A young man's strange erotic journey around the globe
Walking the West Bank
Palestinian Heritage Trail
As of the time that I walked this 330km route in February and March of 2020 just as COVID-19 was taking over the world, this trail running through the West Bank had been known as the Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil but I see (as of March 2021) it’s recently been rebranded as the “Palestinian Heritage Trail”
A map of the trail formerly known as Masar Ibrahim. My intention was to walk it from north to south
The Israeli New Shekel, the currency currently used in the Palestinian Territories. To enter Palestine (which to many Israelis doesn’t exist), you can cross the King Hussein Bridge from Jordan or enter through military checkpoints from the Israeli side. I opted for the latter.
I flew into Tel Aviv, took a bus from there to West Jerusalem, slept for a night, walked over to East Jerusalem, took a local Arab bus to Ramallah (the capital of Palestine), then another bus to the city of Nablus, slept a couple nights, took a bus from there to Jenin in the north of the West Bank and from there took a shared taxi to the village of Rummana which is the trail starting point.
Mickey Mouse sub Sandwiches
Some peanut butter I snacked on en route to the trail starting point. Heard it also doubles as a lube for fisting – think that’s the etymology behind the name
Day 1 – Rummana to Burquin
The official trek starting point in the village of Rummana. The overwhelming majority of Palestinian people didn’t know that this trail exists so, when asking for directions in my shitty Arabic where the trail starting point of the Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil was, most people looked at me like I was Marvin the Martian or some shit. But I got there eventually with the help of one woman in the shared taxi who knew where in the town this here sign was located.
Walking along from the starting point shown in the photo previous, following the map I’d downloaded on my GPS. Not sure if those buildings ahead are also considered part of the village of Rummana or a different village altogether
The trail wasn’t super well-marked. If it wasn’t for my GPS I’d have been lost a thousand times over, but there were markings like this scattered here and there along the length of the trail
Think I was heading towards these buildings whereupon…
…I came across these two dudes working together to build a house for the guy on the right and his family. They invited me in to show me around the construction site and then…
…invited me to share the lunch that was made by the wife of big homey on the right. If he knew any English he didn’t bust it out, but the guy on the left spoke a little and wasn’t afraid to use it. The message he kept wanting to convey over and over was that, “We like you, you good. But maybe people in next village…maybe not like you. Maybe they have gun.” And oddly enough, throughout this trek that seemed to be the norm. Most of whoever I encountered would be very gracious and welcoming but at the same time be overly-concerned about my safety and be warning me of all the dangers that lie ahead in the next village be it people with guns, rabid dogs, violent Jews, etc… Yet, with a few exceptions, most people I met this trip were quite delighted to see me and wanted nothing more than to serve me tea, buy me juice or feed me a snack and to hear about why I was in Palestine and what I thought of it.
Marching along with a tinge of anxiety brought on by the warning about these alleged people in the next village with guns that don’t like me. Then I felt silly when, in the next area with houses I walked through, a man asked me if I’d like some tea or if I’d like him to refill my water bottles for me.
Approaching Burquin where I’d be spending the night
Day 2 – Burquin to Sanur
Burquin in the morning after having spent the night in the home of a Christian Arab and his family. Before leaving town, he recommended I stop in the Church of St. George and have a look around
According to Wikipedia, the Church of St. George is considered the fifth holiest of all Christian holy places in the world. Completed in the 12th century, it’s also recognized as the third-oldest church in the world
Big JC pointing at some ripped twinks with a right-handed shocker
Everything in Palestine in early March was so green and vibrant
The old dusty trail
Found on the side of the path. Again citing Wikipedia, “Snakes and ladders, known originally as Moksha Patam, is an ancient Indian board game for two or more players regarded today as a worldwide classic…The game is also sold under other names such as Chutes and Ladders, Bible Ups and Downs, etc., some with a morality motif; a morality Chutes and Ladders was published by the Milton Bradley Company starting from 1943.”
