Tuesday, July 12. It's hothothot here. Maybe that's why the beach volleyball games started late in the day. All games for beach volleyball (kaduraf-hofim) are held on Hof Saronit (Saronit Beach) in Netanya. It would be impossible to cover all the games by oneself because they are spread all over the country: women's basketball in Jerusalem, soccer (football) in Haifa, swimming at the Wingate sports complex near Netanya.
So, I took the train from Tel Aviv to Netanya and a cab to the beach. The trains are great: double-decker with comfortable seats, big windows, and digital readouts--in Hebrew of course--for each approaching station (and I can read them).
The beach is at the Mediterranean--quite lovely. They had stands with chair-seating and a high, billowing covering against the sun. Seats a few hundred and was mostly full for the later games. I got there to see the start of the women's games at 4 pm.
Then, at 5 pm, US 1 played Brasil. US 1 is Jon Aharoni and Aaron Wexler, both of L.A. They know Ami through the L.A. beach volleyball scene. "We love that guy. He's craaaazzzy," one said. "We're bummed he's moving to San Diego," said the other.
They won their match handily in the first 2 games. You have to win 2 of 3 games. On the adjacent court, Israel 1 beat Australia 1. (Most countries playing beach volleyball have 2 teams.) Israel 1 looks pretty good.
Next: Ami and Ilan Goldstein (now I've got the spelling correct) playing Mexico. They won their first game 21-14, no problem. The second game, however, Ami and Ilan wanted to see if we were all paying attention and let Mexico get ahead in the middle third of the game. Oooof, come back! They did. Now, I don't know much about beach volleyball, so I'll probably get the terminology wrong, but: when Ami and Ilan are doing a classic dig-set-spike, what can stop them? They make it look easy, elegant. This they won 21-14 as well. Kal ha-k'vod, guys!!
Right afterward, we were all gathered around the athletes' central tables when we heard about the bombing not far from where we are in Netanya. Because it is so close to Tul Karm and the territories, Netanya has been hit by suicide bombers a lot. In this case, Islamic Jihad. Beyond saying they are a bunch of death-obessed losers, I bite my tongue. But security around the players seems good, and the bomber had nothing to do with the Games. Then Ami and I walked with the others on the team up to the promenade, high above the beach, where we met up with Ilan's family.
I went with Ilan's family (his dad, grandmom, and cousins) to the cousins' house in south Netanya, thinking we'd meet up with Ami and Ilan for dinner, but the traffic due to the bombing was crazy, taking us an hour for a 10-minute drive. I realized we'd never meet up for dinner, so I asked to be dropped at the train, which arrived just as I stepped onto the platform! If I had been a minute later, I would have had to wait an hour.
Tomorrow's games begin late, too. Ami/Ilan play Australia 1, I believe. I will probably stay over in Netanya at the King Solomon Hotel, where the athletes are staying. It was fun being with Ami, who intro'd me to the people he's met. He's a popular guy, natch. His Hebrew is surprisingly good for not having used it since that college semester at Ben Gurion University.
That's it for now. And, yes, Connor, I did sleep again, and long. I had to catch up on sleep.