Eilat had been on our minds for a while. Mike’s Place had been good, and while there was a possibility to play there again, the next weeks would be too soon. The town of Eilat seemed to be where we should go and check out another potential gig. Someone had told us about a place that might be good to play at. We got the name and address and packed up our instruments, leaving the rest of our packs at Edna’s. To get there, we would need to take a bus. So, off to the station, we went. After purchasing a ticket, we made our way to the platform.
Tooth and Nail
Here we found dozens of Hasidic Jews, dressed in the Hasidic uniform of all black with their “shtreimel” fur hats and long black coats, nodding their heads with “peyot” sidelocks of hair bouncing as they mumbled quietly, reading the Torah. It was all very calm and relaxed as we waited for the bus to arrive. A few people had begun to cue up to form a line where the bus would soon pull into the station. The gentle nodding and mumbling continued.
As the bus arrived and pulled into its spot, the Hasidic men began to slowly, quietly gravitate toward where the bus door would open, regardless of the forming cue. The bus came to a stop, and when the door opened, the men fought tooth and nail to be first on the bus knocking one old lady over. It was complete mayhem as they pushed and shoved to board and take their seat, whereafter they returned to quietly reading, nodding their heads and mumbling. It was a surreal occurrence.
Nodding and Mumbling
We were in a bit of shock, having witnessed this strange scene. Boarding the bus, we presented our tickets and, passing the nodding mumblers, took one of the remaining seats in the back.
We asked someone what that scrambling pandemonium was all about. We were told that any time spent away from reading the scriptures was wasted, so the rush to take the seat in the least amount of time away from reading was imperative. To my thinking, if they waited until the rush was over and calmly boarded the bus like everyone else, they could probably continue to read as they did.
The bus made a few stops on the way to Eilat, letting people off. Whenever it was one or a group of the “nodding mumblers,” the wildly chaotic rush to exit the bus was repeated. Otherwise, the only entertainment was the scrubby desert landscape.
Meeting with Runar
When we disembarked from the bus, it was not in the downtown area. The short walk across the barren desert land was not very scenic. I guess we are more used to some plant life. We walked across a huge paved parking barren of but a few cars and found the cafe/bar we had been told about by a few people. To our surprise, two Rainbow friends were sitting at a table in the bar having a beer. Dirk and Ron looked up from the table at us and said, “What took you so long? Runar is out waiting in the car. He said he needed to talk with you and that you would be here soon.” That was surprising. But maybe it shouldn’t have been.
Runar is a mystical man that appears very connected to the universe and everything in it. He always shows up at the perfect moment to impart wisdom and guidance to those in need. We walked out to the car as he wouldn’t come into the bar, not his vibe.
“Ah yes,” he said in his thick Swiss/Italian accent, “I told them you would be here and to wait for you in that bar. I have something to tell you. Your time in Israel is coming to a close. You must go North and prepare for your trip to India. Tel Aviv is a good place to start.”
We hadn’t even discussed coming to Eilat or possibly going to India with anyone. Runar knew all, including the time and place we would be here. He was like this. We asked him, “So, what are you taking to India with you? How big will your pack be?” He held up a small bag about the size of a lady’s purse or a small cloth grocery bag.
“What more do you need?” he asked us with a smile. “Just a change of clothes is enough, no?”
We would have to rethink our enormous backpacks that held almost everything we owned. We wouldn’t need the tent and sleeping bags. Nor the small library or windchimes or… the list was long. What could we do with it all? Our minds were spinning. Box it all up and send it to Shannon’s? Yes, basics. That seemed like the answer.
What to Do? Make Music!
The sleepy little town was not very active. Our friends were the only ones in the bar. We decided that Runar was right. It was time to wrap up our visit to Israel and prepare to travel to India. But first, we had come down to Eilat to make some music. Since Dirk played pocket trumpet, and Ron played harmonica and didgeridoo, we had a little jam. Ron could hold long chords on the harmonica using his didgeridoo circular breathing technique, making some nice textures to play on top of. Dirk was a very tasteful player as well. His tone was sweet and not loud or overbearing. We mixed well. I had hoped to play more with them while we were in Israel, but our paths didn’t cross often. But we enjoyed that afternoon.
After a nice visit with our three friends, we decided to return to the bus station and return to Edna’s in Jerusalem. All our stuff was there. Plans were to be made, and we still wanted to visit Bethlehem. Christmas was just around the corner, and we wanted to see it before it was crowded for the big day.
Next: Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem