Israel 2009, it was an opportunity to travel once again to this ancient and holy land. Leaving the northern climes of the Galilee region we head south through the Judean wilderness on a warm November day. Several quick and deeply meaningful days had happened since our arrival: walking through the lands of Jesus - his hometown, the place of his miracles and teachings and a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, left us in quiet contemplation and in need of catching our breath, as well as our sleep.
Lulled by the hum of the bus motor, the rocking of the coach and the bland desert terrain we struggled to stay awake. The bus quietly slowed, a rest stop? But there was no station in sight. Sam, our guide announced, in somewhat concerned tones, “The bus had faltered and roadside service would be here shortly”, he said with a wry laugh. Of course, there was no such thing, here in the remote section of this desolate land. Driver, Johnny and Sam went to the back of the bus and raised the hood. As mechanics are want to do, they both stood silently assessing the situation nodding and stroking their chins in some sort of universal masculine ritual. The tool box appeared and Johnny got to work, while Sam dutifully handed over each tool in turn. There was a concern in their stance and muffled tones that was not lost on us.
After a brief leg stretch, most of us got back on the bus. When off in the distance a herd of sheep seemed to be lumbering their way toward us, herding by two young men riding on a donkey. They spied us before we saw them. Gleefully, they knew that tourist equals money! Now in a fast trot they made their way to the bus eager to pose for pictures and the promise of reward. In what English they knew, they asked, “Aren’t we handsome?”
Suddenly, the great sound of a running motor filled the air, Johnny had succeeded. Sam knew that the boys would not let us leave easily and so he quickly got us back on the bus, gave the boys the word to go. With great encouragement and a few swiftly muttered prayers, the bus went into first gear and began to lumber forward. As it gained speed we bid goodbye to our handsome friends as they went back to work, please with their good fortune and a little extra spending money and we imprinted life in the desert as a special moment among our souvenirs.