18 August 2008

Letter 3.4

Eilat, late '65

My estate is beachfront. The Queen of Sheba hotel is halfsway around the bend of the gulf, Aqaba, in Jordan and opposite me is the red mountain range which was at Ein Gedi and extends south behind Aqaba. Farther south I can see the tiny white cubes of native houses and the cliffs of Sandia Arabia, and, if I walked about 6 miles south on the Israeli side, I'd reach the coral beach and, just beyond it the border with Gaza. The water is very blue, a mirror of the sky, not red, nor has it parted yet, though if it does, I shall cross over.

My mansion is my tent with reinforced walls of pieces of plywood, which I'm told is from artillery shell boxes, and seem to be plentiful among the flotsam of war and peace washed onto the beach.

Like us.

There's actually quite a little squatters colony here -- most of the abodes are temporary, go up and down like the tides, but not all; a few fisherman's huts I are more permanent. I've found that most of the community are people like myself -- travelers, just stopping on the way, to do some work, get something behind them, or just be quiet, have time to think, watch the world go by.

I'm working as a handyman at a hospital -- part time and sometimes more -- and, as my expenses are minimal, am managing to save most of it for my ongoing trip -- probably East -- though when it will go on again I don't know, Right now I'm content to watch the stars, listen to the surf, swim in the moonlight, and even scratch the sand fleas.

As a hospital handyman shouldn't look too much like, er, a beachnik, I've made a convenient discovery: an abandoned kibbutz about ½ mile away, which still has running water, etc., and even the showers and toilet work!

I'm getting so I can half converse in Hebrew on the job, but reading and writing is something else! With no vowels, and some consonants that can be pronounced various ways (like different letters in English), I can read something and get some strange meanings or none at all. In short, if you don't already know the word you can't know how to pronounce it: Catchim 22! I'm content to speak a little and be illiterate. (Registered Jewish -- so I can't swim over to Jordan --only sink.)

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