Thursday, January 1, 2015

Living in Ashkelon

Ashkelon is a little city in Israel just off the Mediterranean coast where we had rented an apartment. It lies some 10 km from the Gaza border. It is cheap to park your yacht there and so, people who own yachts stop in Ashkelon, and then spend their time traveling through Israel.

Mihai being cold
The giraffe cannot keep its head up
In the direction of the Gaza border, there are two towers that look like nuclear power plants, but they are actually coal based with a cooling system that uses sea water.

Ashkelon has ruins from the neolithic period, which contain the remains from many fire-places but only one wall. This we took to mean that the weather was always so nice that people did not need to build houses back then.

Since buried objects last so long in Israel, we were tempted to bury something to test how we find it on return. We decided against it since it is an area where people sometimes worry about bombs, and we did not want to look suspect by burying random jars into the ground. Burying stuff at night made me think of Tom Sawyer & Huck with warts carrying a dead cat - only they were not 30+ years old in the story. There is also Bridget Jones' diaries, but there she has a Mr. Darcy-extremely capable and good looking guy - to get her out of trouble, and we had had enough trouble already.

Beyond offices of interesting people, I saw Israel's various highways and parking lots. The highways were well built. The country felt like California with Deutsche-Bahn trains. All trains in Israel were made in Germany - they even had the same color as in Germany and the architecture of the train stations was similar as well. 

Ashkelon parking lot
Some of the parking lots had interesting topology. One was below sea level and had water in it. Another had similar uneven ground, and was on a hill. It was fun to see how people drive their cars and park with a lot less care than in other parts of the world. My theory is that because the army is mandatory in Israel for both men and women, they get used to driving tanks and flying planes. So, when they have a personal car, they drive it the same way as they drove their tanks. 

There are plenty of stray cats in Israel, and some stray dogs. Along the corridors of the Weizmann Institute there is an array of happy looking cats. I was glad for their company. Some of the cats must have been female and un-spayed and so the female line was not that poorly represented after all.  I was told that people let them come in because the cats are fast enough to catch vipers and other poisonous snakes without being poisoned. Cats are not immune to the venom. Slowing them down by feeding them dry cat food, which retains water and makes them fat, or by tying a bell around their necks like in the US or Western Europe could be cat-lethal in Israel if this story is true. I was glad I did not see any poisonous snakes in my office or any where else I stepped for that matter.

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