Thursday, 30 March 2017

Sunday - Farewell to our Tour ... We are in the Army Now!

1st Day Sunday- We're in the Army Now!

Farewell Transfer… We took a shuttle to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and met up with Sar-El group at 9:00 am

There were about 60 volunteers and we were sorted and sent to three different army bases in the South. We were assigned to the one in the middle south.

Every group was assigned to a "madricha". Ours was a very cute little French girl, Salome, all of 22 - and her 19 year old assistant, Anna. There were 13 of us - 5 women and 8 men.

We boarded a very comfortable army bus and enjoyed the relaxing hour and a half ride to our base.

The women and men have separate sleeping quarters and we were assigned to our rooms. Gail had two room mates and Bernie had three.

The rooms were very spartan, with four bunk beds, but very clean. Each bunk had two blankets, a sheet, pillow and a towel. We were told this was a "luxurious" base as all the rest didn't even have pillows or sheets & towels. We unpacked our belonging and stored them in a tiny locker and hung our jackets on nails on the side.

After a wonderful welcome lunch of chicken, potatoes veggies and salads, we headed out to the square to await instructions.

The uniforms arrived, the men had first pick. Bernie looked like an army "fashionista" with two shirts, one short sleeved and one long, nice pants, and a "dog-tag". My uniform will arrive tomorrow.

We all went for a long nap and leisure time until dinner at 6:30 pm. Dinner was light, just hard boiled eggs, salads, cheese, bread and yogurt. The main meal of the day on the army base is lunch.

After dinner we had "an activity" at 7 pm in our "club-house". We each received a Sar-el t-shirt, hat, sleeping mask and earplugs. Then our "Madricha" explained the rules of the base and our work schedule. It was close to 9:00 by the time finished and fell into an exhausted sleep.

Well, I guess "we're in the army now!"

2nd Day - Monday:

Up at 7:30 am and breakfast at 8:00 am.

Flag raising is at 8:30 every morning in the parade square. We tucked in our army shirts, formed nice even rows, raised the flag, and sang "Hatikvah".

Today was very special ... we got our Sar-El "Israeli Army ribbons" put on our shoulder epaulets by our "madricha's". Everyone clapped and cheered as each person was inducted.

Now on to work! We toured the facilty by foot. We are stationed on a supply base. As we went by each "hangar" two of us were assigned a job and went in to work. Bernie and I were assigned to sorting tools, wrenches and ratchets. We had sort, clean and bag them.

This first day was to just sort about 30 different shapes and sizes from a giant bin. We really needed our bi-focals to make sure we didn't mess up!


We had a great coffee break and danced with some civilian women who were also working with us. They had a radio that played Israeli music. What a great way to relax for few minutes!

We went back to the mess hall for a large pasta lunch, nap and back to work. We finished the day at 4:00 pm. Then had a shower, dinner and an "activity" in our clubhouse. We told a bit ourselves to each other, and found out about the lives of our "madricha's". Then we learned about the different colour berets of the Israeli army. Then off to bed!

2nd Day - Tuesday:

A repeat of yesterday ... but this time we "cleaned" our sorted tools with oil and a rag. Very time consuming, as we had to clean every crevice. Pretty rewarding after they are all sorted, shiny & clean!

Activity tonite was a "bingo game" after we learned Hebrew numbers and some Hebrew. It was a lot fun!

We also found out that the "girls" has arranged for us to go off-base for dinner & a mivie at a near-by mall. Really looking forward to that!

3rd Day - Wednesday:

Finally, we bagged and labelled our tools ... it took all day, but we are done!

We had a fire drill today and had to go to the bomb shelter, which was a round re-inforced concrete "tube" behind the warehouse. We were there for 15 minutes until they sounded the "all clear".

We went off base, and enjoyed pizza and falafel for dinner. Six of us watched "Beauty & the Beast" ... in English with Hebrew subtitles.

A great evening! We get to go to Tel Aviv tomorrow morning for a long weekend tomorrow and return Sunday.

4th Day - Thursday ... Tel Aviv:

Bernie found us a B&B until Sunday am. We walked around King George Street, saw the shuks, shops, stopped for a falafel and saw the Dizengof mall. We scouted out a kosher place to pick up dinner for Shabbat tomorrow.


5th Day - Friday:

Great B&B. Had an expresso in our room and out for many walks and to get dinner for tonite! We found a wonderful Kosher Persian food stall in the mall and got enough food for all of Shabbat.

Surrounded by daycares. Its a main stream business in Israel. Our B&B guy Sammy, owns two. He offered us to come in the afternoon to read a story in English to his older group of five year olds when we stay with him at his place at the end of our trip. His son is in that English class.

What a wonderful place he found us for the weekend, just four blocks from his place right in the middle of all the action!

Itzhak Perlman is conducting the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with guest violinist Hya Gringolts. They are playing a matinee today just down the street at The Charles Bronfman Concert Hall. Bernie surprized me with tickets to a repeat performance after Shabbat ... what a special treat!

Shabbat Shalom :)

Gail & Bernie

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