Today we plan on scuba diving with dolphins then driving up to Jerusalem. I’ve never been scuba diving and I vaguely remember snorkeling once in Puerto Vallarta. I have trouble clearing my ears of pressure when I am on airplanes so I am a little concerned about the diving. BUT! I so want to be with the dolphins again. If you read my book you know I was with them in Nuevo Vallarta in their pool and with their trainers. I loved that. This time, though, they are wild dolphins who voluntarily visit with people. I am so excited I could pee my pants.
First, we go to the breakfast buffet provided by the hotel. I walked in, took a look at the food and checked my watch. Is it lunchtime? There were tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, humus, tahini, baba ganoush, yogurt, salads, a kind of egg and tomato dish, and other lunch type food; also, the ever present Tang and Nescafe. This is breakfast? Hmmm, just go with it Linda. It was my introduction to mid east food and I loved it.
Next, we were on our way to Dolphin Reef. Alexei had been diving before, but, planned to just hang around me to make sure I am totally comfortable. He is so wonderful in this way with me. That first night in Cairo, he would hold my hand to help me safely weave through the traffic. He gives me a hand when I have to climb up or down something; carries my luggage up stairs when there is no elevator, and, he walks my pace letting me take my time to do whatever I want to do. I really lucked out to have him as a traveling partner.
Upon arrival at Dolphin Reef, I get the wet suit on then go to get my equipment.
We are given a little class on using masks, fins, and breathing through the mouthpiece thingy. I am taught how to use hand signals to communicate. As this is an introductory dive, I will be having my own dive instructor, Isaac, who will be holding my hand, literally, the whole time. He will do whatever adjustments to the equipment that needs to be done. I am supposed to just enjoy the experience; sounds good to me.
O wow, the dolphins are right here at the shore line, jumping in the air and diving. There are about six of them waiting to play with us. Yay! Let’s get going!
Isaac holds my hand as we enter the water, I brace for the initial coldness but the temperature feels great to me. Once in the water I steady myself by holding onto Isaac’s shoulder while he puts the fins on my feet. The dolphins are excitedly waiting and so am I.
“Okay, Linda, put on your mask and put the mouthpiece in, you remember how?” Isaac coaches.
“Now, put your face in the water and just breathe normally.”
I put my face in and begin to take a breath.
My head jerks out of the water; I spit out the mouthpiece and rip off my mask. HEY, WAIT A MINUTE; no way Jose, no me gusta, me no likey!! This is like being on a ventilator. Uh oh.
“It’s okay, Linda, just take your time. Breathe like you always do, it will be fine.” He helps me put on my equipment again.
I put my head in, take a breath, and jerk out of the water again. I notice the dolphins have moved away from me as if they know I am afraid and need space to deal with it. C’mon, Linda, you can do this. You’ve been waiting to be with these dolphins. Take a breath, breathe in Love, and calm down, Linda.
“Try again, Linda, you can do this.” Isaac soothes me.
I put my face in again.
Good. Nice normal breathing; it’s all good, Linda, breathe. Hey, I am breathing and we have been floating out to deeper water. Okay, I am cool. At the very least I can snorkel, right? Yeah, that’s right.
Hey wait! We are under the water now. Okay, stay chill, Linda. I’m good, I’m good; this breathing is working. Yay!
Uh oh, my ear is feeling pressure. I pause our descent and use the maneuver of squeezing my nose and blowing out my ears. This has never worked for me on airplanes but I am hoping it does now.
Nope, it doesn’t. Isaac takes me back up until my ear is okay. Then we start down again. I feel the pressure. Work through it, Linda, push through it. Now, the pain includes my jaw. I need to go back up. Isaac takes me up.
This isn’t gonna work. I feel tears wanting to come; I am so frustrated and sad. Love, I can’t seem to do this. It hurts too much and I don’t want to damage my eardrum, but, If my ear won’t clear I can’t go down. I really want to go down. I don’t know how to fix this!
UNCLE! I surrender! I leave it to you Love, what would you like to experience with me; what do you think is best?
