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The Spa at Hammat Gadar

The alligators and the mountainous setting were spectacular, but nothing was as awesome and amazing as the massage that Peter gave Marie.

Of course, getting to the spa by car (or going anyplace by car in Israel) is an adventure all by itself. Israeli drivers are notoriously aggressive. That’s why I let my wife—who is much more adventuresome than I am—do all of the driving. So far, we have had no mishaps on the road, despite the universal, unnerving honking and the anxiety caused when cars, vans, and even tour buses are swarming and swerving all around us. Pedestrians don’t fare much better. While I was taking my power walk yesterday, I saw a young woman get into her car and begin to speed on a street where further down three small children were kicking a soccer ball. I figured that she would slow down a little or perhaps even (God forbid) stop for a moment so that the children could safely get back to the sidewalk. But, maintaining her speed, she just tooted her horn, scattering the luckily unscathed children in her wake.

I guess Israelis drivers are in a great rush to get to their destinations. Yet waiting in line—whether in a mini-mart or a huge grocery store—Israelis are extremely patient. It makes no difference if the check-out person is male or female, old or young, stout or bony, monolingual or multilingual. All of them are super slow. But the Israeli shoppers don’t seem to mind if the clerks minutely examine every item that slides along the counter, as if it were an artifact at an archaeological dig. No one fidgets or complains when the clerks—in slow motion—lift their fingers to ring up an item and ever so gently nudge it to its resting place. But there is an upside to this Zen-like process: the customer, not the clerk, is required to bag the groceries. Otherwise, even the most stoic of the Israeli shoppers might have trouble enduring the already time consuming check-out routine.

I may curse the willfulness of the Israeli driver, but I respect the will power of the Israeli shopper.

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