It’s 43 degrees in Israel and it’s snowing in England. I’m due to fly to La Palma to scout out some land for a future artist village and then make a new home in Italy. Would God laugh at our intentions as well as our plans?
I stuff some 25 second hand books into my rucksack, throw away the clothes with more than one hole in them, squash in the clarinet, sleeping bag, tent and yoga mat and by the time I have the zi shut I’m sweating like a pig.
Or perhaps I should use a more kosher image as I’m sitting in my soon-to-be-deserted apartment in Tel Aviv and it’s 43 degrees outside. It’s only the end of March but the khamsin winds have blown in and now the girls are making the city beautiful again in their summer clothes. The wind is like a hair-drier in the face and an email from a friend in England tells me to expect snow when I arrive.
Change of climate is on the same intoxicating level as culture shock.
I scan my cellphone to make sure I haven’t forgotten to say bye to anyone and reflect that in the three months that I’ve put some temporary roots down I’m surrounded by more warm, loved friends than in any point in the last 10 years.
So why am I moving on?
Israel isn’t my home though and for all the good food, friends, sun and Yemenite beauties walking the streets, I won’t miss the car alarms, the beep of traffic when the light turns yellow and the construction that takes place all over the neighbourhood. Just 2 weeks previously I’d been bedridden with the flu and woke up at 8am to discover workmen boring a hole in the corridor wall with a pneumatic drill. No warning.
A taxi takes me to the airport and true to form the driver complains about the lousy drivers in Israel. As stereotypical as his laments are, he has a point. More people have died in road accidents in Israel than all the wars put together. He hears that I’m about to head to England, the Canary Islands and Italy in the next month and he congratulates me on my freedom.
“When you get married you’ll look back sadly on all the Israeli, Spanish and Italian girls you used to have.”
He’s a good guy and I improve his mood by giving him the leftover coins in my pocket as a tip.
The train takes me to Ben Gurion airport and I reflect that I’ve actually managed to stay within the bounds of my visa this time. On my previous 4 visits I overstayed, a fact pointed out by the immigration officer when I entered the country again 5 months ago.
“You overstayed in 2006 and 2005 – tell me, why should I let you in?”
I refrained from mentioning that I’d also stayed as long as I felt like in ’99 and 2000. Strange that a country as paranoid as Israel shouldn’t keep their computer records up to date.
“I’m very sorry. I made a mistake and I’ve learned my lesson.” I tell him and he looks back at me nonplussed. Israelis are so used to fighting all day that they’re often caught off-guard when someone is calm and courteous.
“Alright, but if you overstay this time…”
But though immigration will have no beef this time, security always pick me out as a potential problem. My bags are all fastidiously unpacked by a security team wearing polythene gloves and they check every book, sock and tube of toothpaste for explosives. The search takes a good 45 minutes but at least they don’t put me through 20 questions like the last time I passed through here – the chief of airport security had been a hot chick and she caught me staring at her ass suspiciously. That set me up for another half hour of questions that left me wanting only to confess to whatever they wanted.
“How long have you spent in Israel? Who do you know here? How do you know them? What are their names? What do you do in England? Why are you going back there? Who will you call when you arrive?”
These guys would never run short of conversation on a date. No awkward silence scenarios.
Finally, they get bored of me and I’m allowed to check in and wander through to the hub of the airport and everywhere I hear French. Since the far-right gained momentum in France a couple of years back, the French Jews fled the country in high numbers to come and buy their bit of Mediterranean real estate in the Promised Land. The buildings often stay empty most of the year and rent in Tel Aviv has doubled. But the guys who sell in the markets are picking up their basic French and rumour has it that the next real estate rush will be the nouveau-riche Russians. Otherwise known as the mafia.
I’m due to land in a late-winter England for a few days before a plane takes me out again to La Palma, the least developed of the Canary Islands where there’s the last few days of a Rainbow Gathering. My idea is to check out the price of land and see about setting up an intentional artist community. If i can’t find any place in this world to live I might as well make my own.
The summer is coming and my novel for older children, “Bozo and the Storyteller:http://www.bozoandthestoryteller.com, is about to be published. I’m thinking to go and live somewhere along the north-west coast of Tuscany to sit on the internet and promote the hell out of it. Then again as the Euro is getting stronger by the day and I earn in dollars, it might make sense to go somewhere cheap. Like Hawaii.
I’m sitting on top of my bags, wondering how many airports I’ve passed through in my life. Do I go only in circles or is it some kind of spiral, leading towards a light at the end of the airport tunnel? In a world of immense possibilities, if you let Fate lead you by the nose you can end up anywhere. Trust me. But doing anything, anywhere with anyone loses its appeal after a few years. Like my old guru told me:
“It’s your movie, if you don’t like how it’s going just write yourself a better part in the script.”
We might make God laugh by telling him our plans but not, perhaps, by telling him our intentions.
The last call for my flight sounds and its like a funeral horn. Every time I leave a country it’s like dying, the plane my hearse. The good times and friends I leave behind in exchange for yet another unknown.
But tomorrow I’ll be reborn.