Day 3, Thursday, July 14: Big mistake--I called Ami at 7:30 am to see if he wanted to eat breakfast with me. My phone call woke up Ilan not Ami. I quickly rung off with an apology. Apparently, I'd woken Ilan up enough so that he was ready for breakfast, sort of. He joined me and we talked jazz. Ami told me that Ilan not only plays the trumpet, he composes as well. I love jazz. And, yes, Ilan, the Jazz Bakery (where he has played a few times) is pretty sterile, but you can hear the music. If you're in the Bay Area, try Yoshi's--a great venue.
Ilan was not entirely awake because he quickly left for a post-prandial nap. At breakfast I also saw a couple of large tables full of US swimmers. The swimmers compete at Wingate, down the road a bit. The US has brought 21 in Open and 19 Juniors. I saw one of the swimmers in the King Solomon hotel pool today: long, effortless strokes, just 5 to cross lengthwise and turns as smooth as a seal.
I'm no shopper, but I followed Ami's advice and checked out the shops along Netanya's Herzl St. I bought a couple of things, but was especially intrigued by the languages I heard on the street. A lot of Russian. In fact, a lot of signs include Russian. If Russian is Netanya's second most-used language after Hebrew, French is third, both French immigrants and tourists. The Jerusalem Post had an article today on the rise of French tourism to Israel.
Finally, it was time to head down to Hof Saronit and today's games. All 3 US teams (2 men, 1 women) were playing Israel teams at 5 pm. I was told that the top teams among men are the 2 US teams, Mexico 1 and Israel 1. Today Ami and Ilan play Israel 1.
The first game, Ami and Ian had some great blocks, 3 hot ones in a row. But they lost that game 17-21. The music during play today was good: "No Woman, No Cry," Eagles road music, a cut off of Idan Rachel's new CD... For those who haven't heard Rachel, check him out. Israeli fusion of jazz, reggae, world music. Very good to my ears.
In the second game, Ami and Ilan just nosed out Israel 1 to win, but this was tough play. Tough enough so that Israel 1 took it from them in the third game. Another day it would have been different, but... There's still the playoffs on Friday (tomorrow).
Unlike the first 3 days, these games will be played in the morning and early afternoon. Thank goodness the hothothot weather has broken a bit. Each of the medal-round players (US 1&2, Israel 1&2, did I miss a team?) will play 2 games, results being gold, silver, bronze, and klum (nothing).
Meanwhile, Jon and Aaron handily defeated Israel 2 in 2. Although I had been yelling Artzot Ha'Brit (USA) thinking to psych out the Israelis, Jon assured me later that seasoned players don't hear that stuff. Jon coaches volleyball for Brentwood in L.A. and has a sense of humor that's catches you coming and going.
Last time I was this excited watching one of Ami's sports, I took it up: soccer, the beautiful game, which I loved playing for years. I told Jon this and he said, well, I teach volleyball on the West Side (L.A.). Come take lessons. Ok, Jon, if Michael and I land in L.A. on our return to California, you're on.
I stayed to watch Australia vs Mexico 2. Where do my rooting loyalties lie: with continent or language? In this case, as in most others in life, it lies with the personal connections one's made. I've met the Australians. Besides, it was fun to shout "Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy!" with this wild and crazy contingent of Aussie fans. Danny and Max did win and then did a victory lap with a huge, blow-up 'roo draped in national flag.
The US team is in "lock up" tonight. I preferred to eat elsewhere. I chose Cafe del Mar at the top of the Sharon elevators that carry people down from promenade to beach. The upper walkway provides a great view of Hof Saronit.
Cafe del Mar served me a perfect and perfectly presented denis--delicious, mild white fish. Appetizers of olives and peanuts, a dry red Yarden wine. The sauteed denis seeming to swim over ripples of good balsamic past an outcrop of grilled peppers and eggplant. With sides of "home fries" and Israeli salad. Yum.
At 4 pm, under the hot sun, the promenade had been empty. At 8:30 pm, as I walked back to the King Solomon in the dusk, the promenade was alive with people: young families with strollers, groups of old people sitting and talking, couples, teens. In the lit-up square, artisans sell jewelry, paintings, crafts (as well as T-shirts and chotchkes). This is the Israel I love.
Later, I met up with Ami. We sat and talked in the cool of my room about what each of us would do after the Games are over tomorrow and how we would meet up before I left Israel on Tuesday evening.
Thank you, Michael, for straightening out bureaucratic snafus! Can't wait to see you.