01 April 2009

Bensch on a beach at Shavei-Tzion

My wife and I spend a lot of time walking on the beach from Naharyyah out past Shavei-Tzion, most of the way to Akko. This is part of the stretch north of Haifa up to the Lebanese border. Now, I have never had a Lebanese boarder, though I did once have a Welsh boarder who came with an apartment I rented. Not as in Welsh border collie, but actually an Israeli born and raised in Cardiff, devoid of any organic, patriotic or cultural connection to the dark and brooding Cymric state. In any case, it was a mighty peculiar situation. He was just there, and occaisionally he paid rent for his room. We took over the rental from a young man from Krugersdorf, South Africa who had hurt his back while doing his national service in the Israeli army and couldn't take all the stairs. The apartment in question was a fourth floor walk-up. Rather incidentally he mentioned while passing the key into our hands that a fellow from Wales lived in the second bedroom. He was saving up money to get a place of his own, so that his wife, a moshavnik from Lancashire, England originally, could come up to Karmiel. Well ok.

As it happened, the owners of the apartment quite correctly demanded the right to approve of our tenancy. The husband was from the states, but the family boss, his wife was from Scotland originally, but both were Israeli kibbutzniks for a long while already. We were a bit nervous about our living situation as there was a severe shortage of housing at that time, and every day El Al jumbo jets were landing at Ben Gurion International, and boats were docking at Haifa port, filled with newly released Jews from the former Soviet Union. Israel ended up with a million new citizens during that year.

So we met the Scots-born landlady-in-waiting on a chilly, rainy evening at a very unglamorous street cafe by the central bus station in Haifa. The caffeine in the turkish coffee, though considerable, barely compensated for the drowsing effect of the carbon monoxide fumes. Names were exchanged, hands were shaken, hesitancy overcome, cordiality exhibited; a contract was signed, and the deal sealed with that fine, internationally acceptable medium of cash (on the barrelhead). With thousands of immigrants living in caravan cities and even tents, that apartment was an answer to our prayers.

I may have mentioned to the Scots-born balaboosta that I was a long-time player of the Scottish Highland bagpipe, and that may have helped.