This day we were on our way to Eilat, Israel by taking a bus from Cairo and traveling over the Sinai Peninsula to Taba, Egypt which is the southern border crossing between Egypt and Israel. Originally, we had planned on taking a taxi, but with a nod to the current events, Alexei thought a bus would be safer.
We began the journey with a taxi ride from the hotel to the bus terminal. Alexei sat in front with the driver and they were conversing about politics. I sensed Alexei really didn’t want to. He was getting a little irritated with comments the man was saying and would reply with very logical, realistic comments. I felt the driver was trying to communicate something but it kept coming out wrong. All during the ride, the driver did not address me because I was a woman, I am pretty sure. At the end of the ride, after he gave us the baggage and we gave him his fee, I got his attention.
“I am hearing what you are saying…‘There must be no more killing.’”
He stared into my eyes, smiled and nodded. Then he gave me a blessing.
Ah Love, thank you.
The bus was full with almost all men and maybe five women including myself. The one warning Alexei had given me was about the rest stop. The last time he had taken this route was with two other women and one of them had gotten stuck in the bathroom stall. Apparently, the door to the stall was a regular “inside house door” type and the handle decided to somehow disconnect and just spin when she tried to get out. Alexei had to go in to the ladies restroom to fix the door and rescue her.
“I don’t know if we will be going to the same place, but, just be aware.” He grinned.
It was going to be a long drive, maybe about 5 – 6 hours. Then time must be added on for check points and how much inspecting they might want to do. It was all good to me. I just planned on an all day field trip.
Fortunately for me, Alexei is a non-stop talker who is both informative and entertaining. He also respects my requests for quiet when I ask for them.
Alexei’s last name is Romanov. I asked him to tell me about this famous family and so, in between pointing out various sights during our ride, he gave me a detailed history about the Czars of Russia. I was amazed at his level of information and was soothed by his pleasant voice. I looked out the bus window while listening to the history of Russia, and watched the desert passing by, imagining trains of camels passing this way or perhaps Bedouin tribes moving along this pass in years gone by, and time just slipped past my consciousness.
At one point we drove under the Suez Canal and that was just a cool thing to do. Eventually, we came to a rest stop. It was housed in a building that was part of small complex of a three to four other small buildings. I went to the restroom and yikes, there are those doors that Alexei warned me about. But, no worries because the place was so fantastically filthy there was no way I was staying. About face, Linda. I found out later, there was a problem with their pipes and that’s all I am saying about this.
I wandered around outside a little and could see how the facing materials on some of the buildings had been put over older facing and wondered how many years this spot had served as some kind of meeting place or rest area. My imagination kept going wild and romanticizing everything I saw.
Suddenly, I could see dust flying as a vehicle came roaring down the road toward me. As it got closer I saw there was a small group of people in it and I could clearly make out a rifle. Hmmm, wonder what’s coming? Should I go back to the building? Nah, I’m cool. Wait and see what this is.
It was a group of boys riding up, hollering, holding up their rifle, and a bird they had shot. They stopped right in front of me. They couldn’t speak English, but as they held that bird out in front of my face, I gave them a thumbs up. Then I held up my camera and gestured to take their picture. One boy held out his hand for baksheesh and I gave him some. I took their picture and showed it to them. They started laughing and handed the money back to me. Then they took off, hollering again as they rode away.
As I turned and walked back to the rest stop, I could see some of the men smiling at the whole thing. I had a feeling of inclusion and that some had been there watching to make sure all went well for me. It was all very subjective, but, comforting too. Later, on the bus, one of the men offered me some gum which I gratefully accepted.
We had to disembark the bus again at a check point with soldiers. I found them to be very nice and helpful to me; they didn’t even bother to check my bags. Eventually, we got to Taba at which point we left the bus and although one can walk to the border crossing, we took a little van there. It was sooo exciting for some reason to be here about to cross into Israel. We began to check into the first point and Alexei could not find his passport.
As I looked into his frantic face, I knew to keep quiet and let him work it out. He is a very experienced traveler and I knew this had never happened to him before. The guards hollered out to the group of taxis and vans there and our guy took Alexei back to the big bus down the road. I stayed at the crossing.
Well, what do we do if he’s lost his passport? How will this affect our trip? I could see in my mind a list of worried questions forming and aborted it right then. Linda, didn’t you say this is a trip of Love? Then you gotta trust and know that whatever is best is what is happening. Oy, I can see my theme materializing. Okay, so instead of worry and fear, I trust and send Alexei lots of love. In just a few more minutes he returned, chagrined, because while searching the bus with the help of other passengers, he found the passport in his lower leg pocket. One thing I learned then about Alexei is that he reacts to stuff but doesn’t stay tweaked once it is done, instead, he starts laughing at it. I liked that.
