Funny · Israel · Memorable words · Travel

Dust on the altar, wind in my heels

I went on a roadtrip this weekend.

We had two car-fulls and went to Tzfat, a Jewish Holy city (“because lots of rabbis lived here”, as a young Orthodox Jewish girl told me when I asked her why it was so holy) and then down to two of the Christian Holy Places near the Sea of Galilee.

Funny wall art in Tsfat:


Orthodox female silhouette for ladies’ bathroom:


The whole trip was a roadtrip down memory lane, everyone else’s and mine…but then everyday life for me is a tango for three, straddling the fine line between my past (and its emerging memories, sometimes magical, sometimes haunting), the present (alternatively muddled and crystalline), and the neverendingly hazy future, which should be a bright light at the end of some tunnel I’ve never walked down.

Maybe instead of looking for the light I should be looking for the tunnel.

I didn’t really take too many photos…Sometimes I’m so busy experiencing something within me that pulling out a hunk of metal with dials interferes with my personal process of locking it into my memory.

“Photos make the brain lazy” said this Korean man I’ve never met in Alice Springs.

Tzfat was interesting. I didn’t want to walk into a Synagogue, but rather walk through winding cramped streets and talk to all the Francophone Jews around, to find out why they pile little stones on the graves in cemeteries (“people put a stone each time they come and visit” to keep the memory of the dead alive, I suppose, you only really die when you’re forgotten…) and see things I wouldn’t forget like a little girl on the steps of her house in the shade. And we talked about childhood and experience, as the streets wound around and we drank “the best coffee in the world” that Mara and Mark made the one thing I “HAD” to do in the city.

The approach to Tzfat was a short trip back home for a few companeros, in a strange shared memory. The entrance to the town had my two Australian friends excited about returning to Toowoomba and when we got out of the car we found out that the road leading to our turn-off was an exact replica of the surroundings of Kelowna, Canada.

Galilee in July. Plug in four blowdryers, and place them around your head, in each of the cardinal directions, turned on medium heat: not full blast so that it would be completely obvious but hot enough that it completely overtakes you more fully because more progressively. If it was full blast, you wouldn’t get out of the car. But because it’s not THAT bad, you get out and then, by the time you’ve been hit, it’s too late to get back in, and your tongue hangs out listlessly from your half-open mouth like the puppy you took pity on last week, that was tied in the sun by a cruel owner.

Galilee from our rest area:

dusk gallilee

And I’m going again in a week with mom. :)

Galilee in July. Where was I? I am perpetually lost in my own mental white-noise.

We went to the banks of the Galilee to eat our delicious curry. We do road-trips in style…yessir. On a covered jetee, next to the Greek Orthodox church. The one with the bubble-gum pink rounded domes surmounted by tall sharp white crosses.

The inside of the domes are gilded and ornate, Saints and people, floating in gold and rich colors, flowing robes, I suppose but I couldn’t really look. I went straight for the altar, behind the velvet curtains was a storage room full of junk, with an old dusty boombox, playing some muffled Gregorian Orthodox chant (I’m totally guessing).

Detail of the inside of the Greek Orthodox church:


In between each of the velvet-curtained openings was an altar with two semi-circle cement steps, and on the altar were people’s belongings.

Hundreds of yellowed, aged photos, stickers, polaroids and ancient portraits, black and white, color, you name it, all sizes, all formats, all of people who somewhere had a life, a name, a family around them.

Below the photos which were crammed at the base of a mirror frame, were old sunglasses, Ray-Ban throwbacks to the eighties with gold frames and large lenses, cheap plastic necklaces, Russian-imitation rolex wrist-watches, all hanging on cords fixed at either end of the narrow wooden altar.

Everyone else’s memories, everyone else’s trinkets, murmuring histories of people who didn’t want to be forgotten, maybe these were the Greek Orthodox’s little stones on invisible graves, and maybe that’s why I couldn’t take pictures, maybe that’s why I walked out.

I walked out and went to pet the braying grey donkey, tied outside the chuch in the glaring sun, surrounded by dried poop and waist-high golden weeds. And it was my own slice of memory I was revisiting. My own childhood where I walked out on my summer camp in France to go by the river and pet the grey braying donkey, with his large soft ears, and his lack of mean games.

I know it sounds weird, and I know it sounds creepy. But it was what I needed, I needed something else, some airing of the wind in my heels, although I didn’t run fast enough and it was nearly far enough. But this is a small country, and I’ll take what I can get.

Maybe, just maybe, I can get to Andalusia soon.

Just maybe I can be my own gypsy again, since I feel like the more I find myself the less I can remember what she used to be like.

I Remember…that’s the motto of Quebec: “Je me souviens”.

The banks of the sea of Galilee (also one one of the only pictures I’ve ever taken with flash that I am happy about):

plastic wheat

Doesn’t teh wheat look like it’s made of plastic??


4 thoughts on “Dust on the altar, wind in my heels

  1. The motto of Quebec is actually “Je me souviens” but close enough right?
    This comes from my obsessive childhood and trying to memorize all of the licence plate mottos from the various provinces…

  2. Thanks Ry!! I was going to say “I think the motto of Quebec is…” but then I thought…”I always say stuff like ‘I think’ and ‘I don’t know’ and ‘maybe’ and I’m too lazy to go on Google” but I had a feeling I was off. Besides, I’m a spectator Canadian, and I didn’t have the opps to memorize license plates, otherwise…you know me….I would have. :-)

  3. Aidita! I want you to come…I don’t want to go without you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Imagine the three of us in Andalusia!!

    wow. Where do I begin?

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