Ahhhh! falling behind. Breathing in the smog of Bangkok as I try to formulate memories of Israel into a cohesive form. Hmmm… So we left off from the Holy centre of Jerusalem. Plans had been shuffled around and a new drawing board was to be drawn up, so we decided to head back to base. On our return to Ein Gedi and the sanctuary of Tahn’s family Emm’s head filled with desert visions as the white rocky landscape rushed past the bus. A video project was born as scribbles in her diary formed with brainstorming ideas from Dotahn.
We relaxed quickly into the comfortable routine of Dod and Doda Kaspi. Happy to once again be feasting on their fabulous salads, wandering through the magical gardens and conversing once again into the night with Gil and Efrat. Tahn’s cousin Ella was also staying and a family trip to visit Mini Israel was quickly arranged. Like giant Japanese monsters we trod the paths weaving around the old rusty mechanical models. Yair commented that there was now no need to travel the rest of Israel as we have now seen the highlights in all it’s miniature glory.
Time was running out, ticking rapidly to the end of our time in the Holy land. We still had much on our “To Do” list and one of the items that couldn’t be missed was a trip into the West Bank and the town of Bethlehem. A day trip was organised and we made our way through The Wall. After bargaining with a taxi driver we found ourselves on a private tour of the touristy sites of Bethlehem and its surrounds. We found the churches in caves fascinating and got to climb over many more Roman ruins. With a few probing questions we managed to also get a small insight into life in the West Bank and the thoughts and feelings of our Palestinian driver. Emmily was amused when our driver Khaled jokingly offered Dotahn 200 camels for his beautiful wife. When Dotahn refused he offered to girls into the bargain. This was especially funny because on our journeys with Brian the subject of buying wifes came up, Dotahn had said he thought Emm was worth but 2 camels. It is lucky Tahn is not Palestinian, as Emm is obviously beyond his means. Our favorite part of the tour was when we showed delight upon seeing a huge Banksy piece. Our lovely driver then took us on a side tour of all the Banksy pieces and other graffiti art he knew.
Walls, so much focus and obsession with walls. The West Bank wall is a towering concrete behemoth crowned with razor-wire, gun towers and the ever present digital eye of the security cameras. Pristine grey on the side of Israel the wall explodes in a torrent of colour as you cross through the intricate cattle-herding maze of the border crossing. Huge murals, endless ideological scrawls, cries for help and beautiful pictures weave their way up and down the gigantic canvas. Walls around cities were commonplace in earlier times, a feeling of safety, a comfortable stone blanket around a culture. Walls have a different connotation now, but they seem to still hold a lot of importance to Israel. The wailing wall is such a small fraction of the temple mount, the only accessible point for Israelis, and the focus point for their religion. Prayers are said in earnest and given to the cracks of the wall. This wall, however, has very different connotations. Stopping Palestinians from getting out or aid getting in, it has in no way stopped the many settlements we saw on our brief tour.
Our time in En Gedi made for a perfect platform to soak up the desert and work on an idea for video art. Dragging Yair out into the 40 degree heat he graciously helped us with our harebrained project to film in the white , rocky abyss. We ended up putting ourselves out more than Yair. As he has been living there most of his life, it was the two of us that suffered the burning, sweaty madness. Who’s idea was this any way?
Who knows if it will even work? Only through pain stacking editing may the vision blossom. A more detailed exploration will one day appear in the Art category if you care to find out more.
A colorful birthday for Yaron and Naama’s son Itai was held at their house in the afternoon. Filled with fun and games for the cousins, wonderful food and cake it was a great day and a good way to say goodbye to Yaron and Naama. Highlights included an extensive game of ride-the-Gil and various platforms used for jumping onto the trampoline. Emmily beautifully decorated the special throne for Itai which saw him hoisted into the air for each year, plus one for the future. We drove back exhausted by watching the energetic throes of the children to watch another beautiful performance by Efrat who made a beautiful dedication to Emmily of a song both powerful and inspiring. Finally getting to spend some time with cousin Ella, it was a fitting goodbye to Ein Gedi and our family will be sorely missed.