Approaching another town
The kill zone
A butcher doing what butcher’s do best
Mosque in the village of Arraba
“(You all) Remember Allah”
Really diggin the flowers
This fella bought me some juice from the store and then invited me to chill with him for a bit to eat fruit and handfuls of sunflower seeds as I struggled to hold up my end of an Arabic conversation
Me as we’d been chillin’
You think it’s too late to save him? Should I give him CPR or something?
Beautiful sunset over a makeshift garbage dump
Heading into Sanur where I’d spend the night. Here in one of the fields off the side of the road, a pair of guys were talking and one of them called out to me in Arabic. He said something like, “Hey, what are you doing?” “Walking,” I said. “Walking?” he asked. “Just you?” “Yes, just me,” I replied. “Ah,” he said. “But why?” And I said, “Because in the news I only hear about how Palestine has many problems but I want to see it for myself and talk to Palestinian people.” “And how is Palestine?” he asked. “Very beautiful,” I said. “Inta kwy-yiss!” he shouted, meaning “you’re good.” And I concluded with, “Inta kwy-yiss k’maan!” (“you’re good too!”) before finishing up my walk for the day
Outskirts of Sanur
Entering the town
Not sure who this guy is
Watching Iraqi Family Feud with my host at his house in Sanur
Day 3 – Sanur to Sebastia
Looking back on Sanur as I leave the following morning
While walking away from Sanur on a Friday morning (the Islamic holy day of worship and rest), I came across this guy and his wife sitting in front of their home enjoying the warmth of the early morning sunlight as well as a nice little puff of argeela. The couple invited me over to sit down and the man offered me some smoke while his wife ran inside to grab a tray full of fruit for me to enjoy. This sort of hospitality is unfathomable to me. In Chicago if some strangely dressed foreigner with a backpack is walking past your house, inviting them to sit down with you and your family in your front yard is just something that’s not done. But it was appreciated.
Looking back on Sanur as I begin to climb the next hill over
Same, but higher up
Same, but even higher up
Somewhere on the side of that big old hill I encountered these guys who invited me to sit down with them for a bit to enjoy a barbecue lunch
The guy in the middle and the guy on the right of this photo were very educated (one was a doctor and the other some kind of scientist, I believe) and spoke perfect English. They had good senses of humor, were very worldly and very gracious hosts. Hands down, they were my favorite people that I encountered on this hike.
Chicken and tomato skewers cooked between two stones over the smoldering embers of twigs they’d gathered. What you see in the photo is just a fraction of all the food they had. I think they planned on just sitting up there and feasting all day
One last look back down on Sanur before…
…going down the other side of the hill.
Heading down towards that village in the distance…
…I met these two guys who invited me to sit down for a bit. I obliged but only to take a five minute water break. I was starting to get worried about not having enough daylight to make it Sebastiya and, honestly, I didn’t like these guys all that much compared to the other guys with whom I’d just shared that barbecue lunch
After passing through that little village shown two photos ago, the next task was to walk up and over this here hill. Up at the top there is a flock of sheep. And where there are flocks of sheep, there’s always loud, scary sheepdogs nearby
As I approached the top of the hill, I saw this shepherd and who are presumably his sons, who called off the pack of dogs that’d surrounded me for having gotten too close to their flock.
Aesthetically pleasing hill
Field of flowers through which the trail had led. I happily traversed this section skipping and whistling to myself like a little school girl
Ancient ruins of Sebastia
Fast food dinner
Manifestation of the tension between Israelis and Palestinians of the area
Restaurant in Sebastiya with more pro-Palestinian imagery on the wall above it
Beardo spreading his strands for your pleasure
A ride as tricked-out as this one needs not any further pimping
Day 4 – Sebastia to Nablus
The walk between Sebastia and Nablus was quite short – 10k maybe? Couldn’t have been more than 2-3 hours at a casual pace if my memory serves me correctly. I’m not sure exactly what all this construction is not too far outside of Nablus but if I had to guess I’d say it’s probably one of those controversial Israeli settlements I’m always hearing about in the news.
