May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

From Jordan to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem,

Zombie hates doing his laundry

October 31—Tristan dressed as a zombie, and was a terrible sight.  J  I enjoyed teaching the large class at the end of the day, and I’m happy that Ryugi seemed pleased with their progress.  I learned so much about the Palestinian/Israeli rift from Ryugi.  Among many things, there are kids who will answer the question, “Where are you from?” with, “I was born and live in Jordan, but I’m Palestinian.” 
Though they have never been to Palestine, they know where their tribe village is and long to return.  This longing has been passed down a few generations now.  I can’t get my mind around the depth of the resentment they feel for having to flee.  Ryugi says that if they all go back at the same time, there won’t be enough room or economic support for them.  And then what will the Jews do when suddenly they are outnumbered and can’t make the country live by the laws of Judaism?  In his position, bringing in a guest dance teacher from Israel would be taken much more as a (hateful) symbolic gesture than a simple act of broadening dance education.  However his colleagues don’t have to worry about issues of sexual harassment, sexual orientation, or the kinds of suits we base policy around because we fear them, as these aren’t part of their culture.  I finally fell asleep after a horror flick on TV.
Les makes dinner

Amatai's kitchen window

Our couches

November 1—Early morning took us to bustling Tel Aviv.  We woke up our host and set up the couches so they were comfy, then went out on the town.  On the train there were soldiers with machine guns; that was shocking.  Amitai’s kitchen view is stunning.  It’s like you’re standing out in the open up high on the 4th floor.  

 His cat is named Shatuli, which is an Israeli phrase, “Somebody drank my…” You fill in the blank with whatever was yours that was taken: “Somebody drank my beer.”  “Somebody drank my wallet.”  Somebody drank my lover.”  Les and I would address the cat, “Hi, Somebody Drank My Stuff,” who was friendly and adorable.  One highlight was hanging out in the dog park watching the action and getting some pets in.

Somebody Drank My Stuff

first synagog in Jaffa
November 2—We rushed to Jaffa, where we took a free walking tour.  It was wonderful to see the other side of the Mediterranean Sea.  We looked at the flea market, the restaurants, the museums, artist’s studios, holy places and the views.

Jaffa with Tel Aviv in the back

artist studios

Door handles

One of the galleries was one of Ilana Goor’s.  It was her home, and the kitchen had a huge window that let gorgeous lighting into the big space that used to be a soap-making place.  She used found stuff in her work, and displayed other artist’s work.  We learned about how the Arabs and Jews do and don’t live together well, and about some of the history that made Jaffa thrive and then destroyed.  The US is quite a different land in that it hasn’t been built and pummeled over and over again like all the places we’ve visited on this trip.   
Israeli Dance

We had an overpriced lunch and dinner and wandered around until it was time to see an Israeli national dance and song troupe.  Our guide had told us about this when we asked if she knew any edgy theater or dance.  It was far from edgy; the best thing about it was that the audience sang along to the songs in between the dance acts.  The folks next to Les also waived their arms and clapped throughout the show.  Also, there was a mysterious black bag on stage in the shape of a body curled up.  We
didn't stay long enough to see what it held, but I hope it wasn't a person, as they had to lie there motionless for the entire first act!  We took an expensive cab back, because we couldn’t figure out how to take the bus back, then we read edgy comic books until we fell asleep (Amitai is an artist for graphic novels too).

Names of graffiti artists

November 3—We went to a graffiti artist’s exhibition after a nice cup of coffee with Amitai and a drill of an emergency alarm for the entire city, where the emergency crews go to some location where actors look like victims and they have to deal with the emergency.  The sirens were scary.  Amitai told us about the work he has done to try to get housing for poor people.  They have cracked down on squatters, and have removed people who are sleeping on the streets.  He organizes demonstrations and attends gatherings of activists to try to make Tel Aviv a better place for all people.  He sees the plight of the Palestinians, and works to make communication and living better for everyone, no matter their religious background.  I admire his chutzpa and tenacity.  So this exhibition of street art was special in that the gallery gave over its walls to these artists to make work.  I enjoyed the range of art, and seeing the themes with which these people work.   
If I give up my arms will you teach me?
Then we made our way through the cinema, through the dog park, through the bazaar, to the Suzanne Dallal Dance center where one of my favorite dance companies lives—Batsheva.  They were not performing, so we bought tickets to a showing of local choreographers.  I loved the movement styles of the dancers.  I had never seen that kind of tension that held the knee straight while the upper body rippled.  The dancers were unique, the music was sound that drifted in an out or was generated by a mic on the stage with reverb.  The second dancer used her fluffy curly red hair to full advantage as she displayed a huge range of delicacy and strength with her head shaking, several dynamic front handsprings landing on feet and butt, and tiny little screams as she poked her own belly and looked sideways.  I was dreaming in and out of the third dance with a live musician and three dancers.
November 4th takes us to Jerusalem!  After having a shockshuka sandwich (tomato sauce and egg in a sandwich with hummus, tahini, parsley, eggplant, chili, pickles, tomato, cucumber and one ball of falafel), we caught the bus to the bus station; it is in a mall.  Any time you go into a mall, there are guards there looking for weapons.  He opened both my packs, but couldn’t get very far in my huge pack.  The bus to Jerusalem leaves every 15 minutes, and the bus was full.  The taxi took us to the home of Itiel and Liron and their little dog Koshi.  Liron took us to the corner-gathering place and we had coffee.  Suddenly it was packed, and they sang happy 60th birthday (including a big celebration cake) to a local guy.  Downstairs is a gallery; locals bring in soup or desserts for the place to sell. 
Then we made our way to the local Friday market for some bread, hummus, cheese and fruit until the official Jews came with horns to close down the merchants who were dragging their feet, because it was Shabbat.  

 Every business (including transportation) must close for Friday night until Saturday night.  The frenzy was exciting as we headed back to munch on some bread, hummus, olives and dates.  Our hosts were very helpful and gave us flowery tea as we worked on the computers.  Neighbors gathered outside our door (very crowded neighborhood—I like it) to talk into the night.

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