Just then my attention is captured by a large school of little bright orange fish that swim in front and below me. Ahhh, so beautiful. They seem to hover as if calling me to come and see their beauty even closer. Then they are gone. I realize my ear doesn’t hurt anymore and I am deeper in the water.
We swim around and my tank keeps shifting to one side of my back so that I keep rolling over. Isaac intermittently grabs both of my hands to straighten me up, until I figure out how to jerk my shoulder to put my tank into a midline position. Pretty soon, I let go of his second hand and stretch my right arm out to the side of my body; then I loosen my grip on his other hand until just our finger tips are touching. I feel like Lois Lane on her first fly with Superman. Oh yeah this is sooo cool!
Soon, I know Isaac is taking me deeper because there is a sudden ice pick spike in my right ear extending deeply into my jaw.
Off to my right a dolphin appears swimming within arm’s reach. Oh so beautiful! My eyes follow as it slowly swims in front of me and down. The next thing I know my hand is in the sand at the bottom and my ear doesn’t hurt.
Isaac scoops up some sand and lets it drift through his fingers until I see little crab like critters on his hand. He holds them out to me and I let them crawl onto my hand. All of me is filled with joy. We start swimming along the bottom and I see Alexei with his dive companion. I see dolphins staying nearby as if encouraging me to explore. I am amazed at the life and beauty under the water. I have watched Jacques Cousteau. It’s not the same as being here in person. So beautiful, so wonderful! I am ecstatic.
All too soon, it is time to surface. At top, Isaac starts to take my fins off for me, but, I beat him to it. We got back to shore and the rocks were killing my tootsies, but worse, I had no balance. Isaac had to keep helping me stand up. It was like I was waterlogged.
“Oh, Isaac, thank you so much, that was wonderful. You did a great job of helping me. Thank you, thank you.”
Back in the dressing room, I began sobbing. So overwhelmed with feelings; fear conquered, pain allayed, joy in abundance, and so much gratitude to Love for all of it. I really do feel cared for.
I met Alexei and we went to the gift shop. This was my first inkling about how the boy loves to shop!
Then it was time for our drive up the center of Israel to Jerusalem. I have strangely been falling in love with deserts since my first trip to Teotihaucan, Mexico and now I am surrounded by the Negev desert. I find it beautiful.
We stopped at Mitzpe Ramon, a town in the middle of nowhere, literally. Originally, it was a military outpost and now it has become the way stop for travelers between Eilat and Beer Sheva. It has been developed into a kind of unique eco-tourist town with the Ramon Crater as its main tourist site. This natural occurring crater is claimed to be the largest in the world. The town felt rather tranquil and I read that it has become a haven for new age healers, desert enthusiasts and performance artists. I don’t know for sure about all of that; what I do know is that Cafeneto has the best hamburgers I have ever eaten. Oh yum! Yeah, food is something I always notice, ha ha.
We continued our drive through the desert up to Beer Sheva and then to Jerusalem via Hebron. Hebron is the second holiest city in Judaism after Jerusalem; and the Muslims consider it one of the four holy cities of Islam due to its association with Abraham. I didn’t know all of this at the time. Alexei is the one who knows all the historical and current affairs. I tend to avoid too much information because I like to experience things and people the way they are now; without preconceived ideas.
At any rate, today, we only wanted to stop there to buy something made from the beautiful blue Hebron glass. However, although we could see the city of Hebron from the road, we couldn’t find a way in. Somehow we missed the turn off that I, as navigator, was looking for. We drove around the outskirts of the city and saw there were roads that lead into it, but they all had obvious red “keep out” signs. We couldn’t read them but we could tell it wasn’t ok to go in. Nevertheless, we were determined to go in. So, we kept driving around and around, in here, out there, but never getting where we wanted to go. One thing I love about Alexei is, like me, he doesn’t get upset about being lost – it’s just part of the adventure. After this, whenever we were lost or confused about anything I called it a “Hebronesque” experience.
