Visiting Israel. Part 2. Ashqelon.

Population of Israel is 7 million including 5.5 mil of Jews. You may be surprised, but there are 1.5 mil of Arabs who are loyal citizens of Israel who use buses for commute and not to blow themselves up. They are pretty happy living in Israel among Jews. Average life expectancy here is 79 years for men and 82 for women.

I started my trip in the city of Ashqelon, which is located in one hour of driving to the South of Tel Aviv and will slowly move to the North.

Take a guess, where did I take this photo:

You guessed it right ndash; these people are sitting in the pharmacy waiting in line. There are several health organizations in the country, and people attend those pharmacies that accept their medical insurance.

This photo is taken by my iPhone, which is pretty expensive to get here ndash; around $1000 with the phone service. People with smaller income usually pay more for goods. I “m not sure if Apple commands more money or local phone companies want to make a quick buck.

Interestingly enough, people here don “t complain. Not only the iPhones, the gasoline here is about seven dollars a gallon. In the USA, people earn at least twice as much as in here, but wait for a year when we “ll start paying seven bucks a gallon. The US media will be screaming that it “s the end of the world. In Israel, people keep quiet. How are things? A kol beseder ndash; everything “s fine.

My next challenge was to purchase a boom box with a CD player. There are two shopping malls (they call them kanyons) in the city of Ashkelon. None has a store that sells boom boxes. The closest shopping area is Sector Gaza located in short 20 min drive from here. Nay, in Gaza I may get a boom followed by a box, which is not exactly what I “m looking for. Actually, for some reasons, Palestinians were not too active this Summer some lazy bombing of the Southern cities don “t count.

Since I have a car, I wanted to drive places. Went to Google, Yahoo and Mapquest ndash; the mapping service is not available for English speaking drivers. Google showed me the map with no street names on it – thank you very much. Found a 19-Century looking Web site that promised maps in English ndash; tough luck ndash; it has nothing there. Oh well, I shouldn “t be expecting the modern level of services of a developing country. No biggie. I “ll find my way around here. Who needs GPS if you have relatives?

Here “s the photo in the local farmers ” market. Any vegetable you want at dirt cheap prices.

I visited India in May, and subconsciously I am comparing these two countries even though one of the is 200 times larger. It seems that a small Israel is more developed.

After lunch, I drove to the shore ndash; the water in the sea was worm but wavy. I finished my day with a couple of beers. I drink Belgium beer Leffe. At home, they sell only Leffe Blonde in our supermarket. I prefer dark beers but Leffe is the best for me. The local liquor store made my day ndash; they had Leffe Bruin. I bet bruin means dark in Belgium.

Till next blog from the central part of Israel.


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