Eagle-eyed Our Honeymoon in Israel readers won’t have to search too far back in our archives to guess what might have been the best $20 we ever spent.
The plain cucumber sushi in Hong Kong airport, saving my stomach from digesting itself after a gluten-free in-flight meal stuff up? Not even close.
The cable-car ticket back to base after a disastrous sunrise hike at Masada? Getting warmer…
Let’s face it: when Mozo asked travel bloggers “What’s the story of the best $20 you ever spent?”, only one story came to mind: that of our very last night in Israel.
Allow me to refresh your memory…
On Day 8, we found ourselves trapped on a one-way express bus to Jerusalem, having just learned via the free on-board wifi that it was the eve of the Shavuot holiday, and everything in Israel was due to shut by 2PM. We made it through that disaster (relatively) unscathed, and the next morning we optimistically hit the streets of Tel Aviv, figuring that Israel’s cosmopolitan hub would disregard the conventions of religious holidays (as it happily disregarded Shabbat and kosher).
Boy, were we wrong.
We spent the entire day hiking in desert temperatures, from Tel Aviv to Old Jaffa and back again, searching for something – anything – open for business. We had planned to buy our souvenirs and gifts for loved ones that day, but in just a few hours we abandoned that plan, and commenced a search for simply any sign of life.
We retreated, briefly, to the air-conditioned haven of our hotel room, but – again, with unfailing optimism – we set out again in the early evening, with renewed determination to find the perfect spot for our last supper. We wanted something authentically Middle Eastern, something reasonably-priced, something gluten-free, and – most importantly – something bloody open. It shouldn’t have been that hard…
… except that it was. We searched high and low. We stomped around Tel Aviv for over two hours, down every street we knew and many we didn’t. Tempers were wearing pretty thin by that point: I was on the verge of becoming a teary nincompoop, while Rowan attempted (in vain) to maintain a veneer of hopeful bravado.
It was at this moment – when Israel and religious holidays had stretched us almost to breaking point – that I topped it all right off by stepping in a giant fresh dog turd.
Well. The streets of Tel Aviv have never seen a tantrum the likes of which I threw at that exact moment. Rowan just about bust his pooflevalve trying to contain his laughter, as I scraped my shoe against the gutter and wiped the remnants of the turd away with an antibacterial towelette. It was a perfectly literal end to a day of Israel figuratively shitting all over us.
What can $20 buy you in a moment like that? A damn strong frosty margarita, that’s what!
Rowan was in disaster-survival mode. He quickly hustled me into the nearest restaurant serving patrons (Taqueria, Levontin St 28). It failed the authenticity criterion, but by that point neither of us gave a damn. The staff seemed to sense our desperation, and gave us the perfect al fresco seat (the closest to the kitchen, and the bar). When words failed me, the waiter winked and said he’d take care of it – a massive frozen marg appeared before me within a minute.
The tequila (and the massive Mexican feast served shortly thereafter) proved marvelously restorative. By the end, I was in much better spirits, but Rowan sensed that the storm clouds had not yet quite passed. He frog-marched me back to the hotel room to relax in the hottest, bubbliest bath in the Middle East, while he did all of the packing and mixed us drinks with the grog he procured at the nearest corner store. And thus ended our final night in Israel!
Comedy is just tragedy plus time, of course, and when we look back at that night now, we end up in fits of uncontrollable laughter. Still, we can state for the record, definitively and without question: that margarita saved our last night in Israel, and quite possibly our marriage. L’Chayim!