I was surprised how many different brands of chocolate milk were available in Palestine. It’s almost like every village had their own brand. And I had to try them all. Because I’m 100% addicted to chocolate milk. And because it’s good hiking fuel.
Awesome mural as seen while entering Nablus…
Day 5 – Nablus to Duma
Bit more of Nablus city center
The red sign is for a shop called Master Baker which…
…if you’ll notice here I exchanged the ﻛ in the second word for a ﺘ to make the restaurant’s name read “masturbator” instead of Master Baker. See! I can be an immature prick using more than just one alphabet!
My hotel room
A popular Middle Eastern dessert known as kanafeh
The pink sign in the middle of this photo says PalPay which from what I gather is the PALestinian go-to for electronic PAYments
A glance at the market in Nablus which I walked through while making my way out of the city
In the itinerary for the official group thru-hikes offered on the Palestinian Heritage Trail website, this 7km or so segment between Nablus and Awarta is done via bus or shared taxi or something of the sort because it runs along a busy, polluted stretch of highway with an Israeli checkpoint on it. I’m very stubborn, you see, and I was determined to walk ALL of the West Bank on foot. So I walked this stretch of highway and yeah…let’s just say that I definitely understand why they’ve chosen to transport the thru-hikers from Nablus to Awarta. It was pretty boring and when I started getting near the military checkpoint, an Israeli jeep pulled up and a couple armed soldiers got out and wanted to check my identification and make sure I wasn’t a suicide bomber with a backpack full of explosives looking to wipe the checkpoint off the map
At least on this stretch of highway there were a bunch of stores from where I could keep my chocolate milk buzz going all day
Some dude I met while sipping on chocolate milk
Awarta. Lots of drama between the Israelis from the settlement of Itamar (no more than a couple hundred yards away) and the Palestinians in these parts. I don’t care to get into it here but search the names of the two villages and you can learn a bit on the subject if you so choose
Passing through Awarta
Climbing up Mount Al-Arma on March 1, 2020. I met a bunch of weird guys up on that mountain that kept following me and were so concerned for my safety to the point that it creeped me out and I couldn’t wait until they’d just leave me alone so I could keep going on my merry way. They kept telling me to stop. They said the “Yahud” are going to cause me “mashakel.” Honestly, in the moment, I was less concerned about the Jews causing me problems than I was about these guys gang-raping me in the ass and tossing my body off the side of the cliff. They creeped me the fuck out. In all fairness though, I suppose their concern for my well-being was not without basis. A Palestine Chronical article printed on February 28th of 2020 had a headline reading, “70 Palestinians Injured as Israeli Forces Storm Jabal al-‘Arma Mountain” and there’s photos of an armed standoff and the Israeli army teargassing the shit out of the Palestinian villagers up there. Here’s the article for those who care to have a gander… https://www.palestinechronicle.com/70-palestinians-injured-as-israeli-forces-storm-jabal-al-arma-mountain/
Coming down on the other side of Mt. Arma
More chocolate milk
Tea break with some friendly strangers in the village of Aqraba
Heading out of Aqraba towards Duma
View of the Jordan Valley
Same deal, a bit farther along the trail
Dinner in Duma. Right before climbing up the final hill to enter this town I had to cross a highway. At the base of this hill blocking the road to this town was another Israeli army jeep similar to the one that’d stopped me earlier in the day. As I came closer to the jeep, I greeted those within; there were two guys and two girls, not much more than 20-years-old. They all spoke perfect English and were fucking around with social media on their phones. They were very nice people and welcomed me to Israel but asked me what I was doing. I told them I planned on walking up the hill into the village of Duma where I planned on spending the night. “Really?!” they said, shocked. “But a bunch of crazy violent Arab people live up there. You don’t want to go up there. They’ll kill you.” “Hmm,” I responded, “but earlier I talked to a man on the phone whose house I’ll be staying at. He didn’t seem like he had any intention of killing me. In fact, he seemed quite nice.” They just shrugged at me and were like, “I wouldn’t go up there if I were you.” I wished them all the best and told them I hope they all get to do some traveling after their mandatory military duty but before going to college as so many Israelis tend to do. They thanked me and we said goodbye. I started walking up the hill to Duma.
