If you're familiar with the concept of a pilot trip – we did one (more about that, B'ezrat Hashem, in another post). But unfortunately carting around a toddler and a baby didn't turn out to be conducive to deciding on our community. So we did another one. Ok, only my husband went on the trip. And I stayed home to take care of three kids while pregnant while vicariously imaging what it was like to be there.
So that night, after receiving a Skype message from my husband that he landed safely, I took the opportunity to get some sleep.
Waking up to reality. Welcome to Israel?
At about 6am I looked at my phone...I had missed some messages from my husband. And they went something like this:
"All the lights in my car are flashing. The car is shutting off."
"It's about 40 degrees outside!"
"My phone is almost out of power."
"I'm in the middle of nowhere and I don't know where I am."
Still groggy but mildly coherent I decided to put my "remote navigator" hat on and try to help. Of course panic was an option. But instead, I decided to take this as one of our many tests from Hashem. Keep calm and have Emunah.
Step 1: We got the Power
After a few questions we were able to determine that my husband was located just South of Tiberias. He was only minutes away from the first Zimmer he would be staying at. Both of us messaged the nice lady who owned the nearby Air BnB cabin in the woods and she was able to come pick him up. Then he could charge his phone and laptop – immediate crisis adverted.
Step 2: Dude, where's my Car?
I've heard that things in Israel don't always work on North American standards. If I had to compare our car rental experience to a level of service...it would be like guessing where to sit in a restaurant, tracking down clean cutlery from the serving cart, flagging down a server while being told repeatedly they will be there soon, receiving the wrong order, and finally getting the food but it's cold.
So while the rental car broke down on day one of service – getting a replacement car was like watching a pot boil. The car rental company did have a customer service number, but apparently it was some Arab holiday and so nobody could help for several hours. Since it was one of those "don't call us, we'll call you" scenarios, I tried contacting the head office of the rental company franchise...while taking care of three screaming kids during their morning routine. I don't know if that call or the resulting online inquiry helped but eventually the driver did contact my husband. Apparently he able to use WhatsApp to find my husband's location and eventually dropped off a replacement car. It was better than the first only in that it actually drove. No high standards here: it was an older car that looked like may have been used for some wild off-roading. But, it didn't break down.
Step 3: Out of the Woods.
The cabin in the woods was quaint, clean and relaxing. Or so I'm told. One problem though – no food. I was surprised to find out that Kosher food in Israel isn't as simple as what we were used to. From what I've learned there are there are two general "levels" of kosher: Rabbanut and Mehadrin. I'm probably oversimplifying, or maybe the variances are kind of over-complicated, but it requires some extra effort to find a kosher...enough place to eat.
So of course, I volunteered to help jet lagged husband find food. After a few internet searches and providing remote navigation he was able to find some pizza in Tiberias. Unfortunately, I did manage to lead him though one of Israel's crazy sharp- turn-you're-about-to-fly-off-a-cliff mountain roads in the dark.
Yes, I forgot about those from our last trip. But Baruch Hashem, he was safe and well fed. Success!
Some Lessons Learned:
Beware car rentals – if something seems off don't assume it's safe. Instead, push to get a different car
When driving in a remote location it's a good idea to carry an emergency power source or extra power pack for your phone
Plan for something not to work, then if it does you can be pleasantly surprised
Expect to be tested by Hashem and rely on Miracles
A special thanks to Nilie and Arnie of Yavne'el B & B for offering a taxi driver recommendation in case the replacement car didn't show. Maybe next time we can finally stay in Yavne'el.