We had awakened after our evening with the Magician’s son, said our goodbyes, and made our way to Tel Aviv to visit and stay with our friend, Daniel Ben Tal. Daniel, a journalist, was once featured in a LIFE magazine article about the “7-day war.” Having met him through Rainbow, he was a pivotal contributor to the family. That week between Christmas and New Year’s was a blur of activities.
Peter and Karen were at Daniel’s, where they were preparing to go back to England to get married. We made a day trip north to Omadamah, the tipi village in the mountains, with them. I think it was to return some tipi poles. Offa, Daniel, and some others had started the tipi village, but Offa was not too keen on having it overrun with too many people. Before returning to Daniel’s, Peter and I buried a pipe made from a bone of some kind in the rocky land. He said this pipe had spiritual meaning and needed to stay in Israel.
Big Blue Whale
Returning to Tel Aviv, Peter parked their “Big Blue Whale” of a van nearby Daniel’s flat, leaving the keys with us. They had offered us the possibility of staying in the van while they returned to England to get married. Thanking them, we accepted their offer. We would leave the keys with Daniel when we left.
We rejoined the Rainbow Circus, passing through Haifa for an afternoon. They had come to perform and donate the proceeds to Greenpeace’s “Rainbow Warrior II.” This vessel was a three-masted schooner that replaced the original “Rainbow Warrior” that the French intelligence service (DGSE) bombed in 1985 in the Port of Auckland, New Zealand, which sank the ship. Being open to the public, Donna went aboard to take photos of us performing on the dock below. As I juggled three clubs of fire, a woman from the ship asked Donna, “Where did these people come from?”
“They are part of a group called Rainbow,” Donna replied.
“I didn’t know that people like this still existed,” the woman said, surprised!
After the performance, we were told that many Rainbow performers would go to a New Year’s party and jam at an art and technology village on a hill outside of Haifa, where many buildings were round-shaped. Miss Guitara was becoming unglued and falling apart at the seams. “They have the resources to fix her,” I was told. So, we followed along.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve was a 100+ party with Rainbow outside of Haifa at “Tav,” an alternative community of circular homes. It was dark when we arrived, but we could see the large round buildings and, beyond, the lights of Haifa. I was introduced to an artist that worked with wood, and before long, Miss Guitara was glued and clamped with large wood vices. Donna and I mingled with the locals and Rainbow friends, snacking and drinking chai.
We met several other musicians, many playing drums and percussion, who began to get the music of the party started. A bass player put a nice rich bottom to the groove. I wasn’t sure what to do because my guitar was a jumble of awkward clamps jutting out in all directions. Nonetheless, I plugged up my guitar, Zoom effects, and my amp to the P. A. System. Straddling the clamps, I found a position from which I could play, and we made rhythmic, spacey music into the new year. The music was outstanding as the singers added vocals to the jam.
As midnight approached, our friends from the Rainbow Circus, Kera from Spain, François of France, and Cos from the Netherlands began a fire show! They twirled fire sticks and blew huge balls of fire for some of the “fireworks” we had ever seen for a New Year’s Eve!
New Year’s Day was also fun. I learned a new rope trick after doing some rope magic. We also learned how to make a bubble wand for giant bubbles from string and a tree branch. Donna learned how to make giant bubbles!
That evening we went back to Tel Aviv to begin to prepare for India the next morning. We had gotten on a waiting list for January 6 and were good to go on the 13th. Confirmation was needed of one or the other to have a firm date to work off of. We both do better with deadlines. First, we reconnected with Ruvean (Ruben), and a hot shower. Staying in Pete and Karen’s van was nice with its big, comfy bed, warm kitchen and bucket for the morning, but we needed a warm shower.
Our morning walk through the Bauhaus-influenced architecture to the garment district was only eight blocks. Ruben was staying at a friend’s apartment while the friend was pulling his yearly month-long military duty. After the shower, we all set out for the same shopping mall, Cannons, where we find “ISSTA,” known as Israel Student Travel Agency. We wonder why there are two “S’s”? The representative tells us that we are clear to fly out on the 6th! Great! Now we have to get to work to meet this deadline!
What a project, and here we are short on cash! We need to ship 20 kilos at 120 sheckles which equals about $40. We map out a schedule for a Friday departure and get to work. The first problem is money, but that’s easy! Tuesday is a good day for busking in Tel Aviv.