Posing for a pic with my host in Duma. So, how all this guesthouse stuff works is like…there are a few people in each town you pass through along the way who are affiliated with the Palestinian Heritage Trail organization and their information is listed on the website. You call them up the day before and say, “Hey, I’m walkin the trail and I’ll be passing through your town tomorrow, can I stay at your house? Yes? Ok, great. Dinner and breakfast and a small packed lunch for the next day are all included in the price ($30-40USD)? Okay, sweet. I’ll call you when I get into town. Thanks, have a good evening. Bye now.”
Day 6 – Duma to Al-Auja
Witcha Gatorade wannabe lookin ass
Entering a pretty rocky area
I was genuinely surprised when my GPS directed me to leave the road and begin scrambling up these here rocks
It turned out to be the start of a very long climb up to the village of Kafr Malik
Thankfully though, after that first bit of scrambling at the beginning, the trail kinda leveled-off and it was a nice gradual climb up to the town situated on top of that center hill in the distance
Almost there. You can see some of the buildings on top of that hill on the right side of the photo there
From Duma to Kafr Malik had been about a 15km walk with quite a bit of elevation change. Against the better judgement of my host in Duma who told me it wasn’t a good idea to walk from Duma up to Kafr Malik then down to Al-Auja in one day, I was determined to do so. I mean, I’d gotten to Kafr Malik around noon and chugged a bunch of chocolate milk while there, so…what’s another 14 kilometers of straight descent? This photo was taken while coming down on the other side of the mountain on top of which Kafr Malik sits
Working my way towards Wadi Al-Auja
How’d you like one of those crawling up your butt when you sleep at night?
Penetrating deeper and deeper into the valley
Although the water shown here at this point in the valley posed absolutely no problem for me and I was able to continue along as my GPS indicated I do, the deeper into the valley I went, the more narrow it got. And in those narrow areas, there were no dry spots where I could walk like the path you can see on the left of this water here. It was completely flooded and my GPS was telling me I needed to go through areas with water so deep it simply wasn’t passable. So I had to improvise.
I climbed up the valley walls and then continued in the direction I’d been heading, trying to walk parallel with the route mapped out on my GPS. It was the only way, I figured. I’d be making some progress but every now and then would run into a spot where it’d be too steep to pass or there’d be a cliff straight down and I’d have to backtrack and either climb higher up or go lower down the valley walls and find a new route where I wouldn’t run into such things. This is the view from my improvised parallel route. The route on my GPS wanted me to walk down at the bottom of that narrow valley but that’s where it was flooded and/or overgrown with prickly bushes.
Not gonna lie, with no end in sight as the sun began to set on Wadi Al-Auja and as I kept running into dead ends, I was getting pretty fucking scared I wasn’t gonna make it out of that valley before nightfall.
Thankfully, I made it out of the valley right around twilight. Shown here is Ein Al-Auja (Al-Auja Spring) which, as you can see, is a popular picnic spot among locals
The dinner that awaited me in a tent in the Bedouin community of Al-Auja where I arrived after dark had fallen. From every single house I passed, I was greeted by loud angry barking dogs. I called my host and he told me (in Arabic) how to get to his house. So thankful to have made it there. It was a long day. I slept like a rock that night.
Day 7 – Al-Auja to Jericho
The building in the back center of this photo is the guesthouse where I slept the night before. The building to the left of that with the three little square windows is the latrine/showers.
