Watch out for poop / by Susie Lubell

Bougainvillea

In Israel you have to keep an eye out for poop. Dog poop. Because it's everywhere. Israel is ahead of its short 63 years in terms of technology adoption, universal health care, drip irrigation, solar water heating and pita, but they are sorely behind the times in terms of cleaning up after dogs. Even in a small town like the one in which we live as of four days ago, there is still poop on the side walk. So when I walk with my kids to school, we have our heads to the pavement always scanning for poop.

Don't misunderstand. The dog shit situation has improved in recent years, to be sure. When I lived in Tel Aviv thirteen years ago I had to almost tiptoe to work because the sidewalks were so covered. Do pet owners here just think that dog shit is magical and just disappears at the end of the day? Or maybe special poop fairies come out at daybreak to turn the poop into milk and honey?

In our case watching out for poop is tough because where we live there is astonishing beauty around every corner and it's distracting. The old stone houses. The olive and fig trees. The cobalt blue sky. The bougainvillea. It seems to be the perfect metaphor for our own situation as newcomers. So far our settling in has been a great success. We have a car! We moved into our home! We bought a fridge! We have Internet service! We have a bank account! Our kids are in school! I found the place to buy my son his school uniforms thirty minutes away along a winding road in the middle of the Judean Mountains! Beautiful!

But then you hit a dump bump. Like today, for instance. Mr. Rosen left at 7am to go to the Social Security administration so that he and the kids would be registered as returning residents and therefore be entitled to health coverage. Getting to this stage required a mountain of proof that we are actually residing in Israel in general and in our little town specifically. To help us out Saba Rosen stood in line for us to deliver this paperwork yesterday afternoon only to be told that they don't handle these requests in afternoon hours and anyway they can't do it in that office because now that we've moved, we have to take care of it in the Jerusalem office. Hence, Mr. Rosen's early morning departure leaving me to get all three kids ready and out the door by 7:40 for our oldest son's first day of first grade. Turns out that the Social Security Administration is on strike today. And closed tomorrow. That's some seriously stinky poop on the sidewalk if you ask me.

Such is life here these last two weeks. All things moving along pretty well. And just when you've spotted an alarmingly beautiful patch of bougainvillea and you can't believe your luck, you look down to see you've stepped in the poop.

Thankfully there is more bougainvillea around the corner. In our case, Mr. Rosen was able to get to the customs office instead since they're not striking and now all systems are go to receive our container in a little more than a week, barring any unforeseen acts of piracy or god. The sidewalk is clear again.