Part 1 - 'Hippie Love', a puppy love story of a generation.
If you have been the sinking pupil of the class for two years you may at least have learned to swim. And exactly that was my puberty's investment. In summertime in the swimming pool of Delfzijl, top North in the Netherlands, first one in at seven in the morning and at least two daily kilometres.
Cashed up a few hundred guilders I got rucksack together, scratched 'BORAS' on a shred of cardboard, tore myself away from home and took to the highway.
I savoured the lethal frown of a Calvinist class maid, who drove by with her mother in a DAFt fully automated perambulabile.
One day, across from me at the fountain, a girl was drawing and I could not keep my eyes off her. She had short and sunny hair with bouncy whirls and a face full of carefree grace. We had a chat and that evening ate flamingly expensive Chinese grub.
Part 4 - 'Washed in by the sea and descended between the mountains'
On the grapevine I had heard there was ‘a very good scene’ in Oslo. That suited me fine, as Borås was on the way up-only 80 km east of Gotenburg. Out there first before a natural balance would restore itself. I don’t know exactly what I had expected, but still it was disappointing, although that night I spent the night in a house with seven girls and one other guy.
To fund all this I had acquired the position of ‘cassarolier’ at restaurant ‘Regnbuen’, clearly the ultimate ‘chic’ of the entire city. There I ate royally and for free, though I did contract dropsical digits. Some unintended incident occurred: the chefs had worked the whole afternoon on a gigantic salad in the shape of a fish. Tish was no ordinary salad all agreed as we stood nearly at attention to take leave when it was wheeled into the restaurant.
Because I had friends in London I soon travelled on. I had met Theresa in Brussels on my Easter escape and together we had hitchhiked to Luxembourg, to Dinant and next to Appingedam. She wore a miniskirt and always had a notebook handy for poetic ideas that she wrote in spotless pale blue calligraphic characters on the pages.
As I did not want to go to my parents I went looking for shelter in Groningen. Together with a cunning cigarette vending-machine thief by the name of Heino I ‘avant la lettre’ squatted in a condemned house and thus became a derelict denizen. The windows already had been painted grey so we did not need any curtains.
That evening I arrived at the youth hostel in Salzburg and met Caroline, a lively Australian girl that had 'done' Europe on her own and now was heading for Tehran. As Istanbul was on the way we decided to hitch together. We hiked through the sleet all day and by the evening passed Graz.
At about six o’clock in the morning, I opened my eyes in the middle of Istanbul. Somewhat taken aback a few minutes later I came to in a city that had awokenhours ago. I walked about a bit and wished I had a thousand eyes. I addressed a hairmate and asked him where the ‘scene’ was. He pointed out the teahouse opposite the ‘Blue Mosque’ and but for thehubbly-bubblies it looked as if I was back in Amsterdam.
After fourteen days I embarked and moored in Izmirlater that day. Desperately I went looking for medical help, but I ran out of time and boarded again and showered in vain if only to be able to unashamedly scratch myself. Still three full days to Haifa. Meanwhile the wind was ever increasing and in the middle of the night the engines stopped.
So Israel it was and how now. I had already noticed that the price level of Istanbul belonged to a different world. Here everything cost even more than in Holland. My 90 dollars would not last long, so I went on the lookout for work, maybe at a kibbutz. In Istanbul I had learned that Eilath in the very south was the hippie paradise of Israel.
In the evening at Leon’s Café I managed to secure a sleeping place in the Wadi. This is a usually dry riverbed and if not, you’d better run for your life. We slept under only the tent shell. When I woke in the morning, some more people had come in for the night, one of whom was Carol, a Jewish girl from New York. When she told me she was looking for work in a kibbutz and had heard there might be an opportunity in Ein Geddi, we decided to go and have a look together.
The next day we finally met Pedro, the viceroy of the ‘tourists’, as we were named. We agreed to work for board, lodging and 30 Israeli pounds a month, approximately 45 euros. And now of course we first had to go back to Eilath to fetch Carol’s stuff.
We lived in barracks, a bed, a chair and a closet, two people to a room. We ate collectively in a very large dome-shaped dining hall with a lot of light coming through the glass ceiling and the food was great, in particular the salads and everything in abundance.
