Tue 20 Feb 1996
We woke up at the crack of dawn to the sounds of the birds - and the trucks. we grabbed a quick bite of breakfast, suspiciously reminiscent of the previous nights dinner, and headed out to a nearby kibbutz, where Jeff carries on a clinic. Irene went for a walk while Jeff and I saw patients at the clinic. The chair of the department had asked me to make observations and recommendations regarding the many rural clinics I visited and comment about how they compared with Canadian rural practices. There was a considerable cross-section of clinical disorders, ranging from the minor to the major. It was of interest to me that the Kibbutz employs a number Thai workers, mainly as fruit-pickers. Jeff thought the official figures were 30,000 Thai workers. Probably there were more, he thought. We saw a couple of them at the clinic. It was very difficult as they spoke only Thai. The technique was to phone an interpreter, and once on the line the patient would relate the problems to the interpreter, who would then relay it to the doctor. Then the phone would be passed back and forth, and the story relayed. Time consuming and sometimes the translators skills were not the best, but it's the best that was available.
After the clinic was over we drove to Eilat. Following along the awesome Jordanian Mountains, the border a mere few hundred meters to our left, we arrived at the Red Sea and Eilat in a short while. We spent a while on the glorious beach, then walked along the promenade. One could have been in an exotic resort anywhere in the world. We spent a little time looking into various shops, some very high-end, others not so much. then ambled back to our car. We drove back up the Eilat Road back to Beer Sheva by the Dead Sea route. Took us about two and a half hours to get home.
Wed 21 Feb.
Went to work this am and picked up a bunch of mail that was dispatched express from home. It took 11 days to get here. In the mail was a sad note informing me of the death of my old school friend, Bernard Green. The note was from his wife, with no return address. I must try to get her address so I can send a note. Bernie and I were the closest of friends during our formative years, and were in and out of many scrapes.
Thur 22 Feb.
Went to work again!
This evening we went over to Betty and Arye (we knew her from Dublin) for a light supper before going to see "Fiddler on the Roof," by the Beer Sheva opera soc. Arye's home made Cherry Brandy was good - I'd get the recipe if I thought I'd ever get around to making it. The production was good and enjoyable, if not professional. It was in Hebrew, of course,with English titles.
February 23, 1996
Sat around the yard and did a bit of planning for a trip up north.
This evening we went over to Lisa and Nachum Portugese for supper. I met Lisa at the clinic. Argentine immigrants to Israel, they are both physicians, she a Family Doc, he some sort of Shrink. She dark and chubby, with an animated manner and a face that was as expressive as her voice. He, quiet, reserved, blond hair and blue eyes belying his Sephardic origins. Lisa told me that his family moved from Spain at the time of the inquisition, to Portugal. Eventually the family moved to Argentina, where the name 'Portugal' was bestowed upon them.
Lisa talked non-stop, telling us about all the hoops they were forced to jump through to get licensed in Israel, she being non Hebrew-speaking and knowing just a little English, he speaking some Hebrew. Finally they did get to write their exams in Spanish, and both of them did well.Lisa also regaled us with some stories of demanding patients, and believe me, there was no shortage of them in Israel.
Talked a little politics. I asked him what he thought of Peres. Nachum said he had voted for Rabin, but thought Peres was a little too left and a little too soft. He was for peace, of course, but would rather negotiate from a position of strength. I brought up 'BB' Netanyahu, saying that he seemed to enjoy more popularity in America than he does in Israel. He agreed, but thought that the elections could go any way. (This was 1996 remember).
They have a delightful little girl who is learning English and seemed delighted to have us to try it out. Before we realized it, it was almost midnight, and we took our leave. It was a very pleasant evening.
February 24, 1996. Sat.
This social life is going to kill me! Got up in time to head out to brunch at Carmi Margolis' Carmi is assistant dean, and is very interested and active in the areas of Clinical Practice Guidelines and Clinical Decision Making. He is an American,who after his stint in the US Army, came to settle in Israel. A tall, nice looking man in his fifties, he wears a small kipa on the back of his head. He told me that after his discharge from the US army he contiued to do his reserve duty, and some years served in both the US and Israeli armies.
Present at the lunch as well as the Margolis' and three of their five children, was a young Cuban couple who had recently emigrated to Israel from Cuba. He is some sort of Aviation Engineer, she a mid-wife. Neither of them have found work in their chosen fields, and he is currently working in some sort of factory. She is trying to get licensed as a mid-wife, but has the additional difficulties associated with not speaking Hebrew or English very well. Mrs Margolis is a dance teacher, and also American. We discusssed dance, music, Cuba, medicine and politics. Sang a few shabbat songs as is their family tradition, had a nice lunch and sang grace. The Margolis' are vegetarian, and served some interesting dishes, including 'vegiballs', which if nobody had told me I would have taken for meatballs. Left at about 3.30pm and had a drive around the old city, then home.