The IDF soldier navigated down the hill as Janet got ‘properly’ dressed inside our tent to greet our visitor. I didn’t bother. I figured cut-offs and no shirt just fine. As for him, well he had slightly longish unkempt hair, as was the norm for IDF soldiers back then. Most of them were reservists anyhow.
IDF was a mega-weekend-warrior class anyhow. His beret was tucked into his shirt at the shoulder. His olive-drab uniform was dusty. In general, the IDF Army was unkempt, un-kept, un-disciplined and Fucking Ferocious.
This truth never did escape me. Some respect from me was obviously the ‘order of my day’ here…
I watched him cautiously descend onto
the my beach. The night before I had un-cautiously descended and ascended (ten times), full of false courage brought about by some imbibing and dope. But what the hell! So… I studied his unsteady progress toward me.
As he approached he switched to English, “This is restricted zone,” he said as he pointed with his rifle over his shoulder to what looked to be a military base of some minor proportions.
“Well, It was dark when we got here and I didn’t notice,” I lied.
“You must leave. Now.”
“Something wrong?” Janet said, sticking her head out of our tent.
“Janet, I got this. Go back inside,” I almost barked.
“Fine!” she said. “Gin or Whiskey for breakfast?”
“Fine!” she huffed and disappeared inside the tent.
Turning my attention back to the IDF soldier, I asked/said, “So ‘we’ (Meaning US, the U.S. of us), can pay for this ‘wonderful’ base here in Sinai, and you come climbing down from ‘Mount Fucking Sinai’ to inform me that I am not welcome here? Is this correct?”
He laughed at that and proceeded to take a seat on a beer cooler next to our now burnt out campfire. At least this one had a sense of humor.
“I am Jacob,” he said. “And who are you my American Friend?”
“Lance,” I said, cautiously extending my hand, which he took and shook earnestly. “Would you like some breakfast? We have tuna fish, whiskey, or gin. Your choice.”
Again he laughed. “Coffee?”
“Fraid not. Sorry.”
“I noticed you have some ice in your big cooler. Where did you get it?” (How did he know this?)
“Eilat,” I said.
“Do not drink the water from the melted parts then.”
“Because it is made with ammonia at the factory in Eilat. Toxic. Do not drink the water.”
“Hell! My man! I drink the water in Cairo.”
“Your funeral then.”
We laughed some more. I was warming up to this guy.
“Seriously though my friend, you cannot remain here.”
“Yeah? Well, we were planning to push south today anyhow. South to Ras Mohammed.”
“Beautiful diving and snorkeling there. Mind the sharks though.”
“The ‘Sharks’ are why we are going.”
“All you Americans… are Cowboys?” he snorted.
“Okay then. Bonne chance! I take my leave now. Be sure you take yours too. Soon. Shalom.”
“Cheers, and nice to meet you Jacob.”
“Bye,” he said and walked away.
“Well, you fucked that up,” Janet said, finally emerging from the tent.
“Now we have to leave this place.”
“Janet, I never intended to stay here more than the one night. I wanna get to Ras.”
“I like it here.”
“Pack your shit. We’re leaving now.”
She ‘packed her shit’ and I schlepped it and the rest up the cliff and loaded our little chariot. Within two hours we were back on the road again, heading south. As we were driving through the Sinai with the mountains on our right, she pulled out her Bible and
instructed invited demanded of me to ‘turn off that damn noise.’
That ‘noise’ was Bob Marley and I hesitated… for a moment, then saw some seriousness in her brown eyes and acquiesced. She opened her ‘book’ and began to read from Genesis. I must admit it was fitting, given the time and the place.
We spent some miles in this activity. I smoked some cigarettes and studied the landscape. The Sinai Desert along the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba is wondrous beautiful. As I said, the contrast moved me. Janet’s reading (which she did quite well, I may add) added to the ambiance. This girl had some talents. “In the beginning…”
But, the magic moments could not last (Janet and I had a propensity for combat). We eventually got into an argument about thirty clicks outside of Sharm el Sheik. I was slightly gin-buzzed by this point and in no mood for…
“Stop the fuckin’ car!” She shouted.
“Stop the FUCKING CAR!”
“Shit! What for?!”
“I’m getting out! That is what FOR!”
“Janet, we’re in the middle of a fucking desert in a Muslim / Bedouin country. Are you sure?”
“Yes! Goddamn it! I am sure. Stop the fucking car. I hate you!” (Not entirely sure where this sentiment came from, but it was, I could see, sincere.)
“Fine!” I stopped the car. “Don’t forget your fuckin’ Virginia Slims,” I said as she opened the door, got out and proceeded to ‘march’ down the empty road.
I would have (should have) left her there, but y’all know I could not.
More to come… Here
América – A Horse With No Name (Live in Chicago:
-America- A Horse with No Name