JERUSALEM POST BLOG 26 – Cleavage diplomacy
A day earlier I go to Jerusalem, get us a yellow-plate car. No use for the green-and-white. Makes me chuckle sometimes to see a green-plate Mercedes SUV in Ramallah. Where the hell you gonna drive that thing? All the way to Beitunia and back, ey? Anywayz, I’m at Rentals-R-Us, looking at a minivan. “Can I take it into the Territories? Like, say, Bethlehem?” I inquire. “Why, sure,” says the guy. “No problem at all.” A minute later we’re going over the forms, and he turns pensive of a sudden.
“Oh, by the way, the insurance only covers you to where the army goes.”
Damascus, here we come, I think, but don’t press the point. I see IDF in Ramallah every night, but I doubt I can get a free tow if, God forbid, I fold the damn thing around a tree there. My palms turn sweaty as I sneak past Qalandia checkpoint. “Please hold your distance,” I want to shout to my fellow-motorists. What’s the international sign for ‘not insured’? I’m picking up my fare the next morning; a Westbanker with a nine-to-five permit to visit Israel, a cute Gazan –I fail to grasp her exact diplomatic status to this day, an Italian, one half-Gazan, and a German of Indonesian descent. A Beneton commercial on wheels.
“It’s a small world after all,” we sing, sailing past the Hizma checkpoint into Jerusalem. The passage is used by Palestinians, as well as Israelis and tourists, so it helps to have scantily-clad women of fair complexion bejuxt the windows. “Vanilla faces on standbye,” I go. Oh, and a good car is definitely a plus too. Avoid old or white Benzies, or anything seen as typically Palestinian. I’m playing RnB hits from the mid-nineties –way too loud- and Ahmad wields his brand new handycam. Good spirits. The rest of the crew lies dormant. Some people consider most hours in the am as ungodly.
First stop Caesarea. Remnants of an empire. Roman ruins have a lot in common with McDonalds outlets. Not a whole lot of variation. Often the only part you find standing is the amphitheater. Says a lot about priorities back in the days. I wonder what will be left of our civilization once it’s hit the proverbial bucket. For some reason I’m thinking Zanussi washing machines. Next up; Haifa. We do the Baha’i gardens; a monument dedicated to world peace and what not. Yet another Disney moment. The ladies are asked to cover up a little, lest the gods of love be offended.
We spend the night in Haifa, drinking, joking, and falling collectively and madly in love with this curly brunette behind the bar. Her hair does what fractals do, repeating the same wavy pattern into infinity. We talk about politics, peace, and the sad lack thereof. Eyelash diplomacy, and after parting with a wad of cash it’s off to the hostel. Without the barmaid, mind you. Sound sleep ensues, marinated by night.
Off to Acre then. Just before we drive into town a police cruiser intercepts us. “You know what you just did?” barks the officer.
“Um, no.” We haven’t a clue.
“You crossed a white line.”
“In Israel you don’t do.”
“Sorry, we didn’t see that. We were looking for the beach.”
“The beach is over there, but you don’t cross the white line.” “Oh.”
“I could take your car, you know that? Or give you a fine of a hundred Shekels.” We do our best to smile sheepishly.
“That’s like two hundred dollars,” he adds.
We do our best to stop smiling. We exit the vehicle and the officer proceeds to show us exactly one of these white lines. “Here, you don’t cross.”
It’s a warm day. Sina and her Gazan copilot show enough cleavage to last a nuclear winter. The officer does his best not to smile too sheepishly. “Okay, don’t do again, eh,” he concludes and we’re off. Saved by the boob. Again. The cosmological constant that Einstein searched for in vein, and then called his biggest mistake. Astrophysicists have recently taken it out of the dustbin again. Yet, afresh, they’re pointing their telescopes the wrong way, away from earth.
But I’m trailing off here. We were traveling to Acre. It’s the end of Ramadan and the streets tremble with horse rides, sugar candy, orange juice, and falafel. It’s all good. Then, the beach and ice cream. The same night we head into the Golan heights, rent a ‘Zimmer’ from a Druze family, and engage in a little sight seeing the next day. Nimrod Castle, Kuneitra, and the ‘shouting’ border. Druze families, cut off from one another after the ’67 war stood here until recently, megaphone in hand, to get news from across the no man’s land.
In Banyas we visit the only temple in the world dedicated to the God Pan. I fondly recall Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume, take a deep whiff of air, but alas, fail to detect any olfactory clue as to the great goat god’s presence. After busting a taillight on Pan’s parking lot we’re off again. We stop in Nazareth for coffee; then, fire up the Hyundai for the last stretch to Ramallah.
1 | Daniel – Canada, Wednesday Mar 26, 2008 Busted tail light eh? I guess that in-israel-only insurance paid off.