We’re going to the Zoo… [to cheer up the animals] how about you?

Winter is truly here, and its actually quite cold for Israel. Our mould continues to grow. All our bedrooms have black walls, our furniture is destroyed and the place stinks. Its now even turning up downstairs, creeping through the corners. Mould is not considered a health hazard here apparently so their aint nowt we can do. Husband basically spends his life cleaning, containing and preventing the stuff. It still grows.

Anyhow, in honour of Jojo’s 3rd Birthday we threw him a little teaparty, and decided to take him on an outing [he chose a tiyul over a big birthday party]. Our plan to go to “Balagan” [big kiddy paradise, not sure exactly what it has but sounds a bit like Funhouse, only without Pat Sharp and a camera crew] was foiled, since its closed til 3pm. Of course, in Israel they assume any toddler will be in Gan before that time. Where else would they be??!

So instead we took him off to Chai Park – the Zoo in Kiryat Motzkin. I read a decent review on another blog saying it’s a lot nicer than you might think, and I have to agree it was a nice Zoo. Except when we got there it started raining. After 20 minutes hiding in the succah of a deserted restaurant with 3 chickens and a cat, we ventured out. It wasn’t so cold, after a while the sun came out and it was actually a fairly nice day. Despite that we still had the place to ourselves. Israeli children, as a friend explained to me, melt in the rain. A few little showers, a temperature drop below 16 degrees, and nobody ventures out. Its hilarious. The same people think nothing of taking their kids out in the middle of the day, with 40 degree scorching [dangerous] heat.

I have always been of the opinion that it’s good to take kids out in all weathers. After all, if they have the appropriate clothing, what can be the harm? How else can they connect with nature, the realities of the our planet? Not by sitting inside with the heating on, [well not in our house anyway, it doesnt work]. We saw a David Attenborough program recently about tiny communities in the northern most parts of Greenland, and how they have to sew their kids into their gloves for half the year to prevent frostbite. In view of that I think our kids can manage a few hours walking around in temperatures averaging 13 degrees.

The animals seemed thrilled to see us. Probably because besides one other israeli family, we were the only people visiting the place. We saw a few zoo staff who looked at us oddly, one lady even commented “kol hakavod” – [can you imagine being congratulated for being outside on a typical english day?!? Israel really is an alternate universe.] The camels especially seemed happy to have some company, as did the slightly lonely looking giraffes and the very curious goats. One monkey got so excited at seeing guests he bit Jojo on the ear. I gave him a big telling off [no, seriously, I did. Who does he think he is drawing blood from my precious angel?]. The first aid woman assured me it wasn’t dangerous, the monkeys are all immunnised apparently. So far Jojo has not turned green and started frothing at the mouth so we are not too concerned. Still, if you do go to Chai Park, dont get to close to the little orange monkeys in the covered cage, they are a bit, er, bitey. [Ref; Sean of the Dead, in case you were wondering].

Despite the not-perfect weather, the kids had a whale of a time, jumping in puddles and chasing chickens. Yaroni [age 16 months] was particularly hilarious, and I look forward to screening my 3 minute video of him befriending the chickens at his barmitzvah. He was a total riot. We think he will be the family comedian. He already seems to have a sense of comic timing.

As the grandparents were over for Jojo’s birthday, we decided to make a run for it and went off to see a movie [ooh our second one since aliyah 18 months ago!] Husband chose War Horse. As I make a point of not researching films before I see them, I was pleasantly surprised he had chosen something meaningful [with so few opportunities to see films, I have no desire to see forgettable trash]. I laughed and cried throughout most of the 2.5 hours. Speilberg once again recreates the past, and shows us an angle we may not have considered. On the way home we had our usual post-good-film argument where I tell Husband he has NO SOUL because he rarely laughs, and never cries, in any film;

“But its not real” he tells me “they are actors”
ME: “But it could have happened that way, people died, we know that some amazing things did happen…”

etc etc. You get the drift. [What can I say I am emotional and he likes to think he is rational! Opposites attract so they say.] But what really struck me was the reaction of the Israelis around me. We were watching a powerful film about the futility of war, in a wartorn country with a very active army [most of the people in the room would most likely have some current connection with a soldier] and yet nobody else was crying! They all dash out, seemingly unmoved, as soon as the first credit appears. As someone who always stays til the very end [unless its a truly trashy film] I was shocked. They say Israelis are tough, resilient, copers, but sometimes I wonder if they are getting a bit too strong. Surely it would have struck a chord?

Or perhaps they all missed the point and thought it was a film about a horse. Thats what Husband told me before we set off!

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