Living in a third world country

Before we moved here, I seriously thought Israel was a developed country. In no way comparable to other countries of the Middle or Near East. With a higher standard of development even compared to Southern European countries. Comparable to the US and Northern Europe.


Let me write a little disclaimer before I get myself started. Because it is, of course, a possibility we should not ignore that we live in a dump. That the house we rent is unusually prone to breakage, leakage and infestations of non-human kind.

And it is also possible that my eye is drawn to shortcomings in town that I tend to overlook in the good old comfortable clean ‘burbs that I left in the Netherlands. And that other places I lived in Europe and the US happened to be pristine compared to here. I have lived in South America and the state things are here comes quite close to the memories I have of the state things were in South America. Twenty years ago.

Since we moved into this place we have had rainwater flood down the walls, with mold growing on the ceiling and walls soon after.

Some locks can not be used, and thus we have two doors that are perpetually semi-open. Do not tell anyone thankyouverymuch.

The fuse of the hot water boiler burnt through, black melting plastic and all.

A shower head broke off. A toilet got blocked. A shower tube broke off the wall. The shower floor now seems to be leaking water into the neighbor’s kitchen right under it.

In a country where drinking water is scarce, we seem to have a little bit too much of a good thing. A week ago we woke up at six AM to the sound of rushing water. The entire apartment had an inch of water on the floor. A tube under the sink had snapped off. We could only stop the water by turning off the main tap. That we found around the corner in another street. Since it was stuck, we accidentally broke off the entire meter. Causing the water to gush out and cover the whole street. When we cut off the apartment complex nobody even seemed to notice the oddity of not being able to use water for a while. I guess it is not such an oddity here.

But then again, water might not be used that often: recently we were warned not to use the “safe and delicious” tap water for drinking because it had been contaminated. For days. And when we do not get warnings about contamination, the water is often brownish.

The door to the balcony broke off it’s hinges. The balcony itself can not stand water on it or it will leak through the balcony floor right into our downstairs neighbor’s house. Needless to say the neighbors living underneath us love us.

Our middle daughter surprisingly enough still begs for a pet, while there are so many already living with us: cockroaches crawl over our counter at night, ants tend to think even bedrooms are a great place to live, mosquitos and flies are everywhere.

And it is not just our house that has a third world country-esque ring to it: It seems to be perfectly acceptable here to have electricity cables going from one place to another held up with sticky tape only. Cockroaches roam the streets even with broad daylight. Garbage is everywhere. As are stray cats, or the occasional dead rat, dead dog and many a dead bird.

For the sustainable at heart this was a country that forced me to adjust a little. To say the least. Green living is possible, but hard in a city like Jerusalem. And with the war going on, I just can not bring up the energy to throw my garbage in different and far apart recycle bins.

I am not saying it is wrong or weird, I am just saying it is not what I expected. I thought Israel and the US were in the same league, developmentally. My mistake, my bad.

And maybe, just maybe, this also explains why at this time, the political situation in this country is as it is.


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