The guesthouse owner’s wife leading me to one of the neighboring shacks that served as the local store from where I bought my water for the day
The city of Jericho is some 250-meters below sea level and although not quite that low, I think the Bedouin village of Al-Auja was at something like 100 meters below sea level. So this area was quite a bit hotter than up by Kafr Malik (750m above sea level) the day before
A herd grazing in the hills outside Al-Auja
Coffee truck outside a school somewhere along the way. He sold an assortment of snacks but unfortunately didn’t have any chocolate milk on deck
The biggest, most multifaceted flying V formation I’ve ever seen
A lot of this day’s 16km walk was up in these hills. Pictured here is the descent from these hills down in to Jericho. Pretty much all the time I spent up there would’ve been dead silent if it wasn’t for the humming of Israeli drones overhead. At one point I hadn’t seen another living soul for a couple hours. For some reason I felt pretty anxious this day and needed to break up the monotony of walking so I decided to wander off the trail, set my bag down and rub one out behind this big boulder I’d encountered. As I mercilessly flogged my dolphin, the distant buzzing of the all-knowing eye in the sky remained constant. So, the conclusion I have to draw is that, more likely than not, the Israeli army has footage of me with my pants down, playing with myself behind a boulder somewhere up in these hills between Al-Auja and Jericho
Wild peacock snacking on the sidewalk in Jericho
Check out all this Palestinian kaak. Doesn’t this kaak make your mouth water? How could you possiblly say no to a mouthful of Palestinian kaak? I could just stuff myself silly with all that Palestinian kaak
Some bros hanging out and having a smoke on the sidewalk in Jericho
Day 8 – Jericho to Sea Level Community
One of the most picturesque breakfasts I’ve ever been served anywhere in the world
A pretty good portion of this day’s 18km walk was through a valley called Wadi Qelt, the start of which is shown here in this photo
A look back at Jericho from the where the previous photo was taken
Deeper in the valley. Right around here some local guy with a donkey asked me if I’d like to go for a ride. There really weren’t that many tourists walking through the valley so I assume business was slow. I politely declined his offer. He started following me and pretended to be my best friend in the world for a minute or two and then asked me again if I’d like a donkey ride. I again politely declined. He started telling me how poor he is and asking for money. I said that I was not comfortable with that and the guy – in his twenties I’d say – proceeded to spit on me and cuss me out. I pulled out my phone and started filming him but he covered up his face with a scarf, pulled his baseball cap down and put on sunglasses to hide his face. I kept walking and he left me alone
One last look back at Wadi Qelt
Not quite sure what this building is but I saw it a couple hours later in the day and thought it looked cool nestled between these two hills so there ya go
Those lowlands in the far top right of the picture is Jericho where I started my day before walking through all these hills and valleys
A Bedouin village nestled in the hills
Same village closer up. I can’t remember if this was the village I stayed in or if I stayed in one a little bit farther on. The village I’d been looking for was known on the trail’s website as “Sea Level Community” because – you guessed it – it’s altitude is pretty dang close to sea level
Here’s where I stayed. Pretty nice place believe it or not. The building straight back in the center was the family’s home. I did not enter there. The tent to the right was the common room to hang out in and eat meals and the rooms to the left were the guest bedrooms. The bathrooms are not pictured here but were somewhere to the right
Chillin out in the common room after a long day of walking
Dinner is served
Day 9 – Sea Level Community to Tal Al-Qamar
Some classic Judean Desert scenery for you folks here today
Can’t you picture Jesus just kickin’ it out here for forty days, fastin’ n tryin’ to get his personal shit straightened out?
