Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Bus to Nowhere

That's how Elie described the bus he took today, as "a bus to nowhere." He left early this morning. We had a debate as I drove him early this morning, whether it was better for me to drive him north about an hour and a half or leave him at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem.

I ended up leaving him there and continuing on my own, as he took several buses to reach his destination, far off in the Golan Heights. When I dropped him off, he had only a few moments to get to the bus. He made it with seconds to spare. When that bus arrived at its destination, there was already a bus waiting. The rule, for these buses is that it goes at a certain time...or before if it fills. It filled as Elie got on it - and so it was off in within minutes of his arrival. When it got to its destination, "I took a bus to nowhere," Elie told me.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

It is a bus filled only with soldiers, climbing high into the Golan Heights and stopping at several bases along the way. Other passengers are allowed on it, but most of the time, it is soldiers, only soldiers.

I called Elie along the way to see where he was, spoke to him again this evening. Last week, his unit spent time getting the equipment ready for the training that will begin soon. This means cleaning it, preparing it, and inspecting it. Today, they got their personal gear ready.

"What else did you do today?" I asked.

"Not much," he answered. They went driving in some jeeps to see where they would be training soon.

"And tomorrow?" I asked.

"Nothing much. Really nothing much." And that was when he explained. There are some major training exercises going on in the north, as there often are. For all that the world loves to give it so much attention, the Golan Heights is a tiny piece of land. I'm too tired to Google the exact distances, but you can drive the entire length and width in an hour - and it only takes that long because the roads are so winding and narrow. Having so much weaponry in so small an area could easily lead to accidents.

So, tomorrow there are major training exercises and that means Elie and his unit have to keep off the firing ranges. Nothing unusual, but I loved the way Elie explained it, "Jeep versus tank," he said. "Jeep loses."

So tomorrow, Elie and his unit will NOT be driving off-road with jeeps, which I guess is a good thing considering that tomorrow, like today, is supposed to be very hot and miserable, not to mention all those tanks.

Today, Elie took a bus to nowhere, and tomorrow, the jeep will go nowhere too.

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