I spent my last day with Yona. First we went to Beilinson Hospital where Yona had a brief appointment. The hospital is enormous, very modern looking and filled with people walking in the corridors. I’m used to large hospitals; we have them here in Pittsburgh; but I’ve never seen so many people in the hallways. We got to the Dr.’s reception room where a woman lying on a gurney and her daughter were already waiting. Two more women, only one a patient, walked in while we waited. Then the daughter’s husband and another family member came in along with the family of the other patient. Yona said this always happens: you go to see your doctor with your entire family and when you are hospitalized the entire family comes with food. That explained all the people in the hallways.
Yona lives near the Mediterranean in an area that narrowly borders the West Bank. We drove toward another checkpoint leading to the West Bank city of Tul Karm, only a short distance from Netanya. We did not enter Tul Karm but turned into an Israeli settlement filled with lovely homes and gardens that borders it. When the settlement was first developed it was considered high risk. Protected by the border wall, two electric fences, a no-mans land and a guarded gate, it has become a highly desirable location where children can walk home from school by themselves and play outside without constant adult attention.
Our next destination was a nearby Israeli-Arab village where we met with the principal of the school, whom Yona knew. She doesn’t really know everyone; it just seems that way. This village did not have the neat gardens and numerous trees we saw in the previous settlement. We arrived as school was letting out and saw lots of children walking in the streets.
After another lunch of hummus and falafel at an Arab restaurant we drove along the coast and looked at two more schools, this time boarding schools. I don’t know how much I could focus on my studies with the Mediterranean nearby.
It was a long day and I was happy to get back to Yona’s house and rest for awhile. My taxi came at 10pm for a 1am departure. The airport was filled with groups of kids waiting to go through security. To my amazement and pleasure I was invited to sit and security would come to me. What a change from our airports, of which I have more to say. I got through all the preliminary questions and the inspection of my bag. Clutching passport and boarding passes I went through the usual x-raying of my carryons, again with no waiting. They really gave me special treatment. I’ve decided it pays to walk around with a cane.
My plane arrived at JFK at 6am. I asked for a wheelchair and this made it much easier. I hope never to go through JFK again, but, if necessary, I wouldn’t hesitate to get a wheelchair again. My next plane (to Pittsburgh) was supposed to leave at 2:59pm. I love these time designations; like they are meaningful. Anyway, I had already arranged to meet with Renee. We each took our respective subways and met in the middle of Queens where we found a pleasant Hispanic restaurant and had a second (and third) breakfast. After a couple of hours I returned to Kennedy and she went home.
I got to the airport to find my plane had been canceled. I was standing in line so long I finally asked for another wheelchair. American Airlines put me on a Delta flight scheduled for 7pm. The wheelchair lady (very nice, as was the other one) took me to the other terminal where I found that the plane they put me on had already been canceled. They put me on another one, but that also got canceled. This time I stood in line a long time only to find I would have to wait until Sunday to get on a plane. The alternative they offered was an 8am flight from JFK to Atlanta and then a flight to Pittsburgh that would arrive at 4:15pm Saturday. I couldn’t deal with it. I went to Renee’s apartment where I slept like a rock then got on a 9:50am Megabus and arrived in Pittsburgh at 5:30. I have another nasty story about my suitcase, but I finally got it.
Pictures to come.