Now we are ready. Once you go through the Egyptian side of the border you have to walk over to the Israeli side. It was kind of very cool for me to be walking into the Holy Land.
I will tell you Israeli security is way more intense than Egyptian. They completely took apart Alexei’s stuff, but, I just now remember that they left mine alone. Hmm.
Finally, done and in our hotel in Eilat. Alexei and I are sharing a room and, while that could be an interesting experience, it is no big deal because Alexei is gay and he is a nurse. So I let go of any awkwardness and chalk it up to more trip experience.
We walked along the boardwalk and shops, then ate overlooking the Red Sea. It was a beautiful night. Alexei was still talking and that was when I found out that, at this time in his life, he is on a bit of a spiritual journey himself. How interesting. I always wonder why it is I have certain people come into my life. I know I always learn from them and I had wondered what this mixing with Alexei and our future companion would bring. As I listened to Alexei talk, I realized that he was doing well in his journey, but he had one complaint. It is one I have heard before.
“I just can’t quiet my mind in order to meditate.” He lamented.
“I have heard that from many people. But, Alexei, I just heard you describe this beautiful place you go to in the woods near your home where you sit and stare at a beautiful mountain and find peace. You are already allowing God to communicate to you, now you just need to listen. In the act of listening, your mind becomes quiet and you can hear your God within. Just do what you are doing and listen.”
His face changed expressions and I knew this had touched him somehow. “Didn’t our mutual friends warn you about talking to me and the things I might say?” I laughed.
“Yeah, it’s good.”
That night, I woke up around two a.m. and had a strong urge to write some things down, so, in the dark and trying to not awaken Alexei, I wrote:
“Do I have nonstop talking or thinking that requires Love/God to interrupt me? Is Love polite and waiting for an opening in order to communicate to me, just as one would do in a conversation with another? Does my mind ever provide such an opening? Does it ever pause its thinking and come to a moment of readiness where I can hear? If I do pause and hear nothing, is it really nothing or am I hearing Love’s communication of peace and quiet? Can I have that? Will I want more? Will it encourage me to take longer pauses in my monologue and listen more?
That is a mediation to me.
On the other hand, if I do have a pause, is it just to prepare my next thought and so Love’s communication gets lost in my verboseness? Does Love have to constantly utilize my brief pauses to slip thoughts into my mind that I am not conscious of because I don’t shut up and pay attention? Is it possible that if I would listen I would hear a whole backlog of thoughts that Love has been communicating to me all along. How many thoughts from Love are waiting for me to hear them? Has God already told me everything? Has it already been inserted into the hard drive of my mind and I just need to be quiet to access it. Is that why Gurus say, “You already have the information inside of you.”?
Or, does Love have to interrupt me, hit me upside the head and get my attention?”
I chuckled as I wrote, recalling a joke about a mule. Farmer Johnson had the best working mule in the county and Farmer Jones was always trying to buy it from him, but, no sale. On the day Farmer Johnson was retiring he agreed to sell the mule to Farmer Jones, but told him he had to treat that mule in the best way possible.
A week later, Farmer Jones came back complaining. “I give that mule everything. His stall is clean, the hay is always fresh, I feed him good, I give him snacks, but he just lays there and won’t even get up.”
Farmer Johnson went to visit the mule. When he got there, he picked up a big stick and whacked that mule across the head. The mule jumped up, ready to go to work.
Appalled, Farmer Jones said, “You told me to be nice.”
“Yeah but sometimes you just got to get his attention.”
I continued writing: “Does Love do that to me; or, is Love politely waiting to speak; or, does Love continually insert thoughts and wait for me to get to a place in my evolution where I can finally hear them? I suspect Love does it all.
When I listen to Love’s peace and quiet is when I begin to feel Love’s peace and quiet. It is in this energy that I can hear Love’s communication. Then the question is: am I able to take it all in or do I only take in bits and pieces to mull over; taking my time to chew on them, test them, challenge them? It’s like being in a cave of diamonds. Can I take it all in and immerse myself in the beauty of all there is; or, do I get sensory overload and need to focus on just one diamond. Then, do I get stuck on that one diamond, that one thought from Love, by trying to categorize, pigeonhole, understand, and figure out how it fits with my perceptions of self, life, God? Can I, instead, just immerse myself in the light and love of the awareness and know that Love has already figured it out? Can I allow Love to guide me into making the information useful and functional in whatever way is best to promote Love, Life and Happiness in my life experience? Am I ready to take off my spiritual burka, to expose myself, to reveal myself, and to allow myself to be my Full Potential?
I dropped my pen. HOLY MOLY where did all of that come from. I don’t know but I like it.