sticks, served with a chocolate babka-style cake from a Tel Aviv bakery known as Shemo. It was all yummy and we enjoyed our visit with his family. On the way, Ofir stopped at a place where there were tons of date palms and a market that had lots of cooking products ( a small Williams-Sonoma-type place) that also had fresh medjool dates and other dried fruits, nuts and liquors. We picked up a kilo of dates for $6.00.Then back in the car and eventually we stopped about 50 minutes away from Tel Aviv for a quick lunch at Aroma, a well-known Israeli chain (they call it the Israeli Starbucks. By the way, there is NOT even one Starbucks in Israel, except for a small outpost at the airport).

Lunch was tuna sandwich with spicy paste on the bread. After that, to Tel Aviv where we got into our hotel the Center-Chic, around 5:15pm. Unloaded luggage, found our room 209 which faced a main square, and then dressed quickly for a 150 shekel cab ride to Kefar Sava where Jen and Frank’s friends Moshe and Rosie live. She prepared for us a lovely dinner of fish, chicken, roasted potatoes and an assortment of Israeli salads. Dessert was apple or carrot cake. She sweetly drove us back to the hotel where we all collapsed into bed.

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