We arrived at 4:30 in the morning. When we deplaned, we saw an Israeli attendant standing by the plane's door. I saw a pair of empty wheelchairs behind her, but she told us very sharply that they were not for us. She told us we had to walk a distance down a hallway where we would find another attendant who would deal with us. Around several corners we came to the beginning of a long concourse, where other disabled passengers were getting into a golf cart. There was no room for us and the golf cart drove off leaving us behind. This is where and when we lost our cool. Not one single airport among all of those we'd passed through as we circumnavigated the planet greeted us with the inconsideration we were met with here in our home country. Welcome home world travelers! Some welcome! We had been met with deference and civility and special consideration everywhere else. But this is Israel.
Our rough Israeli edginess had been smoothed over by everyone else's pleasantness everywhere else in the world. It was time for us to adopt that edginess all over again, now that we were back. The thought crossed my mind that it was a mistake to have missed Israel so much. We expressed our pique to the next attendant we saw, who called on her walkie-talkie for another golf-cart and apologized for the rude reception we'd received, but our smoldering thoughts were not doused by her words. Shortly thereafter, another golf-cart rolled up and we were conveyed with an electric purr to where everyone else had gathered for passport control. Here, an attendant standing beside a wheelchair helped Razelle off the golf-cart and helped her get comfortable in the wheelchair. We, as entering citizens, were beckoned forward by the woman in the glass booth when she saw Razelle in the wheelchair, so we didn't even get to or need to use our magnetic cards in the palm reader that we had acquired on our way out of this same airport 121 days ago at the beginning of our Odyssey. Onward we rolled to baggage claim where, without any problems, every single one of our four bags came to us on the conveyer belt. Our bags had circled the world and returned to their starting point, too, a slight bit scuffed compared to their pristine condition at the outset, but without any damage to them, for all the gorillas who'd stacked them in the bellies of all the planes they'd been shoveled into and out of.
All that remained to truly complete our journey now was to get back to Beer Sheva from the airport. Shalev was waiting for us in the arrivals hall. He had been given leave from the army to come after us. We embraced and smiles broadened all our faces. Shalev led us to where he'd parked the car. The first thing I noticed was how dusty it was. I had forgotten how dusty the air is where we live in the Negev Desert. Shalev asked if I wanted to drive, but I let him do that. I wanted him to know we trusted him and I sensed he was pleased to show he could be responsible. We reached home as dawn broke and herded all our bags into the elevator and up to our apartment. Time to decompress!
Four month's worth of traveling led us to where we had started. It was odd to be in our home after so long a time away. We had adjusted to calling each and every temporary accommodation all along our route "home." But these walls around us now embraced us and welcomed us back. Unpacking would wait until we had decompressed. Stories of our travels jumbled together in the telling. Mail had accumulated. The house looked well maintained. An infestation of moths had afflicted our stored food and needed attention while we were gone. The smell of bug spray still lingered in the cabinet. There was very little food in the house. We'd have to stock up again. We had some laundry to do. But we welcomed all these with good cheer. Be it ever so humble there's no place like home … Home Sweet Home.
Did this experience change us? Yes. Inwardly we knew we had accomplished something monumental. No. We were back where we had started. One thing did change worth mentioning. Razelle said our next trip has to be a caravan trip through England and Scotland. I've always had the travel bug. Now Razelle had caught it too. That made my day. In fact, it made everything worth the effort.