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Upper Galilee is Lovely this Time of Year…


So, I have received no small number of questions and e-mails in response to this post; here is a short explanation.

On Sunday afternoon, Davida and I rented a car and left Jerusalem for Ken Bahula, a bed and breakfast near Rosh Pinna. We arrived without incident, got settled, and began to make plans for visiting the various attractions of Galilee and the Golan; I was particularly interested in the various military fortifications (from 1099 to 1973) in both areas, while Davida was more focused on visiting some of the ancient synagogues around the Sea. We got up on Monday morning, but shortly before breakfast Davida fell ill. I won’t go into the details, but about 45 minutes later she, myself, and Eveline (the proprietress of Ken Bahula) were speeding towards the hospital at Sieff, about 10 miles away.

Much screaming and unpleasantness ensued, before painkillers were finally administered, a bed was found, and we began our first hand encounter with the Israeli health care system. Since the hospital “has had a bad experience” with American insurance companies, all expenses were up front, out of pocket. I don’t blame the Israelis so much as the Americans, and I don’t doubt that the bad experience was genuine, but it’s kind of a shock to have to suddenly put $1800 on the credit card that you swore you would never, ever, ever use again except for emergencies. In any case, Davida was eventually moved to a room, which she shared with a very nice young Druze woman; we assume she was nice, anyway, because she didn’t speak English and we don’t speak either Arabic or Hebrew. Indeed, the latter turned out to be rather a problem, because we found that the hospital at Sieff is staffed disproportionately by recent Russian immigrants, who have impressive medical skills but meager English language capability. As you can imagine, the situation was, at times, trying; it was very hard to figure out what was going on, and even harder to communicate what we needed. Eveline, our B&B host, was indispensable, translating when necessary and in general making things happen.

Davida stayed in the hospital Monday night, and I returned to the B&B to make various phone calls and send various e-mails. When I went back the next morning Davida was better, but not great, and went back and forth all day long. We learned from a doctor who spoke English that Davida might not be able to fly for a week, or even a month, which meant that our Thursday morning flight back to the US would have to be cancelled. That done, we considered our options, which included an extended stay somewhere in Tel Aviv, where we had some friends.

The situation had changed for the better on Wednesday morning, as Davida was discharged under instructions to take it easy for a couple of days, and come back in about a week for a check up. This is where we currently stand; we are still in Ken Bahula, are taking advantage of the extra days to do some (low key) sightseeing, and don’t know when we’ll be able to fly back to the United States. The situation was complicated by the fact that the wireless at Ken Bahula was broken for several days, which meant that we had to walk down the street and… borrow someone else’s wireless. As the area is beset by a large number of loose dogs, this resulted, on more than one occasion, in canine confrontation. Now that the wireless is repaired, we’re returning to semi-normality, given the situation.

All in all, things are okay. The hospital at Sieff was quite good, and we hope (!!) that our insurance company will present us with no difficulties in terms of reimbursement. If we had been uninsured, or if we hadn’t had a lot of free credit card space, things would have been a lot more difficult. As I suggested, the host and hostess of Ken Bahula has been of enormous help, and I heartily recommend the B&B to anyone who’s traveling in the area. Of course, we don’t know when we’ll be coming back, and Israel ain’t cheap, so it’s fair to say that not everything is hunky dory. Fortunately, Davida is doing much better, with the concern now regarding the effect of the plane ride rather than any enduring discomfort.

Will update when we have new information.

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