The 18 hours it took to get to Dublin, Ireland were not too painful. The kids were very excited to change into their PJs and sleep on the plane. They slept, but we did not, of course. Maybe two hours. But I’d rather be awake with them asleep than awake with the kids not sleeping. Once we got to our hotel room everyone fell asleep for a few hours and then we were awake at 1 am watching the Olympics for a few hours, and the slept until 1 pm! It’s been hard adjusting to the time change and I’m sure that by the time we finally do it will be time to go home and start all over.
We had a grand time in Dublin, as the Irish would say. Siig drank enough Guinness for the four of us. We met our requisite Irish drunk in a pub who took a liking to our family and kept trying to buy the kids coffee and Siig pints of Guinness and shots of whiskey, but for the life of him he could not remember the kids’ names and kept asking over and over again. He tried to convince Kaiden that he was the best skier in the world because he was fresh off a trip to the Austrian Alps, but I don’t think he realized he was talking to a family that lives in ski country and knows several Olympians. We finally had to ditch the guy.
My other favorite moment was on our train ride to the West coast to Gallway. The computerized announcement kept saying “Thank you for riding Neither Here Nor There,” or at least that’s what I heard. What a funny name for a train line! Doesn’t do much in the way of confidence that the train will arrive at the destination. OK, the name was really something like “Irish Train” in Gaelic, but “Neither Here Nor There” has a much nicer ring to it.
We have now been in Jerusalem for the past two days visiting my family, but the plane ride here was not uneventful. The minute we arrived at our gate in the Paris airport, I could tell we were in for trouble. If you have ever been to Israel, you know that Israelis are not the most polite bunch. They tend to push and shove to get what they want – maybe it’s all those centuries of being pushed around by others or the result of living in a small country with not enough elbow room (Israel is the size of Rhode Island). The line to board the plane was chaos, with families jostling to get in front of us and cutting in line. Do they think cutting will get them to the Holy Land any faster? It was so bad we actually got separated from the kids and no one would let them through. Luckily, they are small and were able to duck under everyone’s legs to catch up to us.
But really what took the cake was that we ended up sitting in the middle of a family of 12 – parents, six kids, and two sets of grandparents who basically thought they were on their own private airplane with no one else around. Sitting on the aisle seat, the kids would try to squeeze past me without so much as a word in my direction or an excuse me. And for some reason, our row became a bottle neck for the entire plane, with everyone stopping by my seat to chat and pass carts and swap children. The phrase ‘highly annoyed’ would not even come close to describing my feelings. Finally, I had an excuse to tell off the kids next to me in French when an older couple in front of us got so annoyed from the brats kicking their seats that they asked me to translate from English to French “Stop fucking kicking my seat or I’ll beat the living crap out of you.” Or something like that.
Of course, as usual, Siig got stopped in the Tel Aviv airport for no reason. He just looks suspicious in that cowboy hat and beard and with his overly cheery demeanor. We were just walking into the airport, not even at passport control yet, when a woman pulled Siig aside. “Passport, please.” I handed her our passports. “Why are you here?” To visit family, I told her. “What are their names?” I gave her my father’s name and stopped. Did she want me to list all the names of my 50 cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.? She seemed satisfied. “How long are you staying?” 8 days. She took one last look at Siig and let us go.
If any of you have ever been through airport security in Israel, you would understand how burly it is. My sister Julie – who is blond with a little ski-jump nose – and I were leaving for Israel once from the Frankfurt airport and Israeli security there wanted to know if why, if we were sisters, we didn’t look alike. Can you imagine TSA back in the States asking a question like that? Most of them would not even have the brains to notice something like that anyways. But you never, NEVER, fuck with Israeli security. Luckily, I have pounded this enough times through Siig’s head that he behaved himself in the airport, which goes against every bone in his rebellious body but he knows I wouldn’t bail him out of Israeli jail if he did something stupid.
Kaiden is also starting to wonder why there is so much “God” stuff everywhere. After us driving into him that we don’t believe all the “God stuff” the teachers at the Baptist after-school program he goes to tells him, he’s starting to question why now we are dragging him to a hundred churches and cathedrals in Ireland. And we haven’t even taken him yet to the Old City in Jerusalem. I think we have a budding atheist on our hands.
But before we visit the Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Via de la Rosa and everywhere Jesus sat, peed or ate, we are going to the Biblical Zoo tomorrow. I think I’ll just blend the cultures of the two countries we are visiting and tell Kaiden: “For fuck’s sake, man, God is everywhere.”