persephone_rivka's Travel Journals


What was your most challenging travel experience?

10 days in the hospital with traveling companion

  • Currently in Kibbutz Lotan, Israel

Dancing around the Sun

This journal will chronicle pieces of my thoughts and experiences over the next four months at Kibbutz Lotan.

An Excerpt from the Travelogue

Jordan Petra, Jordan  |  Sep 26, 2010
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Before heading to Jordan, Noah and I walk to the red sea, jump in for a quick dip, and meet two Israelis, Avi and Michal, who, serendipitously, are driving to the Jordan border. We go with them, all the way to Wadi Musa. Petra by night is gimmicky and lame. I am deathly ill. Noah basically carries me out of the park until we find someone who gives us a lift back to the hostel. Miraculously, I’m well enough to explore Petra the next day. We walk and climb all over the place. It’s beautiful, but I have trouble taking it all in because I’m still recovering from last night’s fever. (My body aches and my lungs feel as though they are ready to collapse in my chest.) After a long day, Noah and I split up so that he can hike a more strenuous path to the high place of sacrifice. (Knowing my limits, I sacrifice the high place.) With every ounce of strength left in my body, I make my way out of the sikh, until a Jordanian boy sees me struggling and offers to bring me up by horse. I tell him, no, I have no money, but he persists to ask. Again, I say, really, I honestly don’t have any money left, and again, he says, please, I’m done with work for the day, I’m heading up to the top, you don’t have to pay, just join me. So, I ride his horse along the path that leads out of Petra. This boy - Mahmoud - invites me to drink tea with him on his favorite rocky perch on the outskirts of the park. From this place I’m able to see flocks of tourists slowly leaving Petra, and I stand up to flag Noah when I see his bright red tank top amidst the crowd. That night Noah and I join Mahmoud on his other favorite outlook. Mahmoud brings food, drinks, and plays music from his cell phone. He asks Noah and I to teach him how to dance like an American - we laugh and shake our heads, there is no such thing, how sad our culture is, but really, we don’t have a common way of dancing. Mahmoud insists that we teach him, so we try our best, but he keeps playing afroman, akon, backstreet boys - all of our least favorite American pop songs. Noah and I can’t stop laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation, as the three of us try to dance like an American, to rude boy by rihanna, on a cliff overlooking all of Petra. Mahmoud thinks that all American music is shallow, meaningless. He said that Arabic music is always from the heart. It’s about love. Real love. Seeing a girl from a far and longing to hold her. He taught us some dance moves too. His way of dancing being, of course, much more sophisticated. Mahmoud tell us jokes that make fun of other Arabic-speaking nations (Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Bedouins), we just can’t understand the punchlines because we are unfamiliar with their respective cultural nuances. We laugh as though we get it. Mahmoud doesn’t get why we would want to spend all of our time in Israel. He teaches us some Arabic words - like meshi, tamam, a phrase that sounds exactly like hakol b’seder - but scolds me when I say sababa because “I sound like an Israeli.” Exhausted from the day's events, Noah and I eventually initiate leaving. Mahmoud pulls me aside, gets down on one knee, and pleads with me not to go. He tells me, tonight, there are two moons, one is in the sky, and one is you. I am firm with my need to go home. The look on his was as though I was crushing his whole world. He had gone out of his way to pull his ideal night together, but the last part - me - just couldn’t go as he expected. And that was that. (Previously, I had written in my journal that "I learn more from people than from the things their ancestors built")

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