Nicht verzagen, Elias fragen...don't worry - ask Elias:-)
I met Elias when attending the Bethlehem EAPPI handover party. He was one of two taxi drivers among the local contacts and the other taxi driver had just smashed his car...lucky me.
Today Elias is not only my advisor, taxi driver, shopping aid and handyman, he is also my best friend in Bethlehem and a close confidant.
Elias and his family (wife of nearly 22yrs and his much loved four wonderful, lovely, cheery, talented and absolutely adorable children) live opposite the wall and Checkpoint 300 through which one normally enters Bethlehem. In spite of working two jobs (receptionist at the Grand Hotel each night from 10pm to 8am) and, the view from his place representing the outer appearance of the manifold imprisonments in this country, he is actually the most humorous, caring and gallant person. The spirit which carries him through the hardships of his life is more than applaudable.
Which brings me to rave about his various talents resulting in the ability to provide the following services:
- Taxi services day and night, inside and outside the country (his cool elderly cousin Raymond can take you to and from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the airport - basically anywhere besides Gaza and the places you would need a boat to get to). When flying in and out from Amman Elias can take you to Allenby Bridge and tell you how to go on from there - if you find somebody to share the ride with, he will be happy that you can share the fare.
- finding a house in or around Bethlehem
- showing you around: the touristy sites in the area, the dead sea, Jericho, the convents in the desert, the glass factories in Hebron - he knows basically every stone and the names of the donkeys waving from the roadside...
- being a perfect shopping assistant: where to get the best quality and priced vegetables and fruits, which supermarket has the best deals on household goods, where to buy furniture, kitchen ware, TV, fridge and washing machine - his negotiation skills are unbeatable and the most invaluable thing: where to buy beer in Bethlehem at any time of the day or night...
- helper in all emergencies: he knows who can help you where, when, with what - this is just in case he is unable to spend the whole day with you at the police station after the most stupid accident in history, which doctor or dentist to consult, why the electricity in your house is not really working and how to fix hooks to porous walls....
- partner in setting up and equipping a home - whatever you need - you name it and he will find a place to get it from and help you to put in in the right place...never getting tired of discussing whether the picture should be placed more up or more down, left right or centre, which colour will be good for curtains and where to shorten the same. He will find you a place to get pictures framed just the way you want them, mirrors for the bathroom, beautiful lamps at half price...the whole paradise of shopping and he even goes into the perfection of taking you to the cheapest places first, gradually moving up the price ladder in case of need...Elias is the kind of guy who keeps your interest in mind much better than you could yourself...he will joke you out of disappointments and share your joy whenever something good happens.
- he knows everyone and everyone knows him - so far, I haven't found anything he cannot give me advice on how to go about it from where to find the best coffee and pizza and/or Nargile (Shisha) in town to the fastest affordable internet connection. he can find you a reliable cleaner and if there are any repairs he cannot do himself (haven't encountered this situation as yet) he will bring you the best person for the job, negotiating an appropriate price for you...
- the most recent discovery is, that Elias can build beautiful bird cages and even provide the little canaries or other colourful birds to fill them with life - and tell you all about how to nourish it
I am sure that this is a very incomplete list of his abilities but I am happy to give frequent updates:-)
My recommendation goes in particular to those not speaking Arabic (Elias speaks English, as well as some Spanish and German) and to independent females who are trying to set up a working life in Palestine and need a driver they can feel absolutely safe with.
Undoubtedly Elias is a rather charming kind of guy but a perfect gentleman and chaperone at the same time. I am supporting his business as I find it a shame that so much talent and resourcefulness go undiscovered, basically working close to 24hrs a day without nearly earning enough money to cater to the need of his family, let alone his own
(Famous Quote "I don't need anything - only if you go to Jordan, bring me some whisky from the duty free...white label - it's the best...").
Ah, last but not least I should mention his life saving services: he will bring you a huge pizza and soft drinks within no time when trying to recover from a hangover begging for any kind of hearty food. And if you honour this special service adequately and he likes you, he might even come and bring you breakfast including making fresh omelettes on the spot, to revive you and your guest which you had to pick up from the airport in the middle of the night...
Eli the Taxi Wizard:
Elias Anastas: +972 (0)599085345
+ 972 (0)522671583