Motorcycle Explorer Issue 17 - Page 18

Travel Story: achinoam harel - israel

So, there I was, on Wednesday evening, at the gate of Yotvata, trying to call Gadi and ask him where he lives inside the kibbutz. But he wasn't picking up the phone. And of course - plot twist - I ran out of battery and my phone turned off. After two hours of waiting at the gate, I decided I need to change my game plan.

I stopped and asked people on the street if they knew a guy by the name of Gadi, but no one had heard of him. I got back on the motorcycle and rode to the centre of the kibbutz. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an office building, with an electrical outlet peeping out from behind a ragged sofa. First things first, I said to myself, let's charge the phone. I went in and saw mailboxes lined with family names. I began to go through one by one to see if there was such a man called Gadi in this village at all. Going through the names, one family name stood out and seemed familiar to me. Maybe I had just gotten confused with the last name?

When an innocent man came in to pick up his mail I pounced on him and asked if he knew a guy with the new surname. "Yes, I think so, come after me." He led me to a small house surrounded by beautiful metal statues. I knocked on the door. There was came a yell "Open!", so I apprehensively turned the handle and opened the door to discover a man and woman sitting on a couch, watching TV.

"Hello, Achinoam!"

"You know who I am? ... were you expecting me?"

"You wrote to us two weeks ago that you might come by. It's just funny that you didn't call to say you were coming."

After a few awkward minutes setting things straight, I realised that all this time I had been corresponding with the wrong person! Gadi, in fact, lives near Sde Boker, about 200 kilometres away, and I had come to Avi in Yotvata! After much embarrassment and laughter, everything was worked out. Despite the surprise, Avi organised the spare bedroom and once again I was amazed and grateful for the never-ending generosity of strangers.

The next morning, Avi showed me his motorcycle - a beautiful BMW R1150GS and told me about his journey in 2006 from Israel to China via Kazakhstan. We fiddled with my motorcycle a little - tightening the chain and filling coolant. After a cup of coffee, and another one, and one last coffee - I continued on my way. This time northbound.

Thursday was more relaxed. Strong winds threatened to blow me off course in Mitzpeh Ramon and made me give up trying to get to Azzuz on the border with Egypt. With the climb north, the landscape changed back to rolling green fields. In the evening, I arrived in the village of Kiryat Malachi to stay with friends of the family. Eran and Sharon know my parents from way back since they went to boarding school together. Over a wonderful plate of dinner (especially for someone whose lunch consisted of an apple and a diet coke at a gas station), I told Eran about my amusing mix-up from the previous night. "Wait a minute, are you talking about who I think you are?!" It turns out that Gadi and Eran have been good friends for years. What a small world!