Zevin played hookie from his last day of fourth-grade so we could make it to our flight to Israel on Wednesday, kicking off a three-and-a-half week trip that will include some time on the canals of Brittany and a stop in London.
We flew Jetblue to JFK (Zevin’s favorite airline, due to their free seat-back movies and passenger-accessible cabinet of snacks, and my favorite airline due to their free wifi) and then caught a 1 am Aeroflot flight to Tel Aviv via Moscow. Due to the size of the overhead bins on the Airbus 330 plane, we were required to check all our luggage, even our smallish rollerbags, and boarded with just small backpacks with books, computers and plane snacks.
Our plane made it out of JFK about an hour late, leaving us just 30 minutes to sprint from one terminal to the next through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. With some assistance from the staff there, who helped us navigate the labyrinthine airport and skip security lines, we made it.
Our luggage did not.
It took some time for us to notice that everyone else on the flight had collected their bags and left, and no more bags were coming, and yet there were still about two dozen people, most of whom had originated with us from JFK, standing around the empty carousel baggage carousel at Ben Gurion aching to get to bed after 19 hours on planes.
Eventually, we found our way to the lost and found, struggled through a polyglot crush of similarly disinherited passengers, filled out the requisite forms and made our way to our Airbnb, with little more than the clothes on our backs.
This was more problematic than it sounds (and, to me, it already sounds pretty problematic) because Michelle and Zevin’s gluten-free, potato-free, soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free diets require that we travel with key staples, medicines and supplements, especially when traveling in areas that rely on these ingredients for their mainstays. All the food Michelle had carefully planned and packed was somewhere behind the Iron Curtain.
We made the best of it, though, making our way the next day to local markets where we could find fresh fruit and vegetables and even a health food store with a celiac storekeep who helped us with the Hebrew labels. About 24 hours later, the last of our bags were delivered to our apartment, and we eagerly dug out fresh clothes and scarce foodstuffs.
And then, this ancient city, with its mix of ancient and modern, East and West, finery and filth, sacred and profane (although, honestly, there is very little of last bit.) I could wander the streets for days and never get bored.