Up ahead is a group of camels – one of which turned out to be quite aggressive. It approached me as soon as it noticed my presence, stared me down n grunted then followed me until I’d walked past the rest of his grazing camel clique
The desert is kind of a lonely place. Beautiful. With many opportunities for introspection. And there’s nothing quite like staring up at the night sky full of stars from the pitch black solitude of some remote desert location. But, make no mistake, the loneliness is palpable out here
Very, very hard to see but there is a shepherd crouched down on top of the green hill on the left of the photo looking down at his flock grazing at the bottom of the hill in the center of the photo
Same scene as seen from a vantage point a little closer to the shepherd mentioned in the caption of the previous photo. I ended up sitting down with the shepherd for about fifteen minutes and contemplating the scenery. He was a friendly old man with a kind smile. He asked me if I liked Trump. I don’t do politics and especially didn’t wanna be associated with Trump’s support of Israel’s 2017 decision to claim Jerusalem as the capital so I kinda dodged the question and tried to bring up something else. But the guy ignored my attempt to change the subject and ended up saying that he likes Trump. I still didn’t wanna talk politics but felt compelled to at the very least ask “ahn zjahd? inta bt-heb Trump?” (Really? You like Trump?). And he said yes and I nodded and we left it at that.
I was really pleasantly surprised at how green the desert was at this time of the year. I think I would’ve gotten bored with all the brown scenery all the time instead of this lush greenery. What a treat for the eyes
Desert village near the entrance to Kidron Valley
Mar Saba Monastery. Founded in 483AD
Kind of a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short. The guy on the left in the orange shirt is a local shepherd. He speaks no English. The guy in the middle is an employee at this Tal Al-Qamar guesthouse out here in the middle of the wilderness. He also does not speak English. The guy on the right is the owner of the guesthouse and speaks pretty good English. Earlier in the day, I encountered the shepherd out in the hills. There was no one else around. I hadn’t seen another person for at least an hour before and after running into this guy. I greeted him with a friendly “as-salamu aleikum” and a “keef halak?” and he right from the start he was saying things like, “Give me money. I have lots of kids to feed. You give me money now.” I told him no. He said more of the same. I gave him more no’s. I started walking away, he started following me. I turned around and confronted him. He told me to give him money. To get him off my back, I “agreed.” I told him I didn’t have money on me at the moment because it was already waiting for me at the guesthouse I was going to and that if he were to give me his phone number, I’d call him later to give him all the money he wants. He agrees and gives me his number. I start walking away and after a minute or two he must’ve had a change of heart because he began chasing me and shouting like a madman while riding on the back of a donkey. There was literally no one else around. He could’ve killed me out there and no one would’ve ever known. Not feeling like engaging in a fight to the death with this guy, I took off running full-speed with my 30-something pound backpack and ran for a half-hour straight. An hour or two of paranoid walking later, I eventually got to the guesthouse and explained to the non-English-speaking employee what’d happened out there. He takes the phone number from me and calls the guy up and talks to him for a bit. He says the guy is coming over (presumably to collect the free money promised to him). He then calls his boss who is also going to come from wherever he was to perform a Chris Hansen style confrontation. And this is the scene you see here. The guesthouse owner basically told him that “business is slow as it is and I don’t need you harassing and scaring off what few tourists I do have coming this way so you better knock it the fuck off.” At the end of it, after he told the shepherd to take a hike, the boss said to me that, “He is a very, very stupid man.”
