It's been a wonderful yet exhausting time in Petah Tikva. Last night we stayed up late talking with my cousin Aviyam (who will eternally be Yami to me, much to his chagrin I am sure) and his girlfriend Ifat. Fun time, but didn't get to sleep until midnight. I thought it was going to be an easy day with my other cousin Galit and her family. A "nature walk" in the Kelah-Gallim nature reserve, then a late lunch at a restaurant in Haifa. Sounds lovely, right? It certainly started out that way. Weather was lovely. The walk was in the valley, down hill mostly. That was what began to give me a weird feeling... if you go down, you have to go up! The walk ended up taking about five hours, and the last 25 % was brutal. I can't even come up with a word that seems appropriate for how punishing it was- "torturous" even minimizes the experience. There were times when I thought literally I couldn't go on. Rock climbing (both up and down, although the down parts weren't so bad), heat, sun, twisted ankles and knees, and muscles that had never seen activity like this, all combined to leave me praying (literally!) that I didn't end up like one of those marathoners that collapses and soils themselves, completely unable to go on.
Looking back at the trail, I'm pretty sure we walked the entire valley!
This look of glee on my face is because I don't have to move my legs for at leat twenty minutes. My cousin's husband went to get our car and drive it back to us.
Afterwards we went to dinner at Douzan, an Arab restaurant in Haifa. I immediately ordered a coffee, because I thought I was gonna pass out in my fattoush (that's a salad with toasted pita for you with the funny minds). Food has rarely tasted this good- maybe because I was so glad I didn't have to be airlifted out of the valley.
We drove back amid the classic Saturday night Israeli traffic, and because we were SO late we didn't even get a chance to shower before we went to Yaffa's house. Yaffa is my uncle Ilan's sister, so even though we're only related by marriage, I see her every time I come to Israel (well, we missed her last time, and I really regret it). So I haven't seen her in about twenty years, and the first thing she says to me upon opening the door, is how much I look like my mother. Wow, right to the heart, that one.
It was a wonderful visit. A great ending to a really hard day. The only pain that remained was the one in my right ankle- it's remarkable how emotional high can heal physical low.