Friday, December 30, 2005

The Mea-Culpa, "Forgot to Tell You I Was On Vacation" Post 

I feel horrible.

On the very same week that I gained so many new readers, just by listing wafah dufour in a post's technorati tag -- did any of you picture hounds ever come back again? -- well, I dropped the ball and didn't post for over two days without any explanation. Of course there is an explanation, there has to be. Since I don't own a blog-eating dog, I'll have to stick with the easy one.

I was on a Hanukkah family vacation. I would have warned you in advance to make sure no one came to my blog while I was gone, but I fully expected that our high-class hotel in Ein Gedi would have a wi-fi hotspot, and that I would blog in the evenings from my fancy hotel room after the tired little ones had collapsed on their deluxe rollout futons.

As it turns out, hotel room might have been a bit of an over-statement. It was more of a guest cottage and the room didn't even have any unused electrical outlets, let alone wi-fi access. Oh well.

It was a shame too that I couln't blog because I had lots of late night awake time. It was so hard to sleep because of the ever-present reek of stale massage oil from all the past occupants' Ayurvedic face rubs and body peels that had somehow permanently permeated the very essence of the room. The oils they use in these high end "wellness treatments" must be toxic all by themselves, which of course requires its own special cleansing procedure.

So it didn't take too much will power for me to avoid the massage and facial. I just let my wife and mother-in-law handle that territory. I think the smell alone might have killed me if having to strip down to my shorts hadn't gotten me first. That must explain at least a little bit why it's almost always women having mud baths and homeopathic near death experiences, while we men would much prefer to sit on the nearest soft couch eating free cheese and watching whatever they're showing on the hotel lobby television set. Don't we care about our health and our skin tone? Eh, not so much actually.

I was informed by the women upon their return of just how much sensorial pleasure I had missed out on. There was the heated oil on the face, the hot stones treatment, the forced smelling of possibly poisonous fragrant herbs. I really wasn't sure if they were describing the massages they'd just paid to receive or the Spanish Inquisition (which I totally didn't expect). But I wisely just nodded and gave a little grunt of understanding so they would realize just how much I shared their appreciation for these things.

Should you try one of these massages? I don't know. Maybe I've just reached some sort of point in my life where I can't imagine rubbing anything for an hour and a half, even if there is hot oil involved, so I'm probably not the one you should ask. Nevertheless, Sharon and her mom seemed to enjoy it, so give it a try -- unless you're a guy, then just hang out in a comfy chair and plan your snide comments for later.

Of course an Ein Gedi vacation has lots more to offer than sitting around waiting to find out what your wife will smell like after her massage. One of the highlights for me was that the hotel had an on-site miniature golf course, a rarity here in Israel. Unfortunately I can't report first hand on the condition of the greens because I, the only male member of our family, the only one who would know a putter from a letter opener, was sent back to the room for a much-needed nap just as mini-golf time rolled around. Mind you, I'm not complaining -- a nap is a good thing and well-appreciated. It's just that based on preliminary intelligence I've received from the field, I'm starting to doubt whether my girls received proper professional mini-golf training. Sure they had fun, if that's what you care about. But apparently Tamar escorted her ball through the course like a mother hen fussing over her baby chick -- tap tap tappity tap tap with the putter, pushing the ball along. And to the best of my knowledge, no one even kept score! Is that miniature golf, I ask you?

Ok, so forget the mini-golf, unless you're willing to give up your nap. But there are still a lot more great options to an Ein Gedi vacation.

For instance, when your kids start clamouring for a dip the salty dead sea, listen to them, it's a lot of fun. But be aware, they will laugh and frolic for only approximately 5 minutes, after which they will begin screaming uncontrollably as the salt works itself into places it doesn't belong. So my advice is that you pull them out after 4 minutes and 55 seconds, while they are still laughing. Of course this won't really prevent the screaming, but at least you'll have a head start towards the car and proper medical attention. If you're quick enough, just maybe they won't associate the pain with being in the salty water, but rather with your forcefully pulling them out -- and that is how parents help their kids build up that reservoir of positive vacation memories.

And even if you're not that quick, don't worry, the screaming stops after about forty five minutes.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: