Courtesy Lacks, Hospitality Flows
This place glows like an ember, no flame visible at the moment but still white hot and ready to kindle. Thoughts in Israel course through my head at an uneven pace, all day; completely unlinear, in a fashion like exploding fireworks. When it comes time to just sit down and channel them, it can be somewhat challenging. Even in an internet cafe with keyboards whose keys are splashed with asdfgh;lkj right along with שדגכעיחלךףץ.
My lungs feel different after smoking my traveler days away. Not sure why I smoke (at a snails pace) in other countries, I guess it just adds more to the traveler high. It's still pollution, and the smoke from the tobacco competes right along with the pollution of stimulus emitting from Tel Aviv streets. These streets that are comprised of a frenzied chaos, at times friendly, at times ugly, just ready to spill. Wes and I walked down Ben-Yahuda street this morning, looking to post up in a cafe for coffee and people watching, the sun radiantly shining, air as crisp as it was in times BCE. The walk was made memorable by the sight and sound of one Israeli aggressively barking out chunks of Hebrew, hearty and heated in tone, at another Israeli nonchelantly leaning on a kiosk counter giving no response. The cereal of the agitated Israeli must have really been shat in, because he was pissed. It did not turn violent and it was nice to see the passion.
The culture of Israel has this passion. That somewhat "in your face" kind of colour, which comes through in the absence of American politeness. Go ahead and tell me I am full of shit, that that phrase is an oxy moron. Ok it is. However I feel in certain ways it has merit. This kinda feels like walking through a minefield. In my little corner of white bread, corn fed and coffee satiated America, "pleases" and "thank yous" echo off walls adnosium, places in supermarket lines are respected, the other guys' time is just as valuable as my own.
Israeli culture just barely lacks this little area of courtesy, but I think it adds to the overall flavor. And its not to say that it isnt made up for in other ways. Israeli hospitality is warmer and more bountiful than the sun's solar energy, (assuming you are first their friends and you are not firing rockets into their lands). My brother and I have been sitting under the blessing of Israeli hospitality, completely shocked and bewildered at how much love we have been treated with. We have been taken in a number of times now, by distant family relations, by soldier houses, by volunteer acquaintances, by a soldier named Noam, by a girl named Effie who I met in some distant Argentinian town and her friend Imbal. We were fed, housed, bedded; given a warm place to relax and feel good, free from crowded hostel dorms packed to human bunkbed capacity. Effie and Imbal made us t-shirts, Noam (a masculine, ladykilling, medic from our birthright trip) made us pita and hummus sack lunches with an extra serving of soul, Nancy and Don showed us what a family Shabbat was like in the holy land.
I am still left reeling from all we have recieved, and I can only hope to give back as much as was recieved; to give more would simply be an impossibility. Well this has been therapuetic, nice to just get my thoughts out for one day. My trip is nearing its end, America is less than a week away. Jerusalem, a city of Gods, of both martyrs and machine guns, will be our last destination. I cannot wait.