Friday, November 30, 2012

Getting Used to Hard Floors as Israelis

I briefly mentioned in a previous email that one of the most frustrating aspects of our new apartment is the floor. Allow me to elaborate...

For those who haven't lived in Israel I will first explain Israeli "floor culture."  Nearly all flooring in Israel is tile.  Hardwood floors are few are far between and wall-to-wall carpeting just doesn't exist.  So, tile it is... but it's not that simple.  See, there are all different types of tile and if you ask any one who has remodeled their home here, they will tell you that the choices for tiles are endless.  Tile can vary by color, material and size.  You live and learn. Generally, as the trend seems to go, the more "updated" your floor, the larger your tiles.  You can often tell how recently a floor was redone based on the size of the tile.  Some of the newer tiles we've seen are just insanely huge - you really would never imagine tile could be this large.  Also, everyone here seems to know the size of their tiles offhand and therefore uses them as a measuring tool.  When we told some Israeli friends that we bought a tape measure to try and figure out how big certain spaces in the apartment were, they responded by saying: "why didn't you just count how many tiles it was?" 

The tile in our apartment is medium sized, beige and, whatever the material is, is ridiculously hard.  The kind of hard where everything that falls... breaks.  And by breaks, I mean shatters... into tiny sliver sized shards of glass that get stuck in your toe and you don't even realize it's there because it's so small until you try putting on a shoe and the glass sliver pushes into your skin and feels like someone is sticking a hot needle into your foot.  And it's not just glass that breaks, plastic breaks too (although notable not in the same dramatic way).  Since moving in here I (Stef) have broken quite a few things, but tied for first place are the glass grape juice bottle and the glass apple juice bottle, both of which involved tiny STICKY pieces of glass that covered the entire kitchen floor.  We are still finding remnants of these breaks - you might want to keep your shoes on when you come visit us. 

Ooopps!  Matt just broke a drinking glass... add it to the casualty list.

Which leads me to cleaning floors in Israel.  In addition to cleaning up the aforementioned glass shards, I am constantly cleaning our floor.  I don't know what it is about the tile we have here, but every spec of dirt is obnoxiously visible - every pebble, hair and fleck of dust.  Nothing is camouflaged into the wood grain or carpet texture, it just sits there looking dirty, which means I am constantly sweeping and squeegeeing.  Squeegeeing, or "sponga" as it's called, is the preferred Israeli way to clean floors.  From my experience, it can look one of a few ways.  The first way is to pour a bucket of soapy water directly on the floor and then use your squeegee to push the water around, eventually making it into a drain hole in the floor.  Alternatively you can try to mop up the soapy water with a "smartoot" (a floor rag) which you drape over your squeegee.  Or, the way we find most convenient, you dip your "smartoot" in soapy water, drape it around your squeegee, essentially making a homemade swiffer, and move it around until you think the floor looks clean enough.  We are happy to take other floor cleaning suggestions from any Israelis who might be reading this.  Leave it to say that I spend a significant amount of my time cleaning the floor (add it to the list of things to do when you don't have a tv).  

Thank you for all for listening to my rant.  As you probably understand by now, nothing really exciting happened this week.  We will be spending this Shabbat in our neighborhood and will attend a belated Thanksgiving dinner that involves "turducken". (If you don't know what that is, Google it).  Needless to say, we are very excited!

Shabbat Shalom and have a great weekend,
Stef and Matt

1 comment:

  1. Given your "situation" perhaps you could use the institutional janitorial approach to cleaning floors?

    High pressure fire hoses!!!