Guess who’s back?

Thus I return shamefacedly to the blogosphere after a truly prolonged one-month absence.  It has been far too long, my friends.  I know you’ve all been biting your nails to the quick, desperate for news of my life.  Has she been wandering in the desert of Israel?  Dallying with her hordes of suitors?  Or working in an office by day and doing more Bahá’í activities by night?

Ok, all three have been a little true, but mostly the latter.  But I did have a very important break from my routine: Jazzy came!

That’s right, and I’m just now recovering.  As of a few days ago, no longer does putting on my jacket chafe my elbow wound excruciatingly.  No longer am I partially deaf.  Just kidding, Jasmine, it was precious to be with you and suffer multiple physical privations together, one of them the cold that you brought for me (imported from the good ole U.S. of A.!).

The elbow–ah, yes.  When I knew that Jasmine was coming, several months ago, I started planning our itinerary.  She would volunteer while I was in the office, and then when out of the office, we would go to the Bahá’í Shrines and then explore Haifa and Israel with my boundless energy.  Seriously, this was the most amazing, compulsive itinerary, with a full spectrum of color codings.

Jasmine gets a taste of Israel

Jasmine gets a taste of Israel

One of my goals was to have Jasmine visit the Dead Sea.  It was such a strange, otherworldly experience for me to float upon the water and look across the sea to the mountains of Jordan.  So Jasmine would float there too.  Thing is, it’s rather far from Haifa–three hours one-way–and I’m too dangerous a driver to rent a car here.  So I organized a ten-person sherut trip.

I had been the concerned about the temperature.  I mean, “beach in January” sounds rather unappealing, unless you’re a penguin.  But thankfully, the temperature was as cooperative as possible.  The real problem was the wind, which stirred up waves–not whitecaps or anything, but still, steadily rolling, hyper-saline waves.

As we walked down to the beach, we passed two other members of our group.

“How was it?” I asked.

“I would not recommend going in,” one replied.  “I got water in my eye.”

After that ringing endorsement, we went in.  I think we managed to get at least a few moments of calm floating in, although the waves made me nervous.  Jasmine glommed onto me and we floated side-by-side like a human raft.

We were actually moving quickly away from our point of departure, pushed by the waves.  “Let’s try and get back to the shore,” we decided.  So we “swam” Dead Sea style, doing a slow, splash-less backstroke.

Five minutes later, my friend Reggie, who was accompanying us, said, “Hey, remember when we said ‘let’s get back to the shore?’  We’re actually farther out now…”

And now I was tired.  Thankfully he offered us a lift back, grabbed my leg, and pulled me (with Jasmine in tow) back to the shallows, where I managed to get water in my mouth and eye.  We at last hefted ourselves out.

My other friend joined us onshore.  “You’re bleeding,” he pointed out.

“Oh, interesting,” I said.  There was a scratch on my back, scrapes on my elbow, and little scratches on my forearms from a run-in with a salty rock formation.  And poor Jasmine’s feet were wounded, which was not helped by the extremely painful barefoot journey across the sharp stones of the shore back to our things.  I clenched my teeth and pretended I was one of those silly people who test their resolve by walking across hot coals.  Actually, hot coals might have been preferable.

Eventually, two freezing public showers later, we got back in the sherut.  I examined my wounds.  “Souvenirs,” I concluded.

“Well, I’m glad I got to see the Dead Sea,” Jasmine said, “because now I know I don’t need to go back there.”

I smiled, dabbing some dried salt off her cheek.  That’s my girl.

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