On my way to Israel (written May 1998)

This is a journal I sent to friends back in 1998 as I was making my way to Isreal. There are a bunch more which I will also post.
Hello all.

Here is the first issue of what I’m attempting to make an interesting account of my experience here in Israel. I’m sending it everyone who could possibly care, but to save you the embarassment of asking to be deleted,

THIS IS THE ONLY JOURNAL YOU WILL RECIEVE UNLESS YOU ASK TO CONTINUE GETTING THEM.
Here is ther first issue of my adventure in Israel. This will cover the events up to my first day. Don’t expect any juice. Anything juicy that may or may not have happened is deliberately left out. Sorry.

Miles

In 1994 and 1995, I took two trips to Israel for a total of 4 weeks. I had a very good time. The people are very nice. (though a bit abrupt) The country is very pretty. (as are the women). Ever since then, I’ve told everyone from Intel Israel that if a cool opportunity came up for me to go there for an extended period they should keep me in mind.

Well in November of 1997 one of the big managers approached me about a possible assignment in his group. I accepted and here I am. Ironicly, in the weeks that I was travelling here, he has taken another position to be replaced by the guy that recommended me to him. This is the same guy that hired me into Intel in the first place. I guess he must have liked me working in his group.

Before I left work in Santa Clara, I had a number of opportunities to say goodbye to those around me. The bible study that I attend at work had a potluck for me. I set aside two evenings to say goodbye to my non-work friends. On the first night, even though I exected only 4 or 5, I drew a crowd or a little more than 10. The second day, work took me to a going away lunch. About 30 or 40 people attended that. At the lunch, I quickly finished eating and made my rounds spending some time with each table. My dinner the second night with my friends drew about 14. At this point I came to the realization, “Wow! people really do like me.” I feel blessed to have such a special group of friends.

Hopefuly, it wasn’t a fluke and I’ll be able to find more friends here. 😉

Making an international move is actually quite complicated and it gives me heightened appreciation of companies that manage to open foreign offices. Some of the issues include: 1 work permit. 2 getting all the approvals within the company 3 coordinating with the movers- first I had to decide what to store, what to ship by air and what to ship by boat. 4 buying my tickets- a ticket to TLV that has a stay of <30 days costs ~$1500 but if the stay is >30 then the tix cost $3500. Go figure. I paid $1700 for a short term ticket and will just buy another round trip when I come back for a visit. 5 My taxes will be done by Intel while I’m here. They will probably look pretty impressive. The coolest reason is because of Israeli tax. Since I’m working here, I have to pay some amount of tax here. Because Intel’s policy is that I shuouldn’t pay any more of less tax than before they may have to pay some of tax here for me. But the IRS considers that INCOME so will of course tax that as well. Relocation expenses are also income.

Anyway, the fun stuff.

On Sunday, 15 april, I drove to Los Angeles to visit my father and the rest of that side of the family. My family is quite religious (the african american Baptist variety) and was excited for two reasons: 1. I’m going to Israel. 2. “maybe you’ll find a nice Jewish girl to marry.”

Go figure on that one but I guess I’m getting to the age where any wife at all would make them happy. I’m 26. My younger sister has informed me that if I’m not married by the time I’m 28, I might as well forget it so Israeli women must be my last chance. Even my uncle the pastor thought finding a jewish girl would be good.

On Monday evening, my gradmother arranged for our immediate family to come have dinner. They didn’t all come at the same time but this allowed me to interact with everyone.

On Tuesday, I had dinner with my friend Dorothy from (s)Wellesly; we had sushi. Coincidentally, I ran into a fraternity brother, Jacob Rael, there. After dinner we did some partying since it was St. Patrick’s day.

Wednesday night, I had dinner with some high school friends, Monique and Isabel. Monique’s sister K.K. was also there. K.K. is supposed to be my future fiancee. Part of the discussion centered on whether K.K and I would really be compatible. We had a short crisis when we thought we both slept on the same side of the bed. Luckily it turned out to be a conflict in terminology. We ate at the Cheese Cake Factory and the food was rather “tasty”. I should also mention that the food my grandmother cooked two days before was even “tastier”.

On Thursday, Emily drove my Corvette down (I had driven my Corolla). I needed to do something with my two cars. (sounds impressive huh?) I decided to give the Vette to my dad. The Corolla, would be put to best use by my brother who turned 16 last July. Besides, I’ve always wanted to drive through some portion of the US. So Emily, in addition to helping me by bringing down my second car kept me company on the trip to Colorado. More on that later.

So during the day on Thursday, my grandmother asks me what my plans for the next couple days are. Well, tonight Emily will get here and then we start driving for a couple days. Where will she be sleeping tonight? I figured she could just sleep this couch and I’l sleep on the other one. I can’t have you two sleeping in the same room!….

In the end I slept in my dad’s room who never sleeps there anyway.