Finally we found a street without a warning sign and we began to drive into Hebron. As we approached the entrance to Hebron, I suddenly felt very uncomfortable. I didn’t say anything as we passed places that looked like stone-working warehouses and some men that stared at us. I felt feelings of suspicion, wariness, and “What are you doing here?” coming at me. We started driving up narrow streets trying to find shops for the glass, but there was nothing.
As we passed more people the fear was building inside of me. We should not be here, we are not welcome here. I knew a button was being pushed in me and I had to deal with it, but, it wasn’t the time or place to explore myself, I had to get out of there.
“Alexei I need to leave this city, now. We are not welcome here. There is a lot of fear.”
“Are you sure it’s not just your fear?”
“It is partly mine, but, it’s theirs too.”
“They have reason to be suspicious and wary, Linda.”
“I know and I am sorry for that, but, I have to go, now.”
And lovely Alexei said okay and began to find our way out.
Meanwhile, I began to deal with this fear. Just as I released my matching fear energy and could feel love again, I turned to look out the window and there were two children smiling at me from the sidewalk. Sigh, thank you, Love
Now that my button wasn’t being pushed I could see more clearly and yes, indeed, there was so much suspicion, wariness, and wondering what we two were doing in their city. There were guarded, furtive looks and outright staring from people on the street as we passed by. At one point, the traffic was blocked and we had to sit there for a few minutes. This was not a good thing; I had to keep filling myself with love and use it to answer the energy I felt around me. Finally, we were back at our original entrance. As we passed out of Hebron, my whole body relaxed. This was the only time in our whole journey that I felt uncomfortable.
When we arrived in Jerusalem we made our way up to the Mount of Olives Hotel which overlooks Old Jerusalem:
It is also next door to the Chapel of the Ascension which is a Christian and Muslin holy site as it is believed to be the place where Christ ascended into heaven. The small round church/mosque contains a stone which is said to be imprinted with the very footprints of Jesus.
Pretty heady stuff, huh?
I couldn’t see any of this right then, because it was dark and windy and COLD! However, despite that, we just had to take a walk down the steep hill and go into the Old Town. As we passed a certain place near the bottom of the hill, I felt a pull toward a closed door. It was the entrance to the Garden of Gethsemane and I knew I had to come back here. We continued to the Lions Gate and entered Old Jerusalem. It was such an awesome feeling to be walking into Jerusalem. I was humbled by being in such an historic place. I wanted the silence we met. I embraced the atmosphere, the energy of being there. This city has been so important in history and still today. There was so much to grasp, I just wanted to soak it all in.
As we walked up mostly empty streets, in my mind I suddenly heard a terrified scream coming down a side street. I was startled. I knew this was not a scream from present time. Part of me wanted to walk down that dark street; my whole body yearned to stop and say “Hello” to whomever had uttered that cry; but, Alexei was with me and I didn’t want to say anything. We kept walking, but finally, I couldn’t contain myself and I said, “I heard a scream coming down that street back there.”
“I didn’t hear anything.” Alexei replied.
“I know, it was just in my head.”
“Um, you know they prescribe medication for that kind of thing, Linda.” He laughed and I did too. The tension was gone. I sent a communication of love down that street and asked Love to help whomever it came from.
Hmm, is this a sign of things to come? Well, I do tend to hear spirits. But, will it be happening here, on this trip, too? Sounds like maybe so. People are in transition all over the world, Linda, not just the ICU. Okay, I’m cool with it. It’s what I do, isn’t it? I trust Love to bring me into contact with whoever is “mine”.
I have to explain that “mine” business. After I started hearing my patient’s spirits I found myself feeling like I needed to talk with every patient in my ICU. I soon became overwhelmed by the sense of responsibility and the sheer number of people. I meditated upon it and finally heard that I would be directed to those people that were mine to help. Thereafter, I allowed myself to be guided to contact those who were “mine” and let Love care for the rest.
We got back to our hotel just as it started raining, then hailing. Hailing in Jerusalem in March. Good thing I have my Amsterdam clothing!!