monday memories / RTW trip: the promised land

while i have my around-the-world photos out from their usual home in the garage, i think i’ll continue telling some more stories from that adventure. after the last post about egypt ... 

we took a bus from cairo -- worrying if there would be any issues entering israel from an "arab country" (no problem) -- to jerusalem. spent a few days in the old city, soaking up the ancient ambiance and the LIGHT reflecting all that white and gold colored jerusalem stone from which the entire city is made. stunning.

i love love love the church of the holy sepulchre where they say christ was crucified, buried and resurrected. the space divided into six sections for six different christian denominations. the entire ceiling adorned with ancient oil lamps and incense burners, making it easier to imagine what it might have been like 2000 years ago. dark. mysterious. holy.

arab market, old jerusalem

my other favorite thing in the old city was watching everyone scurry around on friday afternoon, running last minute errands and doing last minute doings before shabbat which paralyzes the place. no running, no errands, no doing from friday sunset til saturday sunset. everything closes. full stop. a real day of rest. the one thing open on shabbat is the wailing wall, where many and especially the orthodox converge to sway and pray. we placed little notes to god in the crevices of the rocks, along with all the other notes from people over hundreds of years. 

my friday afternoon scurry to the store before sunset ended in tears. just outside the jaffa gate to the old city, a huge man was selling postcards displayed on poles. laden with a plastic bag of groceries in each of my hands, i stopped to look at his cards ... when he reached up with both hands and touched my breasts. fucker! enraged at him and at all the men who had dared to touch me throughout our trip and throughout my life, i dropped my bags and pounded on his chest. i always thought i was the kind of girl who could throw a punch as good as the guys. NOT. i pounded away while he -- completely unfazed -- just laughed and laughed at me. aaaaaaarrrrrggggggghhhhhhh. adrenaline racing, i picked up my bags and marched away. i thought about going to the police. but i just wanted to retreat to the safety of curt and our little room. (rrrrr. this still makes me mad as hell!)

then we moved to kibbutz yahel, an amazing piece of green in the negev desert right next to jordan, for a month. 

most kibbutz employ "volunteers" ... usually young travellers who work in exchange for room and board and per diem. we worked HARD in the HOT sun -- curt picking watermelons, me packing galia melons -- made $120 per person per month and spent it all at the kibbutz store on chips, ice cream, water and beer. 

NOTE: the above photo was the security memo they gave us upon arrival at yahel. THIS IS THE LAST PHOTO i have of our RTW trip. and i'll tell you why next week. below are photos i found on the internet of yahel ... 

when we weren't working, we swam in the beautiful swimming pool and sipped in the bombshelter bar. other than that, we slept. didn't have much contact with the kibbutzim. while israelis are renowned for their exotic good looks ... they are not famous for their politesse. from my journal pages ...

the kibbutzniks treated us a hair better than they treated the arab workers. then the office ladies read my postcard on which i said just that and then they were REALLY RUDE to me.  

NOTE: 20 years later, i now know what a stupid/insipid/immature thing that was to think/say/write on a postcard. but it's what i did at the time.

but then there was also this from my journal:

in spite of everything, we did learn a bit about what kibbutz life is like, and had good times as well:

- waking up at 5am, dawn, and hearing hundreds of birds chirping away. slouching to the dining hall to find a cup, any cup, and wash it and fill it with instant coffee.

- driving the tractor to the dump, amidst all those hazy purple mountains, and the mountains of jordan, and feeling very free.

- going running around the perimeter road, inside the barbed wire, happy to be in a country again where they don't think you're totally crazy for doing such a thing, especially a woman.

-working so hard all you could do is go home, take a shower and fall asleep -- totally exhausted after a hard day's work. it actually felt GOOD some days, if our bodies weren't too sore.

- seeing bicycles left in the middle of the paths with no worry, never to be stolen.

we had committed to staying two months at yahel, but left after one. and i even had to talk curt into staying for the whole month. his work in the fields was really tough. so after our 30 days, we hopped a bus and went north to haifa, where we ate the best falafel in the world at a little sidewalk stand. which signaled our exit from the promised land. and thus we headed north via ferry to greece ... 


lessons learned: manual labor can be very gratifying and grounding. a weekly, real day of rest is beautiful and revitalizing. 


put on the to-do list: learn how to throw a proper punch.