As is traditional with my blog, it seems that I only take the opportunity to sit down and commit electronic ink to screen when I feel I have something to say or at the very least when I have the time.
In recent times, I have certainly been busy. Both in and out of work. In these recent times I have been quite negligent to several old friends in my usual correspondence – and to those I apologise. You are not forgotten, and you will be replied to when the time allows it, in the interim period I hope that tonight’s post allows you to at least see I’m alive.
Tonight, is in fact the first time that I’ve turned on a computer outside of work for the first time in weeks. But then this is the first opportunity in weeks. Far am I from complaining, I choose to be busy, I choose to have my weeks filled with activity. Mondays and Wednesdays take me to 9 pm with Hebrew classes, Tuesday is the midweek drink, whilst Thursdays through Sunday are the weekend and usually entail some excursion.
In some ways, it is a real shame. Last weekend, I ventured all the way to the very North of the country and hiked through the Golan heights. In one lake I saw cranes, herons, flamingos, pelicans, ducks and geese all seemingly descending on one location has they all undergo the start of the Spring migrations between different continents.
On the next day I climbed a mountain, in a mountain range high enough to have snow throughout the year in a desert country. From the top of this mountain I looked out across almost 4 countries. To the left lay Lebanon, in front of me, Syria, at my feet lay the beginnings of the River Jordan and behind me views over the Sea of Galilee and Israel. The recent wars made very clear by the disused military base full of sniper and gun-mount positions on top the mountain.
This weekend saw me return to Rehovot upon the only train of the night after Shabbat (Saturday night, as Jewish calendar technically runs sunset to sunset) but before the Israeli noise laws prohibit the trains running. Getting me back to the flat somewhere after 11.
A weekend previous saw me climbing over Roman ruins of the Roman port city of Caesarea.
With such activity, tonight saw the first time I’d managed to get to a supermarket in over 3 weeks, and it was getting to the point of stupidity. The point at which you can no longer even eat dried pasta with sauce on account of having no pasta or any sauce left. But also with such businesses I havent had the chance to even look at the photos I’ve taken over the last few weeks – let alone do anything with them. The photo above is an unedited photo with just a long exposure.
But with all this fun going on, I don’t want it to be misleading. Life here is hard. And increasingly I’m realising that I need to enjoy and make the most of every victory – no matter how small. My new boss is a slave driver, and expects nothing but the best, all of the time. No question, this certainly gets the most out of you and the work being generated I’m quite frankly in awe of. Results here that would have taken months in Norwich are coming in closer to the week mark. Experience may have a little to say about it, but being surrounded by motivated expert types, facilities that work and having to answer for your actions every week is both motivating and exhausting.
In a different example of everyday battles, today, I managed to go to the supermarket buy meat from the butcher, cheese from the counter and pay for it all, without being misunderstood and actually getting what I wanted. All-in-all, today was the best experience I’ve had at the supermarket in Israel and nearing comparable with human interaction levels in the UK. So maybe all this Hebrew practice is starting to pay off. But it’s amazing what a good mood this puts me in.
But then my time here in Israel is a rollercoaster, swinging wildly between highs and lows.
This morning I put a good friend in a taxi and took his keys back whilst he went to catch a flight to France. This man was one of the three main reasons I came to Israel. Before I came here, I respected him as a scientist and as a great mind. When I was here I came to respect him as a thinker, as socially aware and as a close friend. A few I’m sure will have spotted the leaving card I made him on Facebook, something completely unprecedented for me.
As is the nature of science, our contracts are short and take us around the world. It often feels that just as you begin to know someone that they are torn from our lives. His presence will be sorely missed in the office. In some ways, when you move around the world, those in the lab become a lot like family. They are the people that you see everyday. They see you at your best, they see you at your worst. Sometimes they even understand.
Today then, it felt like I was losing a brother. A man that I had known for only 4 months and become more a part of me than I had even realised. Putting him in that taxi and watching him drive away to the next chapter in his adventure was more difficult for me emotionally than leaving the country of my birth.
Maybe, leaving Blighty was easy. I knew it was coming. I had a long time to prepare and I had a big adventure to look forward. Maybe in a small way that moment felt like a funeral, mourning the connection that, however brief and perhaps will be revisited at conferences, will never be the same.
The decision was the right one for him. And I wish him the best. I’m sure his career will be a long one, and science will be the better for it.
So there you have it. As is the way, I blog when I have something to say, and when I want to say something, I make the time to say it – sometimes to my detriment. Friends may come, friends may go, but increasingly I’m finding that people, no matter where they are from, are people. Each is interesting, each with their own story. I do not regret moving to Israel. I do not regret having not spoken to anyone here with English as their mother-tongue. I embrace it.
Life is difficult here and life is a challenge. Nothing here seems to come easily. But would I change it. Not one bit (well actually I’d change a lot, but you know what I mean). In the time that I’ve been here I feel that I’ve changed so much and yet not changed at all.
If the biggest thing that I can complain about is doing too much, not having time to look at my photos, not having time to turn a computer on, not having the time to inform the world as to what I’m doing. Then I’m okay with that. Israel is only a little country and I’m sure I’ll run out of things to do at some point. And if I dont, well then I’ll have the whole rest of my life to touch up and sort through photos.