Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Airplanes and Hostels

The picture on their website looked promising, right on the beach. The building itself - clean and inviting. My first hostel experience.
I went to Israel alone this time, staying in Tel Aviv for a month. I'd braved the 18 hour plane trip. 6 hours to New Jersey, a layover and then 12 hours to Israel. Flying was on my bucket list. No, not that bucket list. This one is the kick the bucket list. The one that includes skydiving, bungee jumping, sticking my finger in an electrical socket... you know, that one. I just have trouble breathing germmy air in a metal tube, far away from the ground for many hours. But I did it. I joined in the applause with my plane mates when we approached the Ben Gurion airport runway and my eyes teared up. I was home again.

I found a taxi, danced the language dance, negotiated the fare and began phase two of my adventure. Bless his heart (and I say that in a good way), my taxi driver asked me if I liked Kenny G. I said yes, and he popped in a CD. I guess Americans  like Kenny G. What a relaxing ride. We entered the heart of Tel Aviv and I got excited. I looked forward to hearing the gentle lapping of the Mediterranean Sea from my hostel room window.  He stopped in front of a row of slightly run down buildings. Why was he stopping here? The beach was several blocks away.
 But my driver drug my suitcases from the trunk and plunked them inside the smokey lobby, hopped back in his cab and left. Sure enough, this was indeed were I would be spending my month. Well, my friend who lived in Tel Aviv set this place up for me so it must be okay. Deep breath. Prayer for strength.

My private room was - lets just say adequate. Bed, dresser, old TV, threadbare linens. It had no air conditioning, nor fan, but it did have a rickety door which led to a small balcony. Oh, so that was the balcony in the picture.
By 8pm my body thought it was 6am and yelled at me. "Good grief, woman, I need sleep!"  Yes, it was uncomfortably warm, but I fell asleep. Until 10pm that is. Wide awake now I tossed and turned. Under me, on the street were bars and young people hopping from one establishment to another. Tel Aviv is billed as, "The city that never sleeps". It was true. I pried open the door, found a dusty plastic chair on the balcony and watched the show. By 2am I'd had enough and crawled back into my bed, pushed ear plugs into my ears and fitfully slept until around noon. I felt drugged and disoriented.
I shared a co-ed bathroom with others on my floor and I figured by noon everyone would be out and about. But on my way back to my room after a much needed shower, I met a young man, clad only in a towel making his cheery way into the bathroom. I got back to my room, sat on the bed and cried. Then I prayed. "L~rd. I'm not sure I can take a whole month of this. Help!"

Next time on Airplanes and Hostels:
Finding help in times of need.
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