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The quiet summer

The sea is blue but it is not really SUMMER in Israel.

Summers in Israel always used to be special for me.

The entire country feels as though it has entered vacation mode even though most of us are still working. This is the time when new ice cream flavours are announced - you can never eat enough ice cream to cool off properly in our summer heat! 

I am always amused at how fond Israelis are of watermelon flavoured ice cream because Israelis eat real watermelon nearly as much as they drink water in the summer.

Israelis who wear flip-flops year round invest in a new summer pair and the rest of us join this extreme casual look. Daily more and more people abandon their sport shoes and proper sandals and flip-flop everywhere. 

We sign up at the local swimming pool for the summer and count the days until the @$%÷/ jellyfish leave our beaches. Israel is a small and skinny country and the coast is not that far away for most of us. 

The Israelis might not swim as much as South Africans (I was surprised that school children here are not taught to swim through a school program) but they are definitely beach goers. 

They have mastered the art of going to the beach here in Israel. It seems that every single family own:

  • a streamlined designed modern "Bedouin tent" for shade
  • a "machzelet" (a straw picnic blanket)
  • coolers packed with a four course meal for a family of twenty 
  • various other beach paraphernalia such as a plastic kiddie pool for those who do not want to swim in the sea, a backgammon board and a set of matkot to play a casual beach tennis game
  • a special plastic container filled with pre-cut watermelon pieces. It is a sacrilege not to eat watermelon when you go to the beach in Israel.

Two professional Israeli beach goers

Every city and most of the towns have some type of summer festival or musical event going on. In previous years, the municipality of Zichron Yaakov invited street musicians once a week to entertain the rest of us in the center of town. 

We may have sweated profusely in the hot and humid evenings as we sat outside coffee shops and restaurants to listen to the music. But it was nice to leave our air conditioned homes and meet up with friends and family for a beer or a serving of cold watermelon served with the local made Bulgarian cheese.

Children, with their two month long summer vacation are signed up for every type of summer school/course that you can think of. From dancing to learning to surf or just hanging out with your friends making crafts and swimming in the local pool.

I may complain about the constant heat of the Israeli summers but it is still my favourite time of the year in Israel. 

Everyone is relaxed and tanned and taking life easy. The days are long and languid and we all wait for the heat of the day to break so that we can dress up in summer dresses and go out in the evenings. 

And no matter who you are, or what you are doing, we all gorge ourselves on watermelon. The sweet taste of watermelon continuously runs through our summer days and connects one summer to next for an entire Israeli lifetime.

But everything is different now.

I have not seen any summer events or festivals advertised. The local municipal pools were opened and then closed again because our coronavirus numbers spiked again.

No tourists are visiting Israel and upping to the vacation mode feeling of the summers.

I am quite sure that the summer schools will not be as packed this year because many parents are still not working and others are worried about their children's safety.

The beaches are less crowded and the restaurants are half empty. It is not easy covering your mouth and nose with a mask in this suffocating heat.

The summer of 2020 does not feel at all like summer. We are still staying mostly at home, trying to dodge the virus. It feels as though the only difference is that now we had to  lower the number on the aircon's thermostat.

And we have watermelon! 

At least we still have watermelon this summer...😁.
Some more Israeli summer stories: The time of the jellyfish How to survive the Israeli summer Hiking from Nachsolim beach to HaBonim beach

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