On Thursday night, I went out with K.K., Emily, and my cousin James. Before we left, James runs out to my aunt and uncle as they were dropping off my grandmother from church to report, “Miles has a black girl AND a white girl in there!!!!” Gotta love James. He’s become quite the hound lately.

So Friday morning comes along and I’m ready to begin the next phase of my travels. At 11am, after explaining all the nuances of the vette to my dad Emily and I drive away. After driving ~15min I realize I forgot my glasses so we had to go back. Luckily that was the only hitch.

We’re off again. It took about 2 hours of speed limit driving to finally get away from the LA area. LA’s a BIG place, you know. During this time, Emily and I agreed that neither one of us would dump the other at the end of the trip. Should be pretty easy since we’re not dating.

One of the fun things about the coming trip is keeping track of elevation with my handy altitude watch (I knew there was a reason why I bought it) Once you leave LA, the highway to Colorado never goes below 3 or 4 thousand feet.

One the first day we drove to Williams which is about an hour outside of the Grand Canyon. On the way, we stopped in Barstow for lunch and I had the most not “tasty” milkshake I ever had. Thankfully, it had no alcohol in it so I could not drink it without remorse.

In Williams we had a late dinner. When we got to the restaurant, something happened that I hadn’t experienced in quite some time. Living in California really numbs your senses to things like this. The host asked me “smoking or non?” How wierd. We stayed at the Route 66 Motel. Very exciting. In the lobby, I saw a plauque for 1st place in the local rodeo won by a guy with last name of Patel. I presume he was one of the owners. Gotta watch out for those Indians. The thought of an Indian speaking hick with an Indian accent is quite scary. Even worse than the Chinese girl from Nashville that I met at MIT. (man she could talk alot)

The next morning we got up and drove to “The Canyon”. Can we say, “wow!” Seeing pictures does not compare in the least to the really thing. (kinda like sex) We spent about 2 hours there taking pictures and being tourists. I decided that one day I’d like to backpack across it. Not sure how feasible that is. There were also lots of walls begging to be climbed.

So we drove on heading to Albaquerque. Along to road from the canyon to flagstaff we passed by something I wasn’t expecting in that part of the county at the end of March…. A big white snowy meadow. very pretty. Again we stopped and took pictures.

We had a late lunch just past flagstaff and I gave Emily a quick lesson on driving stick. (shift that is) As we were position in the middle or a parking lot, a man in a van with lots of “Jesus loves you” stickers. Says to me out of his window, “you’re a brave man”, smiled and continued on. Emily actually did quite well though you couldn’t her that.

We continued on to Albaquerque. As I was going along, I discovered something about truckers,… Their job isn’t that easy. Even though we were only going along rolling hills the elevation made them steep enough that I couldn’t maintain full speed in my Corolla. I found myself following the examples of the truckers by blazing down the incline before each hill so I could maintain the speed I wanted.. Think about that next time you cut off a truck just before a long hill.

So we got to albaquerque decide to catch a movie. While in a gas station asking for directions to a good theater, I mention, “hey, I work for Intel. Don’t have a monster factory here?” “Yes” was the reply followed by, “I heard you’re laying people off”.

So we went to the theater as directed. We weren’t sure what we wanted see but agreed we could figure it out. There were no movie discriptions anywhere! Century could use come marketing advice. When we called out into a small crowd what the movie Wild Things was about, we got silence. Finally a woman aged about 40 responded, “It’s the one with Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon and some other people…. Sounds like the type of movie you’d likes.” Kids these days.

In any case, this is the movie that we decided to see based on our opinions that Dillon and Neve Campbell are babes. It was very good. I very much recommend it. As an added bonus, and this should appeal to you feminists out there, you get to see Bacon’s unit. That got quite a response. I wonder if they used a double. I myself, if I had a double, would have chosen one that reached to the knees, but he didn’t follow this route. But don’t dispair guys, even though you don’t get to see Neve Campell’s chest you do get to check out the other girl’s. Very nice. Also lots of bikini action.

After the movie, we wanted to get in somemore miles so continued on intending to stay someplace just outside of Santa Fe. Unfortunately, they neglected to put put any motels past Santa Fe so we ended up driving all the way to Las Vegas. Las Vegas, New Mexico that is where we stayed at the Thunderbird motel. (we couldn’t find anyplace with hourly rates)

The next day, we decided that we were far enough that we didn’t have to take the main highway and took a route through the mountains instead. Definitely a good move. Added alot to the scenery that way.

