Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Broken Boots and Other Hazards of Hitchhiking

This week’s post is brought to you in honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut and all things Israel. To celebrate our unique country and its birthday, Arbitribe presents a true story that would never happen anywhere but in Eretz Yisrael.

During my year in Israel, when my hair was still slightly purple, the future was a distant speck, and unicorns and rainbows abounded in the wonderfulness that was spring, my friends (who for the sake of this story shall be referred to as S and L) and I got invited to a family in Moshav Beit Meir* for Shabbat. Essentially, we were to travel from Jerusalem to a beautiful little spot in the middle of nowhere. So we packed our bags, picked up a lovely bouquet for our hosts, and got on one of those thirteen-person sherut cabs Israel has in abundance. We piled into the back row, where the only other person present was a vaguely creepy spiky-haired guy.

As the sherut bounded along down the highway, we girls chatted it up in the back row, until we became vaguely aware of the slightly creepy spiky-haired guy...

Who was staring at us...

Very intently staring at us...

Okay, leering...

Um... yeah.

So we sat as far away from the guy as we could, which wasn’t really that far, considering the vehicle's size. He then proceeded to start the most typical of Israeli hit-ons, which went something along these lines:

Spiky Hair: You girls buy flowers for me, nu?

Freaked-out L: No. No. Lo Lecha!

Spiky: Come ooooonnnnnn. You buy for me, no?

L: No! LO!

Spiky: Heyyyyyyy, yafah, sababa?**

Us: (attempting to ignore)

Spiky: (apparently insulted at our lack of decorum) Amarti, SABABA??????

Eventually, the driver called out the stop for Beit Meir. We were ecstatic to get off the sherut and away from creep-man; that was until we saw that apparently his definition of "Beit Meir" was “the middle lane of a highway”.

Us: Are you sure this is the place?

Driver: Go that way.

Us: Where? Down that tunnel? How?

Driver: What you think? Tremp!!

For those of you who don’t know, to Tremp is to hitchhike. Hitching a ride is pretty popular in Israel, although the safety of tremping varies depending on where you are and in what part of the country. Being American, we weren't sure which part we were in. All we knew was we were in the middle of the highway, and cars were going at 70 mph.

So, after L called our host to make sure we were actually somewhere in the vicinity of Beit Meir (“Tremp!” our host advised), we decided to do the un-American thing and walk.

We walked down into the tunnel and out along the highway, onto a mountain road with a gorgeous view, talking about what a funny story this would make when suddenly…

There we stood with my sock sinking into the mud, wondering whether we should brave playing chicken on a road in a country where no one looks ahead while they drive, or whether we might be safer rappelling down the cliffside. And then, salvation!

L: Ein Kesef!!!!!

Driver: Bo’i! I’m late!


Driver: Shum Bea’aya. I going there anyway!


We clambered aboard, loving G-d for loving us. The driver was an older, typical Israeli, loud and smiling. When he saw my muddy sock, he got excited.

Driver: What happened l’na’alech?

Me: It ripped.

Driver: I have shoe for you. (Digging under seat while driving, produces a plastic bag) Some girl leave her shoes here. You need them?

Me: Um… Todah, lo.

Driver: You sure? She leave them m’lifnei harbei z’man! I don’t think she want them anymore.

After I assured him that I didn’t need the stranger's shoes he’d been storing under his seat for several months, the driver turned to the question that every Jew over forty loves more than a box of kittens and free food combined.

We assured him that while we were, in fact, single, we weren’t looking for him to set us up.

Driver: You sure? I going to pick up Bachurim at the Yeshiva right now. Lots of booooooooyyyyyys.

Us: No, thank you.

Eventually, the sign for Beit Meir came into view, and we rejoiced at the prospect that we would arrive at our destination in one piece.

The driver had a coy smile on his face that told us maybe we’d better take our chances jumping out the window. But then his intentions became clear as he pulled up to the Yeshiva he’d been telling us about, where at least twenty-five black-hatted guys stood impatiently waiting for their ride…

I'm fairly certain that just about did it for L.

S and I caught up with her and squelched our way up the muddy dirt road to our host’s house by the Moshav entrance. There, we had a good laugh.

Well, yeah. You knew that had to happen.

We made it to our host’s house. Shabbat was wonderful. I borrowed L’s purple crocs. Our hosts were super friendly. We slept in a trailer in their backyard, where S particularly enjoyed our rural setting.

And after Shabbat, we were advised to tremp our way back to Jerusalem, a more economical and (since our starting point was a town where everyone knew each other) safer option than trying to flag down a cab on the side of the highway.

We stood by the Moshav entrance, where a lone backpacker was also waiting. Several cars flew on by, ignoring us, when the backpacker got sick of it and did what any sensible person would do.

Perhaps the waiting had made him suicidal. Maybe he thought the road was as good a place as any for a nap. Maybe he was just sick of that backpack. Either way, it worked. The car stopped and offered him a ride, which is as big a miracle as any, since I'm fairly certain most people would have much rather called the strange man in the road a cop car before they let him in theirs.

Welcome to Israel. Nowhere else can you be ditched by the side of the road and picked up by another cab for free “cause he’s going that way anyway”, plus get offered a pair of strange shoes AND 25 blind dates, all in under an hour. I love our little country.

* A Moshav is a tiny town in a rural area

**Sababa is Israeli slang. It basically means "alright" or "cool"


  1. Seriously? That ACTUALLY happened to you. Wow.
    That's ridiculous.

    PS. Really curious to know who L & S are. I have a few guesses but I'm not sure.

  2. Omg Aliza, "S" showed me this story and it's so funny. Plus the illustrations make it awesome. We couldn't decide which of you was which in the picture with the wolf. I'm pretty sure she's the one sleeping but she seems to have freckles.
    Anyway, HAHAHA. Loved it. Kinda glad I wasn't there.

  3. Thanks, guys! Rel, she's actually the one sitting up excited about the wolf. Glad you enjoyed the story though!

  4. This post is amazing! Highly entertaining and fabulous illustrations. Aliza, I am a big fan.

  5. haha i remember this story! i cant remember who was with you though and from the drawings i can only guess.

  6. I don't know who L is, but this personifies the two of you that I do know. :P

  7. Speechless!
    I LOVE the whole thing - the actual story, the way you wrote it, and the pictures!!!


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