Busking for Sheckles
Monday, we packed all we could and had all our boxes in a line for shipping on Thursday. Tuesday, we began busking around 9:30 that morning, sold a few tapes, put some money back, and took a bus to Jerusalem, which took an hour. We ate falafels, cheap food, but Donna’s stomach was not so happy; suffering from a “falafel tummy.” We took our favorite spot on Ben Yehuda Street across from the ATM and played until 1:00 pm. Then we played the “Find a place to stay for the night” game.
Earlier, while walking from the bus station, we took a shortcut through the big vegetable market and met another American. A very New York Jew named Moshe. He looked like Jerry Garcia. He even had a copy of a letter that he let us read, to Jerry, by Rabbi Schlomo congratulating him on his marriage last year. Anyway, Moshe came to see us play on Ben Yehuda that evening and stayed quite a while. It’s nice when people stay and listen anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 or 4 hours!
Where to Sleep?
At the end of the evening, after many phone calls, we still have no place to sleep. One last possibility was a friend without a phone, but a friend of hers said to go. We had the address but had no idea where it was in the city. Moshe knows the city and the street, so he escorts us most of the way, telling us the last bit. We found the household still awake and had hot tea, cookies, and a nice soft bed. Thanks to Smadar, we had our last night’s lodging in Jerusalem. Interestingly, she was also the first to suggest we come to Israel, which is fitting.
A nice visit in the morning, more tea, and back to Ben Yehuda Street to catch the lunch crowd. During a short break, we visited Ramón, our musician friend making meditative music, to say goodbye before leaving Israel. Back to Ben Yehuda Street, we played until 10:00 pm, said goodbye to friends and fans, and hopped on a bus back to Tel Aviv and the Big Blue Van.
Oops, Back to the Street
We woke up early in the morning with a fistful of sheckles, believing we had it all under control. A quick trip to the post office to ship our boxes hands us one big surprise. Not only were we quoted the wrong rates, but we had more weight (32 Kg) to ship than we originally thought (20 Kg). Our big push to make money had a net of over $100. We had 330 NiS (shackles), and shipping took 285 NiS.
Donna went to work shopping, repairing the backpack strap, etc., that needed to be done before going. I went back to the street to busk. I busked in the underground crosswalk, on the walking and yuppie streets. All I could make was 21 NiS (sheckles). Donna ran through the balance of sheckles that she had, recounting a nice lady that paid the last ½ sheckle on a bottle of water for us. I had run into our friend, Daniel, who offered showers, dinner, and a visit at 7:00 pm. He also offered to drive us to the airport in the morning, not to worry!
Dinner at Daniel’s
After showers, Daniel served up a lovely dinner. He was full of stories, having just served his annual one-month service in the military. He had been serving at a guard post near some radical settlements. Mostly he had made giant pots of good soup to feed people during the cold nights. Yes, Israel can be very cold, damp, and near freezing.
Some other friends, Shy and François, stop by to say goodbye and invite Daniel out for the evening. Daniel reneged on the offer for the ride to the airport the following morning. We had 28 shackles, and the bus to the airport would be 21 sheckles, so Donna dropped the seven remaining sheckles in Daniel’s “magic hat” jar. We had exactly the amount of money needed in Israel.
Back at the Blue Van, we wrote notes and left holiday/wedding gifts for Pete, Karen, and Jade-Baby. We cleaned up and left a box of jewelry supplies in the side closet to collect next summer in Europe. Ruben stopped by for a quick last goodbye. We slept fitfully, excited for the new journey, and woke early to catch the bus.
To the Plane
We were the only passengers on the bus. The bus driver was most personable, chatting with us the entire 45-minute ride to the airport. People seem to enjoy talking with us, probably due to our unusual lifestyle and many stories.
At the airport, luckily, we somehow got into the wrong line, and within 30 minutes, had managed to arrive at the customs officials and, soon after, the gate. The other line of people took up to 2 hours to arrive at the same place arriving at the gate 30 minutes before take off.
Just before boarding, our friend Gill appears. He is also on his way to India. He had just returned from Ganga, South Africa, where he had been studying drum. While there, he met Stevie Wonder and “burned one” with him. He said “Stevie” was really cool and very spiritual.
We board the Sinai Air aircraft and take our seats. The journey was scheduled for a 14-hour layover in Cairo, Egypt, before continuing to Bombay (now known as Mumbai). Or so we thought.
Next: Proper Conduct, Bombay