Monday, September 15, 2008

People Are Alike All Over

Although we've been home for a couple of weeks now from our trip, it's still very much on my mind. I wouldn't call myself the most well-traveled person around, but I've definitely been to a number of places around the globe. There is one common occurrence just about everywhere I go, and that's the subject of this post.

As I've mentioned, on this trip to Belgium, we rented a car which gave us the opportunity to escape go places we wouldn't have the ability to get to otherwise. One place we visited was the caves of Han-sur-Lesse, a huge cave system by the River Lesse in the French-speaking part of the country.

The French-speaking area of Belgium, or Wallonia, has its own distinct building style and overall look, different from Flanders, or the Flemish part (both photos below are of Wallonia).

Walking through the caves is done with the help of guides, and the lines lead you to guides given in either French or Flemish (Dutch). RaggedyDad knows both, but preferred Flemish. In order for me to understand the tour, though, he tried to find out whether an English tour would be starting anytime soon.

We walked up to the head of the line and stood off to the side to wait, and that's when I heard it. "Eldar! Tered mehagader! Achshav U'Miad!" (Eldar! Get down from the fence! Immediately!) Yes, indeed. We had stumbled upon a large contingent of Israeli visitors to Han-sur-Lesse. On a Hebrew tour, of course. And they were more than glad to have us piggy-back along on their tour. So we got to listen to descriptions of stalagmites and stalagtites in Hebrew, interspersed with some Flemish courtesy of a neighboring group, and exchanged some small talk with Israelis along the way.

I smiled to myself for a while about the Israeli tour. It's probably because I just notice the familiar more, but I seem to find Israelis wherever I go. For this trip, Han-sur-Lesse seemed to be our Israeli interaction locale.

Until we got to the airport back in Cologne, that is. Once quick glance at my passport (place of birth: Tel Aviv) and the security check-in person assigned to our family gave me a once-over. The first words out of her mouth? "Efshar lehamshich itach b'ivrit?"


Erachet said...

Hooray for finding the familiar among the strange! This post made me feel all warm and fuzzy. :)

torontopearl said...

I love finding Hebrew-speaking individuals in the most unexpected places in Toronto and abroad.

Over the years I've shocked many Hebrew-speaking people when I've interrupted their conversations by tossing in a comment/question or two of my own in Hebrew....and then continuing to have a conversation with them.

See what Jewish day school and a love of language can give you? The ability to be mistaken for a native Israeli...

Love your episode at the airport.

SaraK said...

My friends just went to India and found more Hebrew speakers than in Israel!