Hundreds of people in the United States are at this moment being admitted to emergency rooms across the nation for eating potato-salad and cole-slaw gone bad for staying out in the sun during tail-gate parties of the Fourth of July.
But none of them went on a “traveling circus” road-trip beforehand, the memories of which would have kept them entertained throughout their hospital confinement.
We first started off by crashing a highly exclusive spa, hidden in the recesses of Mount Carmel.
I highly recommend crashing a spa, it’s a really fun experience, although when you walk in and are faced with the largest and thickest glass table you’ve ever seen full of TWENTY pots of REAL fully blossoming orchids, under a natural sky-light, you know you’re in for trouble. That table arrangement alone was probably worth the equivalent of a small house in Lithuania. Trust me.
We all sat there, the motley crew dressed like “Jacks of Spades” as we would say in French, sipping free water in plastic cups and enquiring about the prices of the spa retreat. I think I’m going to die laughing, recalling how ridiculous this looks now, in retrospect. I can’t believe we kept a straight face.
You know you’re in the wrong place, wearing plastic flip flops and a faded orange shirt when a woman dressed in tight white clothes that cost more than your return ticket home, tells you that the rules of spa are no cell phones (turning off our cell phones), no children under the age of 16 and no coffee or cigarettes. Crap. And I was going to smoke my pre-teen!
We took the price list, curtsied and ran back to our rented gold Hyundai, drove off and all five of us let out screams of laughter, at how ridiculously mis-matched we were to the spa. I pulled out my palm-pilot-cum-calculator and we proceeded to order ourself a week’s retreat at the spa.
One week at $408 a night (why one week? Because we’ve reached that POINT, you know…) plus a week’s worth of treatments, cost ranging from $50 to $300. Treatments include “Anti-Stress”, “Energy Glow”, “Anti-Cellulite Decleor Detox”, Wild Rose Massage, Passive Joint Movement, Stone Therapy, Seaweed Wrap, Perfect Bust. The quoted treatments spread over a few days and included a whole range of things such as Reiki, Deep Tissue Massage and a million other things you just can’t imagine. The total came to $8,204 dollars. Basically $1,000 a day. In most of the rest of the world, where PEOPLE LIVE, for $1,000 you can live comfortably for one year. Here you can pay $1,000 to get wrapped in seaweed and pinched by some pseudo-guru. When I asked “Who can afford this?” My four friends ducked their head and looked away, and the woman turned to me and said: “Everyone…Everyone with MONEY.”
Our Spa expedition was sight-seeing anyway, so we headed down further South on Mount Carmel to the Artist’s Colony known as Zikron Yakov. We played more games, mostly making fun of the Spa people, bought some rocks and crystals and ate food.
I would just like to say the only thing I bought during the circus road-trip weekend was a faceted crystal drop, that since I put it in window, has turned my room into a splintered rainbow every single morning and has increased my quality of life. The other thing I bought was a stone called fluorite, shaped so that you can run your thumb along it. I can’t explain to you why it gives me such a feeling of well-being, it’s really mysterious, all I know is that I couldn’t put the stone down after I touched it.
So we didn’t end up going to Dimona, the mysterious and intriguing colony in the Negev desert where hundreds of African American Jews settled, fleeing the situation in the United States in the 60’s. They traveled through Liberia and Ethiopia and settled as a religious community, speaking English and eating vegetarian food, south of Ber’Sheva.
But we can’t confirm any of this airplane hearsay (one of our “circus” members flew into Chicago a few years ago with an African-American woman who’d grown up in Dimona) because we changed our mind about going there (it was too late to get there at a decent time), a fourth of the way there, and turned the car around to go North, to a “Surprise #2” destination, decided by the driver.
NOTE: Although we didn’t attain our goal in the Desert, we did end up developing a song called “Dimona” for the rest of the weekend. It was really intricate and went something like this: “Dimona!!!! Dimona!!!!! Dimona!!!!” At the top of our voices. You get the point. It was really refined. Harmonies and melodies and all that stuff.
Never mind that the Castle of Nimrod (a.k.a. “Surprise #2”) and it’s on-location restaurant were closed, because on the way there we played hilarious games such as “If this person were a car they would be Volkswagen Beattle and if they were a flower, they would be a cross between a sun-flower and a cactus” or mental chess. Which had us quite perplexed, and quiet.
By the time “Surprise #2” panned out (not) it was too late for “Surprise #1” so we headed to this converted farm which turned out to be remodeled since a few years ago into (SURPRISE!) another spa, again, super-too-expensive-for-us, and again, we left. (But not after I checked out, fully clothed, their Swedish Sauna room, all made out of wood, pretty fancy, let me tell you!)
We ended up eating at this famous restaurant that’s cheap, fast and good Arab food. We mostly laughed through our dinner, making fun of something that was so hilarious, we didn’t realize we’d eaten all our food. We made it home too tired to say good night to each other and met up again (late) the next morning for part II of our CIRCUS ROAD TRIP. Part II will be quick I promise.
So Day number two of the Circus Road Trip Does (a teeny-weeny-little part of) Israel was basically water-based. We were supposed to find a white-water rafting event that was neither in Jordan or Lebanon or Gaza. We ended up, voluntarily, in an Oasis water-park called Ha-Shalosha (probably Hebrew for “Third Level of Hell”). It didn’t bode well because there was probably one tenth of the entire population of Israel in three little blue pools of the River Jordan and half of them were screaming kids. The other half were men smoking their hookas (nargilas or tobacco water-pipes) and I was so envious I wanted to kick the pipe from under their contented noses and smoke them all myself. But I observed retraint, wiggled into my black-and-white swimsuit and gave the water resort a shot.
We ended up having a freaking blast.
We organized a huge (four out of five of us and three mesmerized Israeli boys who were staring at us girls) diving competition where we did back flips, saltos, cartwheels, and all kinds of crazy stuff before diving into the water. We were the main attraction, and made complete and utter fools of ourselves. It was perfect.
Then we jumped into the Gold Hyundai and headed home because there was an event a few of us had to attend. I stayed home and listened to music, and fell happily asleep. Happy and tired from having laughed so much. Am I messing up the story with a less-than interesting ending?
Maybe I should have a thought for all those poor souls suffering from potato-salad-induced food poisoning? :)