Saturday, October 5, 2013

Things That I Miss

As expats living in a strange country, there are a lot of things that I miss. We are lucky that we live in a country that is influenced by American culture. But there are things that I just can't find or do that I really miss. (No particular order)

  1. Food items. There are few food items that we just can not find here nor anything close to it. A few things we have found substitutes for. But here are a few of our favorite things that are missing from Israel.
    1. Graham Crackers. I grew up on these. My daughter grew up on these. These were a staple in our house hold. We were never with out graham crackers. We found a biscuits that are some what similar in filling the need to munch on something in the mornings. But it's not the same.
    2. Ritz Crackers. The buttery, flaky, saltiness of Ritz crackers can not be replicated. 
    3. Sun Butter. Israel isn't big on Peanut Butter (just peanut flavor snacks and candies). However, you CAN find peanut butter in any store. Jiff typically. But to find a peanut butter alternative for my kids who have nut allergies. Sigh. Can't be found.
    4. Lindsay Black Olives. Yes. you read that right. You can not find California style black olives in Israel. Any other style of olive, but not the salty briney Black Olive. Oh, how I miss thee. My kids have been known to pop open  a can and eat the entire thing. 
    5. Jack In The Box. However, we are all better for this. But sometimes I really miss being out and about with the kids and running to JITB for some chicken strips and fries. 
  2. English Speaking People Over The Age Of 18. Living in an Arab area, it's very rare to find someone over the age of 18 who speaks English well enough to hold a conversation. And lets be honest. How much can a 39 year old talk about with a 17 year old. It's nice when we are at family gatherings. You will more than likely find me hanging out with the teenagers. In Jewish area's it's much more common, but how often do I get there? 
  3. I would say Target and Walmart. But I have learned a lot by not having access to them. My spending spree's are extremely rare and limited. (when the register reads 450 shekels I still panic thinking it's dollars. ($125)) Big Box stores are really destructive to mom and pop shops that are the heart of Israel. They promote consumerism and the need to BUY BUY BUY. When I have to go to 5 different stores to get what I need, it really cuts the fun out of shopping, and you get done much faster.
  4. THRIFT STORES!!! Growing up we didn't have a lot of money. Most of the time I really didn't know it. I thought everyone shopped at thrift stores or garage sales. In Arab area's its just not done. Things are used until they are DONE. Old clothes typically get donated to the "poor" or to the West Bank. I gag every time I have to pay full price for something that I KNOW I can get for 30-50% of the price at the thrift store. Example. I am looking for a cookie sheet. Apparently these are NOT common here. I checked 6 stores in the area for one. ONE store had them. $40 for one. $40!!! Sorry, I don't need it THAT badly. And I don't want to pay $35 for a pair of jeans for Zane. I did and with in 3 weeks they had a hole in the knee.
  5. English Book stores and Libraries. Apparently there are 2 English book stores in Tel Aviv. But it's not exactly convenient for us to take an evening trip into Tel Aviv. It's about 90 minutes away and finding parking isn't that easy. Plus Books in English are sooo overpriced. You can pay up to $20 for a paperback. 
  6. Going to the Movies. Movie theaters are few and far between here. They do exist, but you have to go to a Jewish town to watch. Trying to navigate the website to figure out which theater and the times and days they are open/showing the movie that is NOT dubbed is tricky. Forget kids movies. They are all dubbed in Hebrew. 
  7. American TV Programs. We have access to about 5-6 English TV channels. We get a few TV shoes, mostly CSI, a few Disney shows and lots of movies. But I miss HGTV, TLC, etc.
  8. Taking Long Walks in Our Neighborhood. In general if you want to take a long walk here, you have to go over to where the freeway entrance is. It's the ONLY well maintained sidewalk area where you can walk for a few miles with out tripping over garbage, over grown weeds or being obligated to stop in for tea at everyone's house that you pass by. But how safe is that? And how inconvenient! I have to drive 10-15 minutes to get there. I just want to walk out my door and take a walk for Pete's sake! 
  9. Neighborhood Parks. One thing that is severely lacking in Arab cities are parks for kids. Up until a few years ago, Baqa did not have a public park. It now has one, but it doesn't have any of the typical kid friendly equipment found in American or Canadian parks. I can go to a Kibbutz, or Herzilya or Tel Aviv to find a great park. But once again, nothing in the area. It has to be a half a day trip to go to one of the other cities to have the kids play.
  10. Walking Into Any Store and Being Able to Read ALL the Labels. I know this is to be expected. Hello, you are living in a different country! Just something I miss. 
  11. Play Group. I really miss taking Zane to the Ontario Early Years Centre.  
  12. Having a pet. I miss our Daisy girl. My parents are taking really good care of her. But sometimes I miss the love of a pet. We currently have a feral cat that has adopted us. She is helping bridge the gap. 
  13. Church. You would assume that living in Israel there would be thousands of churches for me to go to. nope. No churches. Unless I go to Nazereth, or into Tel Aviv. But even those are not a church I would be comfortable going too. They are much more Orthodox that I am used too. 
  14. My Parents and Family I don't have a big family. It's basically my parents, my brother and his family. Especially compared to my husband, who is related to nearly everyone here. 
  15. Friends. I had just made some really good friends in Canada when we left. I really miss having a friend to talk to, to complain too and to laugh with. Husband. I love you, but you are not a female. It's NOT the same.
  16. Christmas. I really really really miss the spirit of Christmas that you feel as December 25th approaches. The malls aren't decorated with Christmas Tree's. There are no Santa's hanging out on the corners ringing bells. No Christmas music on the radio's just after Halloween. No chill in the air with the promise of snow. Do stores fill with decorations to buy. No wrapping paper. No hot chocolate to sip. No one to get excited about decorating Christmas cookies with (except my daughter!) No Christmas tree's propped up against the sides of grocery stores. Last Christmas I made a Christmas tree out of  green glitter paper. This year we have a car and are hoping our trip to Nazareth will produce a tree. 
  17. Watching Snow Fall. I swear. There is nothing more peaceful that sitting in front of a large window watching the snow fall. 

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