Today is יום חמישי (Yom Hamishi - Thursday) and another week has flown by. From Shabbat to Shabbat, there is a rhythm to everyday life that is marked by work days, holidays and the weekend. But the weekend here starts Thursday when everyone panics that there isn't enough food in the house for Shabbat dinner or enough to last the one day שוק (the shuk) is closed.
Today, I tried to get to the market early to avoid העגלות (the carts) and אופניים (bicycles) and מוכרים (the vendors) constantly resupplying דוכנים (the stalls). I have my favorite places - good product and decent service and I have the "never go back there again unless you are absolutely desperate" places.
Most of what I know about the shuk I learned from my son Avi. Long before he was a מורי דרך (tour guide) he had scoped out the best stalls and the best prices. It may all look like the same stuff, but it isn't. The guy with the beautiful fruit who only sells it by the carton is guaranteed to have put the the really old stuff in the bottom - a known strategy that works on all the newbies.
In any event. I was looking for Moroccan olives, hummus, labane, fennel and dill. I have two small leather pouches to hold my cash and cards. The coins are so heavy that I keep them separately. No one in the shuk wants to take 200 NIS bills. Everyone wants כסף קטן (small money). I apologize every time I have to use a large bill so I try to break them before I get to the vendor. This usually leaves me with lots of coins, bills in my pocket, bills in the coin purse and some change in with the cards. Paying becomes a juggling act. I am packing, paying and repacking as fast as I can so that I don't get run over by the next customer or forget my bag because עגלה (baby stroller) is right under my bum.
I bought what I needed and paid for some things with loose change from my pocket. Proud of myself for once again being able to navigate the whole thing in Hebrew and not stumble and mumble my way through the exchanges.
When I got home I received a text from Avi saying that "they have my wallet - please phone him".
Seems I left my purse - the one with the real money and the cards at the דוכן דרוזי (Druz stand) when I bought the hummus and the labane.
OMG, OMG, how could I be so careless? Easily.
The Druz woman, (Rada), who runs the stand makes the best hummus and pita. Watching her throw the dough on the pillow and then on the fire is worth the 6,000 mile trip from the USA.
Rada knows Avi. He has been going there for years. And she knows I am Avi's mother. She also knows that Avi takes food tours through the shuk for Delicious Tel Aviv. But she does not know Avi's last name and does not have Avi's phone number.
But...just when she discovered the wallet, another tour guide - Moran (thank you Moran) from Delicious Tel Aviv was walking by with a group. Rada recognized her and told her that they had Avi's mother's purse. Could she please call Avi to come and get it.
Long story short. Because of the goodness of Rada and her family - fueled by hummus - I am now back in possession of my wallet.
Tomorrow is Friday. She will not be there. But next week I will stop by and thank her and buy some extra - maybe bring a gift.
I feel truly grateful for people like Rada and for the wonderful set of circumstances that made another crazy day in the shuk, memorable.