Monday, December 20, 2010

Mediterranean Sleeping

I was so tired I could hardly think but I had just landed in Tel Aviv, Israel and knew enough to stay in complete control of myself until at least I hit the curb outside of security. The flight in from Munich was on time and typical of Lufthansa standard but the problem was that I arrived a day later than expected. I was supposed to be coming in from Frankfurt but the delay out of Dallas caused a mad dash through Germany to get to the next available flight to the Holy Land. Instead of landing on Monday it was a Tuesday afternoon when I finally got there.

Thankfully my friends that had left earlier than I stayed abreast of my proceedings and met me with hugs and smiles all around. Welcome to Israel! Ben Gurion International Airport (and air force base) is interestingly placed almost halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The surrounding countryside and indeed throughout the whole of Israel that we would see resembled Southern California scrubland/desert in every way - mild climate, rocks, bush and stucco homes lining hills and overlooking the sea.

Somehow or other they had managed to score a beachfront hotel which was perfectly fine by me. The ocean front of Tel Aviv might as well be Miami Beach in reverse: instead of the open sea to the east it faces to the west. And then it hit me. This was THE Mediterranean Sea stretched out before me. Gibraltar lay in front of me towards the now setting sun some 2300 miles away, nearly the distance of a transcon flight in the United States. Across each of those miles lay over 5000 years of recorded human history, Egyptian, Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, Greek, Persian, Ottoman, Venetian, Jew and Moor. Ships of reed and wood sailed from nearby Jaffa, the port being mentioned as a conquered city in ancient Egyptian scrolls along with honorable mentions in the Old Testament.

And I was standing on the sands of those shores, jet-lagged like no other but amazed still at finally being in this place, this incredible land of history, mystery and misery. We were like so many other tourists to Israel in not being on the lookout for much of anything in this largest city in the country. Some might sample the nightlife but in Israel there isn't a worldwide reputation for the types of goings on one is guaranteed to find in Rio, Sydney or Miami Beach. We were there for the religious history and had only a few days for the highlights.

Tel Aviv, like any other coastal city on a Tuesday evening, was going about its business, some heading out for the evening, others enjoying a quick bite before home, most already there and getting ready for bed. I chose on this first night to sleep out on the balcony. As someone who snores I didn't want to disturb my friends in their slumber plus the October air was perfect for sleeping al fresco. I don't know if my buzz sawing carried across the other balconies nearby but it truly was a blessed evening and a most welcome rest after a solid 30 hours of travel to get there.

As much as I was looking forward to seeing all the history I was history myself as I fell asleep under the winds and stars of the Eastern Med.

Gotta go.

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