Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Israel: "Country Cottage" in Tiberius

We made it to Tiberius. The maps we had downloaded from were just...incorrect. So, we stopped at a little mini-mart, and I went in to ask, as well as buy a few things for our breakfast the next morning before the sun went down. The guys working there were very helpful. Then a man came in, listened to our conversation, then began to pull on my sleeve. I wasn't sure what to do! Thankfully, CC came to my rescue and went with him. He wanted to show us the road, rather than use a map. With his directions, we went up the highway hill, found a sign leading to three little villages, and found the one which was listed as the address on our confirmation. No street. No number. Just a village. That's all we got from our printout. That maybe should have been a clue.

Then CC stopped as this man on his tractor was just making his way back home before the Sabbath began. He spoke great English, pulled out a smartphone, and called the phone number, all while manure was dripping off his tractor's front scoop. We were directed to which street in the village. I couldn't resist pointing out that this man had a smartphone. (I do not!)

We drove through the streets and found our house. I SO regret not getting a picture of the cottage. I took this one off the Internet. And every time I look at it, I start to laugh. How in the world do they make places look SO good on the Internet? Indeed, this is the house, but it just did not look like this.

Doesn't it look like we'll just come out that door with hot coffee and cozy up around that round table, children romping and playing in the front yard? This wasn't actually our door. Our door was 'round the corner.

We stepped out of the car and our nostrils began flaring! We were smack dab in the middle of three mass-producing cow and sheep farms. Now, I visited my Granny plenty as as kid. Manure smell is no big deal. But the air was so full of rotten hay, manure, damp raw smells, it was pretty much impossible not to wince, gag, or giggle. My kids are troopers. They'll sleep anywhere and eat anything, but they could not stop laughing and commenting (gagging). We had to shut the car door while CC went up to get the key. Then, we'd make a mad run to the cottage and shut the door. The grass wasn't green like this, it was smeared with mud and manure. I did see some comments about this place, but nothing in English. It was a good price, not far from the Sea of Galilee, and could house all 7 of us (which is hard to find), but the emphasis on "country" really didn't do it justice.

The manager would not accept our money until Sunday due to not wanting to conduct business on the Sabbath. She also told us it would be fine to drive our car, but to please not barbecue. Now, barbecue to this Memphis girl means pork ribs slathered with Redezvous or Corky's sauce, and I was certain I would not find any of those things in Israel. We began putting it together In our heads and realized that in her limited English, she was telling us not to use the stovetop during Sabbath. I respected her wishes and did not turn it on until it Sabbath was complete. I wondered if she was concerned about me (clearly a Gentile) breaking the Sabbath, or was she worried what the neighbors might think, or did she feel a conviction that the stovetop was owned by her. Many times during our time in Israel, my husband commented things had not changed all that much since Jesus came. White-clean on the outside, but unwilling to have the inside washed clean. 

Soon, the kids went out exploring and found this. Every time they would go visit the sheep, the would loudly, and in varying pitches, start to "BAAAAAA!" You could always tell from our cottage when Sweet Cheeks or Big Ben had gone near them. "Baaa! Baaaa!" like a chorus!

Later on that night, we drove through Tiberius in search of dinner. NOTHING was open. No lights, no cars, just Jews dressed for the Sabbath, walking to the synagogue or to Shabbat dinner within walking distance of their homes.

We found one lone place with a light on at the edge of town, and a man who blessedly served the Gentiles, foregoing the "kosher" certificate in lieu of Friday night business from Gentiles.

We got out of the car, and I spotted this sign! We put Sweet Cheeks, named Eva, up on a light post to get in the picture. My maiden name was "Fish"! I want to research this person!

The meal we had was delicious. Falafel in pita bread, hummus dip, cabbage. It was good food, and when there is no other food available, it tastes even better.

