with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Arriving in Tulsa – Start of a new life?

We made all the connections for our flight with ease, enjoying the new Tel Aviv airport for only the 20 minutes it took to get on the airplane. It’s a lovely airport, though. Matches much of the airports we’ve visited, so it doesn’t look any different. Somehow I thought it would “look” more Israeli, a little Jewish, a little Holy Land, posters of Arafat and Sharon…something symbolic. But it was sterile and plain. Maybe they will add more as time goes by. Since it is four years past its completion date, its enough that it functions.

We did spend too much time at the VAT Refund desk. After 5 years of coming in and out of the country and getting our VAT (taxes) back on purchases over USD$100, the new VAT officials have RULES. For a country that doesn’t efforce 80% of the rules they currently have, it was strange to be ordered about by these young girls barely out of the army (or maybe serving time during their army posting). They old rules that are new to Israel travelers are that you must 1) bring your purchases to the airport and on the plane with you as proof of purchase, 2) or show your purchases to someone somewhere before putting them in your bag to go through security and check-in and have them write a note saying they saw the stuff, 3) and any and all jewelry, glasses, contact lenses, pharmacueticals, and really expensive stuff must be with you to show to the clerks before you can get the VAT back. They are fanatical about the jewelry and high ticket stuff. They wanted to know where my eyeglasses were. I told them “on my face.” Odd that they would pick now to get maniacal about this stuff after not being so wacko about it before. And strange that after years of seeing “older” folks with gray hair and accountant looks, it is now clerked by young femals with a uniform white shirt and dark pants, and the shirts are too small with tons of cleavage and gapping buttons and the pants are worn below the top of the pubic hair line. This is the fashion right now in Israel, but it is strange to see on the official clerks. Security females also wore the same look. Disconcerting, to say the least.

The lines were still long with too few clerks and ticket agents and security checkers. I asked our ticket agent how she liked the new airport – if it was easier. She said that the computerized everything was nicer but actually made for more work (such is life with a computer – it is supposed to make your life easier but it feels like more work) and that everyone was complaining that they had to walk too far. As we raced through the airport to our gate (typical), even after arriving over 4 hours ahead of time, the last ones on board, I think Israelis are getting off easy. The new Ben Gurion Airport is smaller than most and definitely much shorter walks than most.

The biggest change is the fact that the airplanes pull up to the ramp instead of having to ride a bus to the plane and back. The least change is the fact that Israelis are Israelis and when it comes to their addiction of cigarettes, even though there are constant announcements that “smoking is prohibited”, it is a toxic cloud of blue fog.

I have a huge bone to pick with all airports and officials who make the signs and such. Why say “smoking is prohibited” when “this is a no smoking (or smoke free) airport. Do not smoke in the airport, period, or we will rip out your lungs and tie them around your head with a pink bow” is much easier to understand and carries more “weight”. Instead of saying “no parking” they say “Parking enforcement is in place. It is prohibited to park.” Say “park here and we will tow your car to Bagdad and you can watch it blow up on CNN.”

Anyway, I’ll have more on those rants later.

The flight was boring, even with all the stops and the races through the airports. Trust me, the race from one end of the airport to the other to catch our connecting flight in Amsterdam was five times the distance for the longest jog at Ben Gurion. Kohav did great, pooping on command. With her tummy problems, we only had one small poop accident but it was quickly cleaned up. I knew she had to go but we were racing to the plane and the last ones on so we had to wait until way after take off to get her into the potty. My mistake.

I slept through most of the flight, watching only one movie, “I, Robot” censored and edited but okay. I didn’t find much hopeful about it, so I see why it didn’t do well at the box office. The main character’s angst against robots wasn’t clear until too late in the movie. He just looked like a beast until we learned the justification, and then he still looked like a beast.

Brent didn’t sleep through much of it so he was pretty wasted.

His parents were waiting for us and thrilled to have us arrive. Watching our flight via the Internet is now a way of life for traveling family and friends.

Unfortunately for me, the laryngitis turned into strep and I’m sick as a dog. Finally had to go to an emergency clinic and pay way too much to get a perscript for antibiotics. I’ll be better in a couple of days but I feel like something dragged through the streets and jumped on. Sleeping most of the time.

We’ve had some trouble getting the license tags for the truck and trailer. You have to show proof of insurance, and if the vehicle hasn’t been licensed recently, they give you all kinds of grief and require justification for your pains and sufferings of living overseas and not wanting to continue to support local and federal US governments when the country you are living in takes almost 50% of everything you make FIRST. Same with our insurance. Luckily, the insurance agent has known Brent since practically birth and is a long time family friend. He jumped through all the hoops for us to testify on our behalf that we are good people and why should we suffer and have to pay more because we were living overseas? I know the military gets away with it through their military association, but what a pain for the normal folk.

So we got that done yesterday and will put the new tags on the truck and trailer this morning, when the rest of the family wakes up. It was a late night of visiting with family and the kids, though I was in bed by seven.

We will be taking the stuff out of the trailer and putting it in the storage room we rented at the same storage place we have the trailer, cleaning out the trailer, and then putting things back in over the next few days, as much as my poor worn body and spirit can handle. We are scheduled to move the trailer to a nearby campground next week, so we don’t have a lot of time. We still have to get new brakes and tires on everything…somewhere in the new few days.

Everything left in the back of the truck is totally sun damaged. We had to get new gas tanks (plastic) and hoses, filters, tire chains, everything. The hitch is a rusted mess. I thought we’d left a cover on the back of the truck but I guess we didn’t. Have one somewhere that came with the truck but who knows where it is now.

Inside, everything is coated with dust, dead flies, wasps, and spiders. Yep, we even killed the spiders. We had rat poison and bug stuff everywhere and that has to be removed and the areas totally cleaned up. Toshi’s cat door to his potty was in the “basement” of the trailer, but that has to be blocked off and a new one to the toliet set up for Kohav. She is having the time of her life racing around the house here, so shifting into the small trailer will be a major shift for her. But there are lots of little hiding places.

So everything has to be cleaned out, gutted, and scrubbed. It’s a lot of work. I’m hoping to get some family to help, but they seem to be busy with holiday stuff, so it is probably just Brent and I. We’ll see.

Well, that is the news so far. My nose is dripping, my throat is raw, my bones and muscles ache, my head pounds, and I’ve got a great case of diahreah from the new antibiotics. So I’m doing fine and should be back to normal soon. Very soon.

Miss everyone!

OH, and Arafat’s timing was great in dying just after we left. We’re worried about everyone back there, though. Amazing that we were there during such a cructial time in Israel’s short history.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

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