My Little Life–on Wheels

Our little group of three—the Segway instructor, Philippe and I—set off south on the beach promenade, toward Jaffa, the oldest part of Tel Aviv. In the distance, I spot the outline of the old port with its low stone buildings and lone church spire looming above. It’s 10:30 on a Friday morning, mid-October, and the temperature is ideal—hot but not humid, sunny but not sticky. I grip the handle and pitch my body weight forward so the motorized board moves; to stop, I shift my body back.

When I had reserved our spots a month prior—a gift certificate from friends for our joint fiftieth birthdays—the country was quiet. When I called to confirm the one-hour tour earlier in the week, I had considered cancelling. Why roam around on a Segway and risk being slit in pieces?

I ride a few feet behind the instructor and Philippe follows me. I am relieved to be sandwiched between the two men. My body guards.

Midway down the promenade, the teacher stops for a photo opportunity. The Mediterranean Sea glistens against the mid-morning sun.  Usually at this time of year with the temperature around eighty degrees, throngs of beach goers—locals and tourists—pervade the shore. Usually dozens of people swim, surf, and stand upright on paddle boards. Usually, the promenade is clogged with foot and bike and scooter traffic. But nothing about now is usual. Israel relies so heavily on tourism, but each time the cycle of violence erupts, the tourists cancel coming and the country suffers. It takes months, sometimes years, to rebuild.

Nu, afo atem garim?” our guide asks where we live. When we say Raanana, he is surprised; two stabbings occurred there four days earlier, putting us on the terror map, a place where no city or citizen wants to appear. “Ve lo chashavtem lavetel hayom?” he asks if we hadn’t considered cancelling our outing. My husband answers no first, quickly and confidently. I never confessed my fear and doubt because if I had, he would have teased me. “Kol hakavod,” the young man says, giving us kudos, acknowledging our courage.

A red-and-white Magen David Adom ambulance roars do wn HaYarkon Street, its siren warning cars to move. I admit that the sight and its sound make me pause; how can we know if it’s some routine emergency, if emergency can be considered routine, or another stabbing attack somewhere in the city? The guide assures me he is thinking the same thing.

We step back onto our Segways to return north, in the direction of the port, toward our starting point. I glance at the water on my left and the parade of hotels—Sheraton, Hilton, Renaissance and Royal Beach—on my right. We stop for more pictures. I smile at the dozens of red Coca-Cola parasols and chaises lounges for rent. I laugh aloud at a new colorful statue of former Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, a yoga practitioner, standing upside down on his head.

On the ride back, I feel more comfortable steering the Segway, and a sense of freedom and calm envelop me.  One I have not felt all week long as the news of stabbing attacks erupted around the country: Jerusalem, Holon, Afula, Raanana, Tel Aviv. One I welcome to remind me that this country is full of paradoxes and conundrums and that despite the disquiet, the scenery is breathtaking and life marches on. Segway cocaSegway Ben Gurion

Segway port

Leave a Comment

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply