What Would Be The Worst Thing?

by Brian on May 8, 2008

in Only in Israel

The one drawback to traveling in Israel during hol ha moed – the intermediary days of the Pesach holiday that ended two weeks ago – is the traffic. Everyone is on the roads and you have to anticipate long delays. Trying to figure out the fastest, least congested route is a national sport in which we dutifully engaged during our recent trip to the north of the country. The same is true of Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel Independence Day (today).

Getting out of Jerusalem was our first challenge. We headed out of Baka where we live past Liberty Bell Park to take King David Street. But when we got there, the road was closed. Police were directing travelers through the center of town which is jammed even on a good day. Some dignitary was staying at the King David Hotel – was it Jimmy Carter or Condoleezza Rice? We never found out.

Half an hour later we finally made it out of the city and headed towards the Dead Sea to high tail it up the Jordan Valley road where we knew traffic would be sparse. On the way up, we stopped at Gan Garoo, a lovely little zoo featuring kangaroos and koala bears. We somehow hoped that by delaying our travels by an hour we’d beat some of the mid-day throngs on the road.

When we got to the Zemach junction just past the city of Bet Shean, we had a decision to make – should we go left toward Tiberius or right along the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee? We’d already heard on the news that there were 45 minute delays getting into Tiberius so we decided to try what we hoped was the lesser traveled way.

And for a while we were right.

The traffic flowed normally for the first 30 minutes and we congratulated ourselves on a decision well made. And then, around Kibbutz Ein Gev, traffic slowed to a crawl. The 45 minutes we had avoided had been transferred to the other side of the lake.

Finally we cleared the jam and continued on our unimpeded way until – bam – we were stuck for another 45 minutes trying to make a left turn towards the Golan Heights at the T-Junction at the north end of the lake.

By now we had been delayed for an hour and a half and my patience was wearing thin. We had decided to take some back roads to our destination, hoping to avoid even more jams on the main road from Tiberius to Kyriat Shemona. But when we came to our turn off, a large sign proclaimed that the “bridge was out” on the road we wanted.

I finally lost it. Complaints spewed out of me like a water balloon unleashed on an unwitting bystander.

“Why did we take this way?” And: “This is a nightmare!” There were other choice expressions I won’t print in this family-oriented column.

“Are you sure you want to go there?” my wife Jody asked, attempting to temper my temper.

“We’re already there,” I sputtered in reply.

It was at that moment that Jody, with the impromptu wherewithal of a true tzadik, turned it all around.

“What would be the worst thing that could happen?” she asked the captive audience in our car. The kids immediately jumped in with responses.

Aviv: “that we would run out of gas.”

Merav: “that someone would have puked”

Me: “that I would have hit that car when I was trying to pass the truck.”

We all laughed. That’s all it took, a little reality check, and the heavy mood lifted as quickly as it had come crashing down

It took us 5 and a half hours for what should have been a 3.5 hour drive. But we got there, minutes before dinner. We settled into our rooms and hung out on the grass as the hot day faded. You can read about our next days in my previous post. All in all it turned out to be a fabulous vacation.

But the next time…I’m staying put at home until after hol ha moed.

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