Friday, June 8. Early this morning I walked the four blocks to the Bat Yam beach— it’s a good thing this apartment I’m staying in is so close to the beach because the apartment itself leaves a whole lot to be desired. To give you an idea, I found a large dead cockroach under the bathroom sink. But I had a nice beach walk on this far eastern end of the Mediterranean and, oddly, the shells are different from those in Spain. I walked for about 1½ hours. I spotted a grocery store on my way to the beach so on the way back I stopped off and got a one serving packet of a semi-healthy cereal, a banana, and a tiny soymilk box– at least I think it was soymilk; I couldn’t read the Hebrew—and brought it back to the apartment. After eating and taking care of a couple of things, by 10:00 AM I walked back to the beach with bathing suit, towel and book and spent the rest of the morning having a luxurious time in the sun and taking my half hour swim. This beach is interesting, in that there is a row of boulders pretty far out into the water that shelters the swimming area from most of the waves. This beach is really crowded, but I liked it better than the beach at Rimini; it is just south of Tel Aviv, were all the best Israeli beaches are. For lunch I ate leftovers from my dinner the night before, then I had to try to figure out how to negotiate my way to visit my cousin on the north side of Tel Aviv near the University. Because of my experience with the taxi bringing me here, I didn’t want to be taken again. I looked up online approximately how much it would cost, and I tried to call a taxi company but everything was in Hebrew and I got one of those automated answering robots who told me to push certain buttons if I wanted something, but I couldn’t figure out what buttons I was supposed to be pushing. So with that a hopeless task, I decided to try my luck at hailing a cab. Somebody pointed me to a taxi stand spot a few blocks away. The first cabdriver I spoke to wanted to charge me 150 shekels, which was twice as much as what it said online. So I said forget it and walked off. Then I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I spotted a bus stop, and I figured I would ask people at the bus stop if they spoke English and could direct me. Nobody did. In Bat Yam almost no one speaks English. I found out why. Most of this area is populated by Russian Jews who recently settled in the area. I don’t happen to speak Russian or Hebrew. As I was standing at the bus stop I spotted a taxi driving by, and I hailed it down. I asked him how much and he said 70 shekels. I jumped right in. It’s amazing how the taxis just try to take you for a ride around here on top of the ride they’re supposed to be taken you on. I had not seen my cousin in about 15 or 20 years. She gave me a hard time about not staying over at her house, because my parents and grandparents were so nice to her when she came to the States a few times. I told her I have to leave for the airport at 2:00 AM, and I didn’t want to disturb her. That was no excuse to her. I’ll know better next time, I said. We had a good time catching up on family matters, and she took me to an early dinner. Then I took a taxi home—at first this guy said 100 shekels, but after I turned him down it somehow miraculously went down to 80. Since beggars can’t be choosers, I took it. After I did I wondered whether I would have enough shekels left to pay for the taxi to get to the airport, which Raizel had booked for me. But I counted and I just barely made it. Whew. If I can get to sleep by 8:30 PM, at least I can get five hours of sleep before having to wake up at 1:30 AM. The odds are against it.