So we’re driving along and we come upon a massing bridge over the Rio Grande. Again… “wow!” We asked this psycho photagrapher if he could take our picture. He goes into this spiel about what kind of film do we have print of slide. (it’s 1pm on a clear day in the dessert) And oh, do we have enough light for the polarizer on my lense (it’s 1pm on a clear day in the dessert)….. Just press the button please. This is shortly after I watch him taking pictures from the middle of the bridge with a tripod self timer and everything (the purpose of all this is to prevent camera shake which results in noticeably sharper pictures) just as 6 cars are about to come across. “errr, there are a bunch of cars coming… you might want to wait a moment till they pass.” “oh yeah… thanks”

We continue on. The drive into and thoughout Colorado is quite amazing. Lots of snowcapped mountains piercing out of rolling wheat meadows kissed by the sunlight oh so gently. Yuck. I hate flowery writing but the view was pretty cool. We stopped to have lunch at a mexican restaurant. I figured that in the southwest, the mexican food should be pretty good. I ordered the tacos. They definitely weren’t “tasty”. They didn’t taste bad either. Imagine this: take some skinned, boneless chicken and put it into straight boiling water until it’s cooked. The wrap it with a bunch of regular lettuce and a piece or two of tomato and wrap it all in regular old steamed soft taco shells. Makes your mouth water doesn’t it? At least the shake was good.

The rest of the drive was less eventful. We approached Denver just as all the locals were coming home from skiing. I didn’t realize that people skied in this part of the country.

So there I was in Denver. (Boulder, actualy) I finally get to see the place where my bro and his mom live (along with two sisters, a dog, a nine (9) cats. It’s a very nice place that they’re fixing up these day. The area reminded me of the veggy haus in La Honda. I must say that Boulderites have it pretty good. As I was driving to and from my brother’s house, I couldn’t keep my eyes on the road. All that rock to be climbed! It was quite exciting.

Tuesday rolls around and I hooked up with Nate Getrich from MIT who lives in the area. I had called him up at IBM the day before and got his voice mail. In keeping with the PKT tradition, we got together and told all the same stories about all the same people. Hopefully, Richard (he would be my brother) didn’t get an incorrect impression of college life. Him being in high school and all.

Wednesday is when the real excitement hits. We go skiing. Unlike my previous experiences, I was actually pretty decent. I was able to parallel turn. I could stop. We even slid down a black diamond. At the end of the day I was pretty exhausted. That didn’t stop me from visiting with Curtis Barnes my big brother at PKT. I hadn’t seen him since he graduated from MIT my freshman year. Again, we told more of the same stories only this time about the older people from the house.

Thursday comes and it’s time to continue on my journey. My friend Nurith in Dallas is the next stop. Hicks, cadillacs with steer horns, and country music is what I was expecting. Instead, a beautiful Crate&Barrel is what I found. A ‘cute’ shopping area that gives University avenue a run for its money is what Dallas really is. At least thats the part that I saw. I stayed there till Sunday afternoon. On saturday night, I had the pleasure of going to a country bar. Let me tell ya, Texas has alot to learn when it comes to country dancing. The place we went to was about the same area as the Saddle Rack in San Jose. Instead of two dance floors, they had only one. Because the total floor space was about the, this wouldn’t have been a problem is not for the fact that there are two types of dancing: “country”, and “western”. Well, actually, that should be couple and line. My line dancing is a bit better than with a partner and I wasn’t able to strut my stuff! what a shame. The place really hits it’s low when they busted out with the “pop set”. You know, the music for the younger generation. This also wouldn’t have been a problem if not for their selection. Would you believe they played a song by the “Back Street Boyz”. They might as well play Vanilla Ice at a hip hop club.

The day before, on Friday, I went to one of Nurith’s classes. She’s in law school and contracts was the topic of this particular class. I think I could be a pretty good business lawyer; I’m pretty good at weasling out of stuff. anyway, she pointed out a girl who had tried on a $73K engagement ring. The one she ended up getting was pretty impressive as well. I could see it across the room. Ever since she’d told me about this price tag, I’ve been wondering just what you get for $74k. Well, during the day on Saturday we found out. We were walking around a cute mall that would give University shopping center and Copley Center a run for its money in the shishi dept. We asked two jewelry stores what such a ring would look like. One only had a $60K ring and the other went only as high a $20K. Even so, both places showed us some nice stuff. It was pretty clear that they thought we were shopping for our engagement but I was still rather surprise that they took us so seriously. They definitely won points over the people in Palo Alto stores. 😉 Made for some very interesting shopping. When Nurith and I told her sister about our shopping later on, Nurith commented that she could tell the different between the quality of the stuff in the expensive store over that from the other store. I don’t know about that but then I guess I would get more excited in the craftsman dept.

Germany is the last part of my vacation before I have to work again. It wasn’t until I got there and was hit by a foreign language that I really realized. WOW!, I’m moving to Israel! A country with a foreign language that I don’t speak. Street signs that I can’t read. (Hebrew is the language used here) It was almost intimidating. I enjoyed my stay in good ole Deutschland, however. I always do. I like visiting my sister, even when we’re at each others throats.

Would you believe the Jovan (my sister) the teeniest teenager I know. The biggest, most disgusting Leo DeCapucino fan I know, HAS NOT SEEN TITANIC!! Quite remarkable, eh?

Alas, my vacation has ended, I’m in Israel now. I was in Germany for only couple days and part of that was spent jet-lagging. Security in Germany isn’t nearly what it used to be. No tanks. I didn’t get frisked. Only a couple guards with automatic weapons.

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