It’s Thursday, the 24th of May. Since the days and nights are hot the windows are wide open and thus I wake up to the sounds of a busy morning in Granada. I’m staying here with some students, one friend from Poland and another from Italy. At breakfast I meet them, and of course they ask me what I’ll be doing today. I reply that’s it time to leave beautiful Andalucia with it’s palmtrees, lazy Spanish, delicious tapa’s, and great alternative atmosphere in the street. It’s time to go south, make some stops to visit an old friend from meditation in Malaga, see the small English settlement on a rock on the south of Spain, and then hitch a boat to Africa. This continent is so close, how could I ever have waited so long with going there anyway?
Itâ€šÂ´s late at night. Or, at least, the sun is down and the moon has not yet risen. Which is about as precise as my awareness of time usually goes these days. Iâ€šÂ´m lying on the floor in our simple bamboo hut, and through holes in the ceiling I see the stars above, while through holes in the wall I see the dark waves hit the shore below. Wave after wave after wave, in the seaâ€šÂ´s own rhytmic motion. Meanwhile Sky, an English guy and my current roommate in our lazily patched together shelter, lies stretched out on his back and is playing guitar – inbetween the sounds of the sea I recognize the sound of Pink Floyd; Comfortably Numb.
For a week now Iâ€šÂ´ve lived here in this gathering on the beach, in a small bay on the south coast of Spain. Some days of this week have done justice to the picture many people have of Spain as a hot country – on these days it was comfortable enough for nudism on the beach, even in March. Most days have been rainy and cloudy however, and I spent these wrapped up in two warm sweaters reading some Eckhart Tolle or playing chess under the shelter which is our kitchen.
No matter though if itâ€šÂ´s some abandoned Spanish beach, a mountain top in Poland or some kibbutz in Israel, the places I go to are actually only the superficial layer of my travels. Of much more significance is the personal journey – the journey to get to know myself. My own mind is in the end a lot more important in creating happiness or misery for myself then anything outside can ever be.
September 2005. Itâ€šÂ´s a while back already that I left into the big unknown! Back then I didnâ€šÂ´t have much perspective on what was happening; I was only following my heart, which just told me that I really, really had to go.
The months before I left many people where continuously projecting their doubts on me; â€šÂ¨How will you ever find a job now that you didnâ€šÂ´t finish your study? Youâ€šÂ´ll never manage with money!â€šÂ¨, â€šÂ¨You are crazy! You will never find a house so nice as this again!â€šÂ¨, â€šÂ¨If you donâ€šÂ´t have a house, where can you go when your tired of travelling? Youâ€šÂ´ll have no place to go!â€šÂ¨, â€šÂ¨How will you deal with this, how will you deal with that?â€šÂ¨, etcetera, etcetera.
I just ignored all this chatter, much like I nowadays am learning to ignore the continuous background chatter of my own mind.
So, am I sorry that I followed my heart? Of course not! For sure there where some difficulties, challenges, depressions, a quarterlife crisis and what not, but that doesnâ€šÂ´t mean I regret anything.
City life proved a bit to much for me after all. One night I wake up in the pitchdark in a friends house – which is totally empty except for me. I imagine the walls around me, since I canâ€šÂ´t see them. In one corner thereâ€šÂ´s a small window though, where a tiny amount of light is seeping in. The look out of this window I know very well – itâ€šÂ´s a small indoor square with 20 meter high rising walls all around. Which in the end is not so different from the view out of the living room – walls on the other side of the street, and concrete and cars in between.
Life can be so easy!
I always knew that I could go and live in Granada if I wanted to. Now I decided to actually go and do it. However, I wasnâ€šÂ´t very much looking forward to having no place of myself while hunting for a room, and, more importantly, to spending Christmas and New Year without family or good friends nearby for the first time in my life.
But somehow things always figure itself out (of course!).
The more I see of Israel the more I start to appreciate the diversity. Religious diversity: there of course jews, a large number wearing a small round hat (the kippa); there are conservative jews, dressed in black with an untidy beard. They pray standing up, small prayer book in the hand and while praying they bob back and forth all the time. Muslim Arabs are also to be found in many of the corners, and thus of course also mosques. There are also Christian Arabs, German Christian settlers (which are truly an category by themselves), Druze; a religion which keeps very much to itself, some major religious sites for the Bahai religion, and some Armenian Christians.
As far as nature is considered there are the Golan Heights – the one place in Israel where you can ski. There’s the Death Sea, the desert, the lake of Galilea, and probably other places of interest which I missed up to now. There are biblical places, Jerusalem, the Jordan river (I spent one morning watching the white-robed pilgrims getting baptised by their holy man. It doesn’t look so comfortable, but the official certificate of being baptised in the same place as where Jesus got baptised seems to make up for a lot.)
There are Palestinian territories here and there – the West-Bank is not, like I used to think, one big piece of Palestinian controlled territorry, but consists of about a dozen small chunks of complete Palestinian controlled territories. Of course, as soon as I thought about going to Israel, I knew already that I’d be going to Palestine. From several sources I get the impression that in Palestine the city of Jeriho in the West-Bank is a good place to visit. So one day I go to the road and hitchhike in the direction of Jeriho. The young guy who drops me of just outside the Palestinian territory asks me: “Do you want my telephone number, in case you need any help at all?” He looks a little bit worried, so I answer: “Well, I can give you a phonecall if I get out of Palestine to let you know that I’m allright.” He takes a long look at me, then smiles and says: “No, not necesarry, you’ve got the look of somebody who can take care of himself.”