Sababa by Design

Being a naturally negative person (born into a spectacularly negative family), I looked for anything that might have disappointed us in our old/new-to-us caravan. Fearful that wild animals and scary insects might attack us in our sleep, we awakened each morning surprisingly unscathed. Every time I chased away ravens at the trash bin or vinegar-sprayed the relentless parade of plack ants on plates, pillows and books, the husband reminded me frequently that there was a price to enjoying nature. While the aforementioned was distressing but not dangerous, a more concerning episode of the remarkably unstressful holiday occurred upon confronting the portable toilet and accompanying instruction manual for contents disposal. A memorable moment in modern camping that I had hastily glossed over while perusing related websites.
  I had planned to work on my novel and write a few articles because it seemed logical that my creative muse would soar in such pristine surroundings. Consequently, I’d schlepped the laptop to watch movies at night, stay in touch with Facebook friends and events, Skype and Zoom with Mom and grandchildren and, of course, stay current with news stories that bore following. In turn, my husband brought his bicycle, reluctantly leaving mine behind. I had made it clear that I did not intend to cram more activities into a vacation that was, for me, only about curative relaxation. My plans for physical activity were limited to building nightly bonfires and walking to the beach across the road once or twice a day. Finito.
  The trailer park was quite packed when we arrived. I spent Friday afternoon assembling a simple Shabbat meal on the grill and hoped the secular vacationers wouldn’t prove to be too distracting. We were happily surprised when a few men came to my husband just before candle lighting, asking if he would lead a quorum for prayer. While most of the participants were not Torah observant, they were respectful and allowed us a holier Sabbath than we’d expected.
  Forty-five minutes after completing the Havdalah prayer that ushers out the Sabbath, the entire caravan park was empty! We were suddenly alone among now-cavernous spaces, feeling oddly exposed, vulnerable and adventurous.
  The beach was sparsely populated on Sunday, with only a few locals reading the paper and basking in the sun. The municipal lifeguard was on duty. Arabic conversations swirled about with a sentence or two of Russian wafting through the air. I became aware that in five days, I hadn’t heard English. Settling on Hebrew, my husband struck up a lively conversation with Abdullah, a 70-year-old Bedoin who lived 10 minutes away. His seven sons had all served in the Israeli army, were now married and living around the northern region. Both men discussed the current strife unfolding between Jew and Arab in Jerusalem. Neither became heated or loud while making their points. Abdullah made a statement that could be construed by some as anti-Semitic but, while standing in crystal water, under a hot sun, felt more like misinformation than maliciousness. Like a grown-up, my husband took the time to explain. I asked Abdullah something about Bedoin women and marriage which could easily be construed as racist and, just as my husband had done moments before, he explained something that I hadn’t known. Neither man climbed upon a soapbox or spewed ideologies. The two 70-year doppelgangers—one an Arab and one a Jew—concurred that the things that were most important now included peace at home, satisfaction from children, good coffee and tranquility. 
  Due to the pandemic, we’d lost a year of communing with nature and people. But out of this loss has, perhaps, arisen the gift of planning and awaiting the unexpected. 


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