11/07  Tel Aviv, Isreal

07 Nov 1985, Posted by Scott An Chora in Travelogue, No Comments.

11/07 Tel Aviv, Isreal

The clouds parted when we reached Haifa’s harbor.  It was impressive passing right up next to aircraft carriers and battleships.  That time they passed me right through customs but not Jenni.  They couldn’t pin point why somebody would travel from New Zealand to Moscow, to Cyprus, to Israel and detained her for about forty-five minutes while the rest of us waited outside.  We read travel paraphernalia for ideas and to pass the time.  Once she got released we all wandered the waterfront in search of the train station and discovered that if we wanted to exchange currency we would need to find ourselves a bank.  Half of us went in the bank while the other half watched the gear.  I wished I didn’t leave my camera behind because the picture inside the bank was classic.  It was a typical bank line with one exception.  The third person in line for a withdrawal had a machine gun over his left shoulder.  I was unaccustomed to this type of hardware.  We purchased tickets and boarded a train into Tel Aviv.  Once in Tel Aviv we had no problem locating Hotel Joseph, the hotel we earmarked in our travel guide.  That part of the world wasn’t part of my original plan so I then had to study along the way.  I headed straight into a shower and then spent a little time reminiscing in the den alongside a beer.  Of course I missed my family, I miss my friends, my own bed, my shower head.  There was something to be said for not having routines and not knowing what the next day would bring, but always knowing it would be something I didn’t expect.  I felt open and creative, like I could hear noises in the distance that I never could before.  Some nights I dreamt of home.  I was always explaining that I wasn’t really here but somewhere else far away.  I don’t even notice anymore that the conversations that surround me weren’t in English.  You don’t need to speak the language to interact with people anyway.

I slept well and woke up late, but was still up and around earlier than anybody else in our group.  I grabbed a conformable seat in the den alongside a bummed cigarette and a morning beer and caught up on my journal.  The den had a bar and off to one side a kitchen for guests to prepare their own meals.  I noticed on their bulletin board a brochure from a sister hotel in Cairo.  They were offering a round-trip flight, two night’s accommodations and three days of transportation to and from the major attractions for only twenty-five American dollars.  Well I wasn’t going to pass that up and wrote everybody’s name onto the signup sheet.  We all decided to take advantage of the hotel’s kitchen so before the day was over we needed to gather the ingredients to prepare dinner.  Everybody we had crossed paths with was extremely friendly.  After we had eaten dinner Jenni and I were walking along the beach front when Jenni unfortunately stepped in some dog shit.  A woman walking in the opposite direction on the sidewalk noticed and pulled out a piece of tissue from her purse.  She didn’t hand it to Jenni or myself but bent down and removed the dog shit from Jenni’s shoe herself.  I’d never seen anything like that before.  The two of us ended up out on the sand relaxing in a pair of lounge chairs alongside one of the ritzier beach front hotels.  Looking out into the darkness of the water Jenni remembered that she had promised her grandmother a particular bottle of Port so we took a left and began searching the through the shops that were still open.  We had no luck but we did manage to wear ourselves out.

Bad news for our Cairo travel plans.  We learned that Libya had lined its border with Egypt with tanks and things didn’t look too inviting.  Thanks but no tanks.  Questions are always surrounding me, inviting me into the darkness.  If I fear death is that a sign that I lack faith or if that was an indication that I value life?  I believe without hesitation that I embody the motivation of a hero.  Dire circumstances tend to bring the best out of me and I would not hesitate to save anybody in need not just loved ones.  I have always felt that it was my responsibility to involve myself in situations where people are in need.  In those circumstances I don’t fear anything, or consciously choose, I just act.  Where is the line drawn between those instincts and responsibilities to love ones?  Today’s topic was war, a much different battlefield, one I would chose to avoid altogether if I had a choice.  I can imagine a gun in my hand, acting out those many movie characters engrained in my head.  I still don’t see my life ending on a battlefield, but who can tell the future?  Fanaticism and ignorance need feeding and are forever busy, and avoiding our problems is never going to lead to our solutions.  Nobody ever argues over virtues or morals.  From my perspective the understanding of the virtue or moral concept expressed within a story is the story’s true value.  Not the storyteller or the setting.  Whether it really happened or not has no bearing if the story speaks the truth, because it is the truth that is important.  The story of the boy who cried wolf is a great vehicle to teach children the downside of lying.  Nobody ever argued over the facts of that story.  How many sheep did the wolf really kill?  Where was the young boy’s family from?  We need to re-educate those cultures that perpetuate fear and create enemies by bearing false witness and start to steer societies toward the truth.

Jenni was writing out post cards in the hotels den and handed me a couple to fill out.  She suggested that we each write to the other’s parents.  I penciled out a short poem and placed a stamp on it.  “On the road once can never know the ways, the times, and the winds that blow.  At times my sight is not so clear, as your daughter’s smile, so sincere.  I’ve walked alone for days on end but today we walk together.  I wrote this postcard to let you know, she’s been my sunny weather.” I also wrote a few others to family and another to Ann, I had promised I would.

I remember the birds outside our window and a tear rolling down your face, a hug I thought would never let go, I journeyed without a trace.  I found you with God’s guidance, then journeyed to the sea, and made our bed upon the sand, the darkness, you and me

I remember you so beautiful, the lights they shinned for me, and now when I lay myself down to sleep, it’s you I turn to see. Then we wandered through the mountains, to take another stand, within the walls of the Alhambra, together hand in hand

The fire raged around us, while our passion grew and grew, now these times when I’m alone, my dreams they turn to you. I remember you so beautiful, the lights they shinned for me, and now when I lay myself down to sleep, it’s you I turn to see

I felt the pain, to say good-bye, free but so alone, and wondered if you felt the same, so far away from home

There were many times upon the road, where I stopped an thought of you, I really tried to find a way but I couldn’t make it through

I remember you so beautiful, the lights they shinned for me, and now when I lay myself down to sleep, it’s you I turn to see. You know it’s more than just a memory, within this heart you’ll stay, and helps me smile, when I’m feeling down in the midst of a lonely day

Elspeth’s plan of working in a local Kibbutz still resonated in our heads and we began taking steps towards that path.  The idea of spending Christmas in Jerusalem was an attractive proposition and one we began considering seriously.  We managed to locate the local office where there was a small group gathered in its lobby.  After waiting for a few hours without any movement, I began to lose focus and suggested we just head into Jerusalem rather than wasting any more time here.  Jenni agreed.  Dave and Robert wanted to give that venture a few more hours hoping somebody would pick them up.  Jenni and I picked up the trail of tourist and wandered about the local sights and shops until we found the bus depot and gathered up some bus schedules.  We ended our touring with the setting of the sun back in the hostel’s bar waiting for Dave and Robert to return.  After about hour or so of relaxing the hotel manager showed up with a message from Dave that stated they were successful in joining a Kibbutz.  You could tell he was very excited.  It turned out that each of them was socializing with different groups of people when a gentleman entered the lounge and said I want you and you, pointing to both Dave and Robert.  They thought the chances of that happening were slim but I on the other hand remembered that the rest waiting were female.  The real reason why I thought they stayed.  It was a long day so we decided to just hang around the kitchen and cook ourselves meal and head early to bed.  We had an early bus and valued our sleep.  It looked like I might have started something.  Jenni began keeping a journal of her own.

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    Usually behind a cup of coffee waiting for the world around me to wake up I entered today’s thoughts about yesterday’s activities into my travel journal. I’m not a writer, so I’ll apologize in advance if I jump around or seem confused. These are just the thoughts of a young man who left his possessions behind and who believes that getting lost is how one finds oneself.

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