Me and Boeing’s 747 partners: Wheels Down at Ben Gurion Airport semi-close to Tel Aviv Israel late one afternoon, October 1977, just a couple of days before Halloween, found the Talmud. I mean tarmac.
My final destination, however was not Judea; it was The Sinai Desert, to live for eighteen months-plus on a mountain-top base camp,
Dubbed ‘Caddo Mountain’, (In deference to the Texans who built it and ran it and to whom I would soon become a compadre) some shit-hole between the Gidi and Mitla Passes: Historically, the only two routes armies could pass from east to west or west to east across burning Sinai to thwack upon each other’s opponents’ heads.
I was 40 days leeward of twenty years and a little more than apprehensive. (These Two States, Egypt & Israel, were still technically, At War)
I knew some of the history, but I couldn’t be bothered that day about ‘Ancient’ History (Yom Kippur War, Six-Day War, ‘Suez War’ of ‘56, Holocaust.
Nope: I was here for ‘New History’, ‘My History’, ‘My Adventure’:
A Dangerous Desolate Gig (my first). I had never been out of CONUS (Continental United States) before.
And I was stoked. A fresh-faced, bullet-proof Texan Kid newly escaped from Louisiana and cock-strong! Fuck did I care for Mid-East Politics? I am here! Step right up! Texas has arrived! “Step aside, Son!”
Gathering my luggage (my father’s old sea-bag left over from his USMC Korean War days) and a few other bags, laden with tennis shoes, workout gear, books and magazines… way too much superfluous shit, I scampered to find my liaison, struggling with all my kit.
Finding him, a tall, skinny, thin-haired, gaunt-faced, ‘Middle-East-Hardened’ Texan Veteran (four months here previous to me, I discovered later), man who spoke with an air of, ‘Oh, you’re the ‘New Kid’… Follow me’ he said laconically.
He looked an old thirty-five to me. (Later I found out he was twenty-nine, but we were all so young there. Back then.)
Ignoring his attitude, I tried very hard to ‘get into the groove.’ It was hellishly hot, even for an October—a Texas October. I had jet lag and fatigue like a pup that had been crated too long.
Even though I was ‘stoked’, all I really wanted was a gallon of really cold orange juice, an air-conditioned hotel room, and a bed.
The ‘plane ride’ from Dallas to Tel Aviv had robbed me of some (I thought) important part of my young life and my health. I was severely dehydrated, completely spent, and pretty much left wondering if I had made some horrible mistake.
But, I sucked it up.
After a hot and hotter and even hotter bizarre drive (The Road signs looked so foreign to me, some form of hieroglyphic—never having seen Hebrew before—had not at that point read the Old Testament) from Ben Gurion Airport, through the busy streets of Tel Aviv (me resisting the urge to ask,
“Hey! are we there yet?”) we arrived at the Mediterranean Sea and the Sheraton Hotel.
My ‘liaison’ deposited me at the front desk of the ‘New’ Sheraton Hotel on HaYarkon Street Tel Aviv, telling me in parting,
“The R&R Vehicle leaves at 0800hrs; meet here in the lobby. Don’t be late. Goodbye.”
I checked in, and got me that room, such as it was. It was more a closet than a room, but it was cool and clean, and there was that bed tucked away in the corner…