Friday, July 14, 2017

A Moving Experience Thanks to Jerusalem's Arab Quarter


The trip to Jerusalem was my first in a desert since leaving Iraq in 2010. Four days after I arrived in Iraq, the combination of low humidity and exercising in 120-degree heat left me terribly constipated.  The cure was Metamucil every day for the rest of my time in Iraq.

I arrived in Jerusalem the morning of Wednesday, July 5. On Friday, I rode downhill from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. It was nearly 25 miles of downhill, 16 miles steeply downhill. Then in 95-degree heat, I turned around and rode back up the hill--for more than three hours into a 20mph headwind.  I drank all I could, but when I returned after dark I was dehydrated.  And it was Sabbath. All Jewish-owned businesses were shut down. So I walked to an Arab-owned store and bought Gatorade.

But it was too late.

On the Sabbath morning in I woke up in the same state I was eight years before in Iraq: badly constipated in the way only the desert can do to me. 

I am unable to move, so to speak......and it's Sabbath so all the Jewish businesses are closed. Google maps said a pharmacy was open in the Arab district a mile away. After an uncomfortable walk,  I had to ask the young Arab woman behind the counter for Metamucil.

Huh?

Enema?

Huh? 

Then I held my stomach and bent forward. 

"FLEET!" she said loudly with a smile. 

The old Arab woman next to counter smiled knowingly. The clerk sped to the back. When she returned I said , "Two." She smirked. She got another. Usually they ask about shopping bags for purchases here and I don't take them. She put my purchase straight into an opaque bag. I thanked her.

On the way back I stopped at a second pharmacy. The young clerk did not recognize the word Metamucil, but the older pharmacist knew "FIBER!" 

Also loud. Also funny for everyone else. 

Even funnier was that he reached straight for the Israeli brand of fiber. I was clearly an American Jew since I knew no Hebrew and was shopping on the Sabbath.

In an hour I was cured and rode 40 miles up and down a different hill after drinking a lot of water before, during and after the trip. 

I could not even add up all the ironies of having this problem while I was part of the army that invaded an Arab country, then going to Arab pharmacies for the cure when eight years later I am in Israel. 

There are so many jokes I thought of about my condition, I would be wiped out if I made them.

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