On Thursday, we performed in Rishon Lezion just outside of Tel Aviv. The theater was a large marble complex with extensive backstage facilities including a separate studio to take class and spacious dressing rooms for everyone. We warmed up, did a quick rehearsal and then had a few hours for dinner before the show. The performance went really well, even though the audience was slightly more subdued compared to the raucous atmosphere of the Karmiel Dance Festival. It felt good to know we'd been good ambassadors for the United States. Everyone was in a jovial mood once the pressures of performing were off and a spontaneous sing-along broke out in the bus back to the hotel.
Friday was a free day. Several day trips had been set up, one to the town of Nazareth, another to a winery north of Acre. My husband and I decided to take it easy and enjoy the beach at the hotel. We took a stroll over to a nearby a cafe for brunch. A really nice brick walkway had been built through newly planted gardens of flowering desert plants and palms—Israel is the only developed country in the world to end the 20th century with more trees than it had at the outset. The bougenvelia was blooming everywhere along our walk and the beach seemed busier than usual with the weekend crowd arriving to enjoy some relaxation before the shabbat began at sundown. Many of the smaller shops were dark already.
I don't think there has been a meal here that hasn't been a fantastic feast for senses. I love the style of eating in Israel: Many small mezze plates and samplers of condiments and sauces accompany the meals. So many different flavors and textures to try! Even breakfast has olives, tuna, tomato chutney and pesto set out with our omelets.
At the beach we fell into conversation with an Israeli who seemed anxious to hear how we enjoyed his country. When he bid us farewell, he touched both hands to his heart and then laid them, open, towards us with a humble bow of his head, asking us to spread the word back home what a good time we had had here. We also ran into two younger Israelis with a whitewater kayak out playing in the surf. My husband and I had taken up the sport a few years ago when we moved to Pittsburgh so we whiled away a few hours teaching them how to roll their kayak, for which they were very appreciative. We were struck by how open and trusting they were even though we'd just met. Who knows if I will ever return to Israel but the experience has been one I will never forget.