Day 10 – Tal al-Qamar to Bethlehem
The awesome sight I woke up to the next morning from the Tal Al-Qamar (“hill of the moon”) guesthouse
This beautiful, tranquil sunrise proved to be the calm before the storm. Maybe fifteen minutes after this photo was taken, brutal winds picked up and – although I didn’t have a long day in front of me (officially 14km) – as I was waiting for my breakfast to be served, I was shakin’ in my britches at the prospect having to walk that long through a totally fucked-up thunderstorm. So I ate breakfast and set off walking at a very brisk pace. When I started hearing the thunder, I upgraded to a steady jog but it was of no use. The rain came about an hour into the walk and soaked me from head to toe. The lightning didn’t seem to be striking all that far away in the distance and I was very frightened. I just kept running towards Bethlehem non-stop like Forrest fuckin’ Gump
Somewhere along the outskirts of Bethlehem after that first batch of rain had tapered off. I did the 14km in two hours. When I got to this point I was so soaked and miserable that I was ready to let go of my stubborn obsession to walk the entirety of the trail by foot. I was ready to take the first shared taxi I saw to the city center and check into a nice hotel and have all my clothes washed and dried and spend the rest of the day in bed under the covers watching movies on TV. So, at some point I saw this shared taxi on the side of the road and went up to knock on the driver side window to ask how much it’d cost to get a ride to the city center. The driver looks at me like I’m a zombie and shoos me away. I’m a bit hurt but I figure it’s just because I’m dripping wet and that would not only make the other passengers uncomfortable but might also fuck up his seats. Ten minutes later, I try again. Same thing. So I say fuck it, I’ll just walk to the city center. I pass by a shop and decide to stop in to get some chocolate milk. The store owner lady sees me about to come in and runs up and locks the glass door and starts shooing me away. I don’t what’s going on. I figure that maybe she thinks I’m a Jew and since the tension between Jews and Arabs is particularly high in these parts…I dunno. I just keep walking and finally get to the center and see a fancy tourist hotel near the Church of the Nativity and I decide to pop in to get a room. I ask the girl behind the desk if there are any rooms available. She says no. I look around the lobby. I see no one. I decide to take what she says at face value. “Okay, well…can you recommend to me any other hotels in the area? How bout that one across the street?” “No,” she told me, “there’s no availability there either.” “Oh,” I said. “Is there some special holiday or is there a convention in town or…” And she proceeded to tell me that…
…I’m pretty much screwed. I reach out to a friend who has a lot of connections in the travel industry and he puts me in contact with one of the directors of the Palestinian Heritage Trail. The guy’s name is George. I talk to him on Whatsapp. He’s a very kind man and thanks me for coming out to walk the trail but essentially tells me that my walk is over and I need to find a way out of the West Bank as soon as humanly possible. Well, this really threw a wrench in my plans for spending the afternoon relaxing. I’ll spare you the details but it took me about five hours (five hours full of Israeli military checkpoint drama and crooked Palestinian taxi drivers ripping me off, not taking me to where they said they’d take me but telling me it was in fact the place I needed to go and telling me to get out and then speeding off before I had the chance to confront them) to get back to West Jerusalem. While sitting in the Jerusalem Central Bus Station I bought a ticket back home to Chicago departing the following morning from Tel Aviv. The flight was on Turkish Airlines with a layover in Istanbul. From Jerusalem, it was quite easy to get a bus back to Tel Aviv.
When I went to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv two weeks beforehand, I took a bus directly from the airport but this time, returning from Jerusalem, the bus ended up in Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and boy…what a surprise that was. There were Asians and Africans and Indians and Arabs and Jews and rasta musicians and Russian hookers and…Never would’ve imagined Tel Aviv was such a diverse city. At least in the seedy neighborhood surrounding this bus stop. I was so pleased that I ended up getting a room in some crappy motel right across the street from the bus station so I could spend my last night abroad exploring. I spoke with a few different people while walking around but the one that stood out the most was this Eritrean guy working the register in a shop down the block from my motel where I stopped in to get my chocolate milk fix for the evening. He was a young dude in his twenties. He told me he was exiled from his country. I asked why. He said because the government is “sharmoota” which is like “bitch” or “whore” in Arabic and some North African languages. He stepped outside the store with me for a minute and told me how much he misses his mother. He said he called her every day. And then he started crying because he said he didn’t know if he’d ever be able to see her again. I gave him a hug and told him I’m sorry and that he should continue to be strong. Some other customers entered the shop and he had to go tend to them. I walked around the neighborhood drinking my chocolate milk and, when I got bored an hour or two later, I went back and went to bed. In the middle of the night someone was fidgeting with the door knob and trying to get in my room for at least ten minutes. I was ready to beat the fuck out of whoever crossed that threshold but they couldn’t figure it out and eventually gave up and I went back to sleep.
Turkish Airlines in-flight entertainment. This musical artist looks impossibly like Weird Al Yankovic in the 1980s. Too funny