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A Morning traveling


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Freesoul
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« on: April 15, 2010, 03:05:07 pm »

Up at 5:30. It's still dark out. My wife cajoles and lectures me until I arise and dress. A very truncated morning davening (prayer) begins at 6:30 and ends slightly before 7:00, when I head on down the hill to catch the bus. As I'm traversing the street, the 160 grinds its heavy engine behind me, so I run to the tachana (bus stop). It overtakes me at the tzomet (junction) and I chase after it for about 20 meters, gaining ground as it lets on the other passengers. Just as I get to the door, it closes. The driver definitely sees me standing right by his bus, but he pulls out and leaves me there. As I wait for the next one, I stick my finger out and point at the ground to every passing driver, hoping to catch a "tramp". Nobody stops, but the next 160 finally comes along around 7:20 and I get on it. The windows on the bus are clean and transparent, unlike some, which are often opaque with caked-on exhaust and grime. So I get to take in the scenery, in between reading the daily portion of Psalms and finishing the morning davening. I never get tired of the hills. They spread out beneath the heavens even as they reach up towards them, both entreating and awaiting Divine blessings or wrath. Whoever called it the West Bank must never have even seen the region. The country is vast, always with a town or a house within sight, and always with dunam after dunam of uncultivated hillside scattering the clinging human presences, making them look small and isolated. Here and there you find ancient stone huts, long-neglected terracing, hilltop forests. Approaching Jerusalem, to the right is Bethlehem, right before the entrance to the Gilo tunnels, gouged straight through two mountains in an awesome chain that must have daunted the ancient Greeks and Babylonians. In between the two tunnels to the right there is an Arab village, just visible between the concrete wind barriers. The houses are standard Israeli limestone, with dudei shemesh (solar hot water heaters) and occasional satellite dishes on the roofs. To the left is a low valley where grapes and olives are cultivated. Going through Gilo the houses start after a cemetary with an olive tree over each low tombstone. They grow thicker and thicker and suddenly yield to naked hills and valleys again, after which we approach Kinyon Malcha (Mlalcha Shopping Mall) and the Gan Technologi (Technological Park). Then we go through another tunnel and come out at downtown Jerusalem, with the bridge in the approximate shape of a giant harp. We enter the Tachana Merkazit (Central Bus Terminal). I go through metal detectors and my bags are x-rayed. Inside, I buy an ice cream cone at the food court and eat it as I run to my medical appointment.

After having my hearing checked inconclusively, outside I just miss No. 20 bus down Rechov Jafo (Jaffe Street), and wait for the next seated among a family of chadour-wearing Arab women and their very small, noisy children. Their bus comes first, and I'm left by myself. At exactly the last minute before my transfer expires, the bus shows up and I get on it, alighting too soon for my next stop, so I must walk a half kilometer to the lion-crested building where the aforementioned Miserable Panim awaits the unwitting and the unwilling. I pass through metal detectors, and my bag is manually searched. Fortunately, I only have to go next door to the Miserable Panim, to get the form for applying for a gun permit. My day's errands completed, I head back uptown to take the bus back. This time, the No. 20 comes right after I arrive at the Tachana and lets me on.

Ravenously hungry, I have time at the Tachana Merkazit to spend too much money on an early lunch of Chinese food. The girl serving me pretends not to understand my perfectly good Hebrew, and between that ploy and a pretty face she somehow suckers me into buying more than I had orignanlly intended. I'll never aagain come within hollering distance of that particular stall at the food court. She made a sale, but permanently lost a customer. The food was OK, but nowhere near as good as Wok Tov on Central Avenue in Cedarhurst of the Five Towns (they didn't pay me to plug them; it's the truth--Wok Tov rules). Definitely NOT worth 50 shekels.

Well fed and tired, as we emerge from the Gilo Tunnels I murmur Tefillat Haderech (traveler's prayer) and fall asleep in my seat, back home in Judah and Shomron. I wake up in Remat Mamre/Charsina (my town right near, and officially a part of, Kiryat Arba) and hobble home on chapped, tired feet.
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