From the Land of Milk and Honey.......and acid reflux.
So I see this arab guy, about 20, selling kites near my brother's neighbourhood in Kfar Adumim.
I stop and say "Salam Aleikem."
He asks me if I speak Arabic or Hebrew.
I say Hebrew.
I ask him how much the kites are.
He says 80 shekels (20 bucks for the big one and 15 for the little one.
He tries to sell me both for a hundred.
I end up offering $20 American cash for both.
He accepts but wants 5 more shekels (a buck).
I laugh and say no problem and give him the extra buck.
I offer him some dried cranberries and eat some first to show him that they are good and not poisoned.
He asks for some water. What I have is warm, probably about 90 degrees.
He soaks it up like a sponge.
I tell him he is a good man and I head out.
Find my way easily to my old kibbutz, Mishmar HaEmek, where I first learned Hebrew and worked on a chicken farm, milking the chickens in 1971-72.
I find Avram and Pneena Shachar which means Black.
We tour the kibbutz and I marvel at the trees that are about 90 years old from the kibbutz' inception in 1921.
Their 50th birthday was when I was there in 71.
It's incredibly beautiful. Lush vegetation and trees and shrubs all over the hill that is Mishmar HaEmek which means "guardian of the valley" which it was back in the 20s when Jews farmed the area.
Its main source of income is the plastics factory, Tama, which invented some harvesting packaging used around the world.
Avram takes me in an electric car to the refet, or dairy area.
He shows me a machine which feeds young calves exactly what they need each day.
The calves have an electronic device around their necks.
The device sends out a message which is read by the milk dispensing machine.
The machine reads the calves # and allows the calf in to drink milk from the machine.
It allows a specific amount programmed for that particular calf.
If a calf has already drunk that day, the machine does not let her in to drink.
Avram shows me his hobby of planting pomegranate, fig and other fruit trees just outside the kibbutz property.
He hangs bottles full of water from each tree.
Why? Because the reflection of the water in the moonlight scares off certain insects and birds which migh ruin or eat the fruit.
He read about this method and thinks it works.
The kibbutz has gotten more capitalistic since 1970.
They now hire workers for the kitchen and for other jobs like the factory night shift.
Also, in 1971, kids were not allowed even to sleep at their parents homes. They slept with their
peers in a kids house with a supervisor/teacher.
The family was considered a bourgeois force of self=centeredness.
Kids were socialized to serve the community, not the family.
Now kids sleep at home until high school when they move in to dorms on the kibbutz.
Now families fix dinner at home if they want.
The kibbutz food on Mishmar was incredible.
Much much better than in 71.
Choice of steak, chicken, pasta, shnitzel, salmon and all sorts of veggies and 2 soups.
Salad bar etc.
People get dressed up now for dinner.
Back in 71 people all wore the same work clothes.
It was more idealistic then.
Now some kibbutim rent out rooms to tourists.
Tomorrow I am meeting my friend Avi and family in Carmiel about 40 minutes from here in the north.
Then I go to Metulla, the farthest place north, right next to Lebanon.
It's called Zimmer Galilee. About 55 bucks with breakfast. Beautiful and beautiful setting.