We headed back to our "country cottage," darting inside as fast as we could. I regrettably assumed that the AC unit mounted to the ceiling, which looked just like our AC units in Singapore, was only for air conditioning in the summer. I never thought to check and see if it was a dual purpose for heat and air. So, the damp, cold, manure air enveloped us every night we were there. We could not get a single towel to dry. We had to preheat the hot water, strip down in the room without siblings peeking, dart into the shower, dry off with a damp towel, then dive under the covers because it was cold. The upside of this place was that it did have a tv. Each night it had a good kid-friendly movie. The kids watched a movie about Hans Christian Anderson and also Peter Pan. 

In the mornings, we had cereal and milk, some bread that I fried with a little butter to toast it, and hot tea/coffee. I bought some "blueberry" jelly which turned out to be prune spread! ha ha...good for vacation!

The free wifi at this place ended up only being available out on the other side of the owner's house, out near the cow barn. So, CC would take his laptop, hold his breath, go sit near the cows, and plan our routes for the next day.

After the first night, Twinkle Toes mentioned she had a bite or two that itched. We didn't think anything of it. Then the second night, she got more bites. And they were in a row! BED BUGS!!! CC quickly researched the internet (out near the cows) and came back saying, "Honey, you don't want to see the images of those monsters enlarged on my computer!" We had only one night left there with no idea where else to go. No one else had gotten any bites, so we carefully put those bed bugs to bed by pulling up the covers, tied up all of Twinkle's pj's in a bag, got everything up off the floor as the Internet (by the cows) suggested, then put all the kids in the other beds together. CC told me to not even pull back the covers to check for anything, just leave those critters to their habitat.

I am not sure my kids have ever packed and loaded up as quickly as they did the morn we left! And now I am dying to read what the commenters posted in Hebrew about this cottage. I might learn the Hebrew word for stinky! But in spite of all of it, we told ourselves that one day we'd laugh about it. And strangely, for at least two of my kids, it was their favorite place to stay because of the lambs.


Anonymous said...

I laughed and laughed. Bugs are my worst nightmare which is why I always book us in expensive hotels. I make no apologies for saying that and it is not a brag. I am not wealthy but one thing I will spend my money on is where I sleep. I learned that lesson long ago with four kids. A comfortable nights rest is well worth it to me.

We all have our areas. Had I been with you, I would have slept in the car. (This is info in case I ever visit . . . Haha)

A sidenote . . . Since Dave always has me make the travel arrangements, I never tell him how much we are paying and he doesnt ask. He would not pay the prices. But he gives me a certain amount of money for our trip and then doesnt say anything else.

Actually, he thinks I am a great finigler. Sometimes he just shakes his head and grins.

But, no bugs!


Anonymous said...

And I had a mental picture of internet out by the cows with Ross. I laughed out loud at that. THAT does sound like us!!

What a great adventure for the kids.


Anonymous said...

And, had I really been with ya'll, I would not have been a rude guest. I would have had a legitimate reason for sleeping in the car, never mentioning the bugs. Hehe

So if I'm ever traveling with ya'll and you see me heading to the car with a blanket and pillow . . . Just saying.


Ellie said...

Oh, dear God! I would have been in the fetal position somewhere under a tree, but not near manure!

That's just awful...

And "Mel," I hate to burst your bed bug-free hotel bubble, but they know ABSOLUTELY NO difference between an $80 per night accomodation and a $1200 per night accomodation. In fact, most of my friends who have done extensive traveling for their jobs in the US and abroad tend to stay in the higher-end hotels and each one of them (no kidding) has experienced bed bugs one way or another. It's not a matter of filth or cleanliness. The bugs actually hitch a ride on the traveler and go wherever they go. They're world travelers! My father just stayed in a posh and very, very expensive bed and breakfast in Italy where royalty has stayed and, soon after he left, friends also stayed there and learned they carried them back with them to the states -- OVER THE OCEAN -- ON THE PLANE! They hitched little rides to Connecticut and they spend thousands of dollars having their beautiful home cleard of them.

I'd suggest checking sites like TripAdvisor (always check the comments section first and start with the negatives) and No matter how much you spend on accomodations! The bugs know no difference between a Renaissance or a Motel6...they just want to suck on your blood while you're sleeping because their travels make them hungry!

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