Like many families, we planned a summer vacation this August. However, there were several times before the first day of our vacation was over when my wife and I just weren’t sure it was meant to be.
We decided to rent an apartment in Tzefat and use it as a base for day trips. We had lots of destinations in mind including Hemat Gader, the natural hot springs spa and alligator reserve; rafting down the Jordan River; a chocolate factory with hands-on make-your-own chocolate at Israel’s first planned kibbutz, Deganya Bet; the grottoes at Rosh Ha Nikra; biking around the Hulda nature reserve; exploring Nimrod’s Castle; hiking along the Banyas waterfalls and more!
We planned on leaving early Sunday morning, but two weeks before our date of departure my youngest son had had a severe asthma attack. Since he had had one before, we had medicine and an inhalator on hand and at three in the morning administered it to him. When he finished, he was no longer gasping for air, but still wheezing. We called our family’s medical clinic which has a round-the-clock beeper service and a doctor on call who makes house calls. The doctor listened to our six-year-old’s breathing on the phone and sent us to an urgent care clinic where they gave our son a stronger drug. The next day we visited our doctor who said that our son had a virus which had brought on asthma, vomiting and a low grade fever. He should take it easy, continue with our inhalator and come back if the wheezing continues. He was pretty optimistic we could still take our trip.
However the next week our son continued to wheeze. After a visit to the doctor, he was diagnosed with pneumonia. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and still thought we should not stay home from our trip the next week, but our son should take it easy for the next few days.
That week, I also discovered that the glass of my new Macbook Pro laptop computer was cracked. There are no Apple stores in Israel, although iDigital, Apple’s exclusive importer, has opened several similar stores. However, none to date are in Jerusalem. This meant that to have my laptop repaired, I either had to send it by messenger to the main service center or go to a store in Tel Aviv.
While the quickest way to reach our vacation destination is to drive up the Jordan Valley along the eastern border of Israel, I decided to go west by way of Tel Aviv so that we could drop off my computer.
Sunday morning we thought we would get an early start. However, our son was still coughing. We took him for a check at the doctor into our clinic’s walk-in hours as soon as they opened at 7:30 and were assured everything was ok. His lungs were clear and the coughing would be the last symptom to leave him. We were relieved. So with the inhalator packed just in case, we loaded up the car, including the broken laptop to be dropped off on the way.
We arrived at the iDigital store in the upscale Ramat Aviv Mall, making good time before most of the vacationers heading up north were on the road, only to discover that we had to book an appointment in advance and the next one wasn’t available for two hours. My wife and I debated what to do. I felt guilty for delaying our vacation which was already being postponed because of my computer.
Having experience with having Macs fixed in Israel previously, I asked if I could just go to the main service center. The salesperson was happy to oblige and gave me detailed directions to the industrial zone of Petach Tikva, a few towns over. It took less than an hour to get there, and only a few minutes to drop off the computer for repair. Instead of waiting for over two hours, we were on the highway heading north within an hour. After the third stop of the day, I felt we were finally on our way.
On the way north, we stopped at my favorite restaurant, a kosher, organic, free-range meat restaurant housed in a country farmhouse on a moshav south of Golani Junction. Makom B’Sejera features mallard, goose, lamb, fillet mignon, pigeon, pheasant, quail, veal, plus hummous, pasta and fish. They were very accommodating to our kids who ordered chicken nuggets, plain rice with mushrooms and plain chicken, and gnocchi with olive oil – and loved it! My kids, who usually live on french fries and Coca-cola on our vacations, commented that the food was amazingly good and good for you. They also loved the atmosphere of the old farmhouse with original farming tools and arms from the 19th century from when the Jewish Colonization Association purchased the land as an agricultural settlement and trained settlers there before they went to settle other kibbutzim and moshavim based on the ideology of avoda ivrit (Jewish labor) and equal rights for women in all aspects of society. Good food, ideology and history in a very friendly, welcoming, country atmosphere– my kind of place!
When we finally reached Zefat and parked the car for the night, I was glad to have arrived. We had stood in a lot of traffic and saw a major accident with a overturned vehicle. I was ready for bed, but it was not to be.
As we unloaded the car, the brake lights were still on. It may be surprising since I own a company that works with the Internet everyday, but I am not a very technical person. I know very little about cars. My wife and I debated what we should do thinking this vacation was just not meant to be.
Afraid that the battery would die, we called the road-side service from our insurance who told us that they would come, but we only got one service call for free. They suggested that no matter what, we have the car towed to a garage, but we might want to wait until the morning when the garage is open. That way if the battery dies overnight, we’ll be ok. They would even tow it to our garage in Jerusalem if we wanted (about 150 miles). When I asked how we would get home, they suggested a taxi. When I asked if they knew a local Toyota garage, they suggested I try Google. When I did, I found that Toyota has a 24 hour help line in Israel so I called.
Toyota’s off-hour service tried to be very helpful, and said that I could go to the garage in either Kiryat Shmona or Tiberias, but only in the morning. By this time it was almost 11:00 pm.
The road-side assistance called just as I decided to cancel. An older man consoled me on the other end of the phone. With a Russian accent, he said he might be able to take care of it on the spot and would be with me within half an hour.
I walked into our room close to midnight and told my wife everything was ok. We had already formed a contingency plan of spending a day in Tiberias figuring our car would be at the garage all day.
“What happened?” she asked.
“It was a piece of dirt stuck in the unit. It happens sometimes. I just pressed on the brakes hard, and the light went off,” repeating what the mechanic had told me.
Despite a few detours, we were ready to start our vacation. My son slept through the night without coughing and the car started in the morning.