Saturday was our day off on account of the Sabbath. I was curious about the origin of the brook and decided to do some upstream reconnaissance. For insofar as there was a path, it went straight up and every now and then I took a rest with all around me the magnificent view across the Dead Sea and the rock grit milled down by centuries of interaction between heat and cold.
It looked more like a mirage from a comic book, but from the kibbutz you could clearly see there was a cave. Now such a theme alone would alert the monkey in the man. To that add the Death Sea Scrolls having been found in a cave near Ein Geddi and you are halfway the scenario of a riveting adventure.
The Dead Sea has a drop of approx. 60 cm because of the irregular afflux from the Jordan River. At high tide you can hardly see she is dead, but at low tide her shores are bordered by a white saline zone, in which small objects like pebbles and branches are encapsulated by salt. At many locations along the shore there are showers and this is no superfluous luxury.
Eilath, where else? We were sitting in the wadi and conferred. There were too many people to accomotent. In itself it was not too difficult to build new tents with the canvas that was generously dumped by the army.
We decided to find a new spot.
Another inhabitant was Jim the Bricklayer, with a heart of gold, from England as well, and a tough mate in the Timna copper mines. That month we worked for a subcontractor. We rose at 5 o'clock and then hurried to the bus stop in Eilath. Seats were for the regular workers, we would drowsily hang off a loop while the bus tore for 23 kilometres, more beside than on the road.
Soon Carol transferred to Steve. I did protest, but soon resigned myself in relief to the role of sympathetic loser. There were no other female permanent residents in the village, but each night we had visitors from all over the world.
After nearly a month, I was given a new assignment in Timna. I got a helmet with a lamp on top and went underground. In Eilath you could buy 'jewellery': rings, bracelets, pendants and the like showing 'Eilathstone', polished copper ore veined by magnificent blues and greens. In the mine I saw entire walls of this stunning beauty.
The very first time I was in Eilath a mammoth tanker was moored in the Gulf. Apart from all speculation it was a known fact that the shipping company had gone bankrupt and we made plans to go and take a look. It was too far to swim, so we looked for and found a small boat. We rowed towards the ship, took a halfway break and I dived overboard.
We, of East Village, had prepared a grand Moon festival for that same evening and so there was food enough for all of us. Later the people who worked in Timna came to us via the wadi. Max, a Dutch Jew, told me:
'We came over the top and saw the burning remnants; I felt like I was having a heart failure. Irv, a burly American from Alaska, ran into the wadi shouting 'Nazis, fascists'.
Another thing we planned to do was going into the desert. Jordan and Israël are separated by the valley of the Negev Desert through which the river Jordan once seems to have continued its course via the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. We followed this valley, initially to the north and went west into the mountains once we were certain that we had left Eilath behind us. Here also were heaps of rubble, but the higher we went the less damaged the rocks were.
Karen had not gone straight back to Copenhagen at all, but instead had spent another month in Israel. When I was in Ein Geddi, she was in Eilath. By now she had her own apartment in Copenhagen and invited me with lots of love. I could even come and live with her. A life full of love was smiling at me.
The Greek ship that took us to Piraeus, Athens’ harbour, was set up quite a bit more Spartan than her Turkish colleague. No bunks here, let alone cabins, only baguettes available from the crew at exorbitant prices.
It was nearly midnight, when I was dropped off just before the Yugoslavian border. That was not good. Motorists do not like picking up hitchhikers there, because you never know what contraband or state-hate someone might carry in his rucksack. You do realise that international customs hold the driver responsible for cargo, including passengers.
And they kept on taking me along, although I often had to listen for hours to how they had not collaborated during the war. Finally I reached the riveted arch of my lost paradise: the ferry from Putgarden to Rodbyhavn.
The last edition takes place a month later, because I first needed to find a job in Holland to earn the money to travel to Copenhagen. As I am rather short of cash this very moment it seems a good idea to end the story in real-time. The 30 editions actually cover a year. The final edition will appear on May 25th. If it so happens that some readers might get impatient I invite the lot of you to write your own ending and send it to me. I will award the most original ones with a copy of my brand new DVD, ‘Dolphin Address’.
After a night of sleepless torture in the youth hostel of Burg, a cursed stone’s throw away from Putgaarden, I had no choice but to go to Holland. With my heart bleeding I arrived in Hamburg and found the situation for hitchhiking simply impossible: the through traffic used the left lane because the exiting traffic ‘was in’ the right.