Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012.07.11 In the Beginning.....

Packing is not our forte. But all journeys begin with packing.

Every day in Israel the marching orders were the same: water/water/water, hats, name tags (the College isn’t suspect) and sound systems. Also sunscreen recommended.  And every day one of us forgot one item or another, usually water, because we all knew that the bus driver had some for sale on the bus. But at least daily outfitting was clear and simple.

I have to be honest, it's never been easy for me to travel light like Jesus recommended. The day before we left I rushed down to Harvard Square just in case Eastern Mountain Sports had something lighter than my safari vest and maybe pants with a million pockets. I hate to carry huge bags and backpack. I thought if I had enough pockets I might be able to swing my arms free. I also hated the ersatz wallet hanging around my neck or strapped around my belly cinched beneath my tee shirt in the front making me look mildly with child. Despite my resolve I obviously was not leaving vanity behind as much as I’d intended. 

But LO!  EMS had everything including underwear advertised to dry in mere hours that you could stomp on to dry if you liked. They guaranteed that you could go on a 3-week trip with three pairs. True. (But underwear doesn’t take up much room anyway.)

I found crop pants with pockets big enough to hold my water bottle and Kleenex, even my faded Nantucket red brimmed baseball hat if I squished the brim. I hate hats too.  Best of all, these pants had an expandable tie waist. 

Dick agreed to carry money and passports around his own dear neck so I was all set. Everything crammed into one small bag even two floaty dresses in case I porked up or there was the requisite Anglican cocktail hour of wine, or sherry, and cheese.  I did and there was.

Toiletries traveled in a smaller bag and a beach bag held a raincoat (England was part of this trip,) a satchel for gifts we might bring home, and sneakers I never wore tied together for safety.  

In a last minute wave of irresistible sentimentality, I grabbed the “babies” and stuffed them into my bag—stowaways, but not Palestinians. The “babies” are two miniature hedgehogs named Ganley, not prickly as real hedgehogs are, but round and plush and cuddly. They sleep with us. This kind of thing sometimes happens as you get a little into dotage, and/or when you feel about four years old emotionally because you’re not at all sure you are really old enough yourself to be making such a big trip. 

Honestly we looked like Tommie and Tillie Tourist posing as sophisticates at 5:30a.m. waiting for our taxi. Dick may not (will not) agree with all this humor but when I confessed that the “babies” were on board he grinned.

Getting out of the US was more stressful than we’d expected not having traveled internationally for many years.  We got through the patting down and the Xrays, me worrying that I looked fat,  but there was some question about the size of the extra large mousse in my cosmetic case. It was the only vanity item I had, save for one lipstick and an ancient eyebrow pencil my daughters die laughing over.
The inspector questioned me and said he’d have to confiscate the mousse. “Ok,” I said sweetly.  He smiled and put it back in my case.  “We learn to read faces,” he said.  Goofy ones!

We grabbed stuff and rushed off—leaving the contents of two other trays behind. One contained my purse and the other the laptop. Rushing back to grab our items, we spotted the man who’d queried the mousse. He was laughing out loud, probably reassured he’d read our innocence correctly.

You have no idea how much unnecessary food I piled in once we got safely to the lounge with all our stuff in tow.

Our voyage was bon, and we matured considerably en route.  When we arrived, bedraggled for our London overnight,  a lovely man named Fernando invited us, after official closing time, into the restaurant for a delicious plate of pasta, comfort food.  He told us some of his faith story—raised in Portugal as a devout Roman Catholic but not really believing much of it—and asked us to pray for him in the Holy Land. 

We did.