Jordan Valley, Israel
Cleaning out our purses after our trip to Israel, we pulled out what seemed to be hundreds of small square and rectangle slips of paper. Tickets, endless tickets. For the bus, the train, the light rail. Something made us want to keep them all. They were small reminders of beautiful little moments. Little reminders of Israel.
Like the sweet bus driver we so often got as we went out from Jerusalem, who went so slow through the winding, dusty roads in the desert, unlike most Israeli bus drivers.
Or the bus driver who couldn’t speak a work of English but ever so cheerfully would greet each passenger with “Boker Tov”; Hebrew for “Good Morning” and fully expecting to get a hearty “Boker Or” meaning “Morning Light” in response. Who also sang along to Mediterranean style Hebrew songs the entire ride and even got up to dance when people filed off.
Or of the time the bus was so crowded, as it so often is on Sundays when the soldiers have to return to their bases, that some people had to sit on the floor in the aisle. One girl offered everyone chips and then, sitting on the floor, pulled out her guitar and started playing a song for the entire bus to hear.
Or of the time we were on a bus trip that was supposed to take a half hour. We waited anxiously to hear our stop announced over the loudspeaker in that memorable tone, “HaTachana HaBa’a-Mifgash HaBeka’a”. I never thought I could miss the sound of the voice on a bus loudspeaker. There seemed to be hundreds of stops, and as the time went to forty five minutes and then an hour, we began to panic that we missed our stop. So we asked the Israeli sitting in front of us ,and speaking with bits of broken English, he assured us that we still had plenty of time. As the loudspeaker announced stop after stop, he could sense our worry and after each one, he turned around with a reassuring “almost, not yet, don’t worry”.
Or the time there was a detour right before the stop at the central bus station. Everyone on the bus thought they knew the best way to get around the detour and one by one, you saw all types of people come up to the front seat next to the driver to offer their advice. Soft spoken, loud, yelling, calm, frantic. It was quite a sight to see.
Or the Israelis willing to go to the end of the world to make sure you understand how to get to your destination even if it means missing their bus and personally bringing you to yours, or even writing a sweet handwritten note in Hebrew to the bus driver to make sure he flags you down when it’s time to get off at your stop.
Or the concerned bus driver who refuses to open the door for you when he remembers that you told him you were going to the gardens and won’t let you off knowing it’s the wrong stop.
Or the time that the bus driver went so fast around the bends that all tourists on the bus flew out of their seats. The Israelis, remaining perfectly still, were clearly used to this.
Or the time you see a young soldier going home for Shabbat who falls asleep on the shoulder of the stranger sitting next to him.
Its amazing that buses and bus stops have become some of our favorite places in Israel. You never know who you’re going to sit next to. Every trip is an adventure and would be so sad to miss.