Thursday, July 4, 2013

Settled in Akko

I had planned to get up and go straight to Akko on Wednesday.  But it turned out that Shlomo volunteers at the Israel Museum, a place I'd wanted to visit since last time, when most of it was being renovated.  He offered to take me there and then drop me at a bus-stop for an express bus to Tel Aviv, from which I would take a mini-bus to the train and head up the coast.
That all went well: we got to the museum, he went off to guide a tour, while I looked at photography, Judaica (the whole question of sacred art is one that continues to intrigue me.  There were whole synagogues that had been rebuilt in the museum--from Surinam, from India, from Italy.  There were Purim megillot, hanukkiyot, Seder plates.  Wedding and burial dress. Some were quite ordinary--simply there to fulfill a function--but others took a step beyond.  What they don't do is question the meaning of the sacred (that is, their job is to sanctify, not question whether the ritual/event is worth sanctifying).  Does that make them less art?  Does art have to question?).  I made my way to the Dead Sea Scrolls and through more sacred writing.Then Shlomo gave me a tour of the contemporary art and photography--an exhibit of the photography of people who move from one place to another--immigrants or expats, some of each.  And then it was time for me to go.
The travel plan went smoothly until I actually arrived in Akko.  And there I got completely befuddled.  I had not copied down the exact directions from the train to the house, since I had expected to have internet (which I don't have and won't.  At this point, I'll cope--at least I've figured out how to call the US!). So I asked a taxi driver for directions.  The train station is located on the same street as the house, but the driver's phone showed no such address.  And facing the train station were rows of low-cost housing apartments.  I set off down the street, trying to see an address on those building.  None.  I crossed the street and headed down another street.  Nothing--a few shops, people walking by--women wearing head-scarves or not; groups of boys out for summer. Everything a bit dirty and dusty, not to mention hot and sticky.  And there I am, wearing jeans and a backpack, pulling my large suitcase behind me! So I called Miranda to help.  After she finished laughing--and let me state that there was absolutely no reason for her to laugh!  It was not funny in the least!--she did get me directions: stone fence, small house, 200 meters from the station on the same side.  I retraced my steps, but having a very bad sense of how far 200 meters is, I turned left where I should have turned right.  And there I am, still lugging my suitcase, and looking around with some concern, when a man on a bicycle calls out "Gevuret!  Are you looking for Moshe?"
I told him I was and asked with some amazement how he had known that.  He simply said "I knew," being too polite to point out that his first clue might have been the woman wearing a backpack, dragging a suitcase, and looking lost.  He was Moshe's neighbor, Bilal (I knew the name was familiar, and only later realized that I knew from Torah).  He led me back to the house, which was indeed 200 meters from the train station.  It's a lovely little house--three bedrooms, nice kitchen--all the amenities I might want, including air conditioning and a washing machine.  It's between a busy street and the train tracks, so you might think it would be too noisy, but it's not (at least not for me).  This house and the neighboring homes were built by the British, apparently, and are grandfathered in--Moshe inherited the house or the lease (not clear which) from his father and, as a result, the government provided double-paned windows to keep out the noise.  (I closed up at night, but now there's a soft breeze and I can hear people and gulls, as well as the traffic.  It's comforting in a way--sounds of people getting on with their lives.)
Went out later in the evening and wandered around.  There's an open-air market with fruit and vegetables that was closed, but that I'll head to in a bit.  A number of falafel restaurants--it was late last night, but I'm planning on having dinner at one or another pretty much regularly.  And I have to make it to the beach, which I'll do soon.  In the meantime, it's time to plan the next few weeks.
Next posts: I got up.  I ate breakfast.  I sat at my computer and wrote.  But oh! what a nice place to work!

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