I had just returned from my first dip into the Dead Sea, and I stepped out onto my balcony to hang up my bathing suit for drying. The view of the Dead Sea from my balcony was unbelievably beautiful - the sea doesn’t look dead at all! Lively silvery waves played with the sun, and I could have sat out there and watched the view forever. But a knock on the door disturbed me. I opened it, and a young man of ebony black color grinned at me, flashing his snow white teeth - which had probably never been touched by a dentist.“I don’t need you to clean my room today," I told him, "I just came back from the beach and would like to nap." He shoved me gently aside and entered the bathroom. He dumped a pile of clean towels on top of other clean and unused ones, and he started to dust the room quietly while whistling to himself."Please not today!” I repeated, but he went on with his work. I switched from Hebrew to English, to Spanish. Nothing. No use trying German I figured, the guy just doesn’t understand. So how does one communicate with him? I gave up and settled down on the sofa, watching him work. He worked cheerfully and slowly. I decided to call the desk and ask them to make him go away, but I got the long promotion speech: "Thank you for being a guest in our hotel, please take advantage of...” I hung up realizing that the recorded speech may take longer than the boy’s work. I was very tired and my thoughts started to drift.The young man was evidently a foreign worker. Where did he come from? Does he send his meager earnings to a family abroad? What does his mother do, how does she live?Probably by far not as good as I do, due to accident of birth, geography, skin color or whatever else. Or maybe she has a peaceful life without the internet, telephones and all the other blessings of civilization.I was at a beautiful hotel, and yet I managed to lose my way so often between the spa, gym, pool, dining room and my own room.Every guest of the hotel received a white bath robe, courtesy of the management. Unfortunately, all robes were of the same size: extra extra large. So while the man from the next room who was seven feet tall, and the owner of a remarkable belly, hardly managed to cover the bare essentials, I dragged around half of the robe on the floor after me. I took a daily bath in the Dead Sea. Its water was oily, soft and velvety. I had to hold on to something because I was afraid of floating away. It would be so easy to drift along looking at the bright sky, thinking of nothing and reaching nirvana.
Someone knocked on my door, and there stood a woman with a solemn look on her face:“Are you the lady with the cockroach?” she asked.“What?”“Someone phoned the reception and said she’s got a cockroach. I came to take it!”“What’s your name?”“Paula” she says. “Listen, Paula, if I had a cockroach, believe me, I’d give it to you with the greatest pleasure and my very best wishes!”“Oh," she said, "I must have written down the wrong room number!"The hotel had a private beach, and most guests knew each other already. A woman approached me and said:“I’m Mucky and he''s Noonoo, my husband. He has psoriasis but he plays the piano very beautifully!”Mucky and Noono, the one with psoriasis and the piano! I must remember that!Always prepared for new adventures, I decided to take a dip in the sulphur pool. It was very hot and it reeked, and I was not very happy in there. I hardly stood it for about 15 minutes and then an attendant helped me out and wrapped me in several sheets and blankets.“Now you lie down and rest for about half an hour!" she commanded, " This water makes you tired!” But I was not at all tired. I wanted to get up, leave and go on with my life - but bhe wouldn’t let me! She watched me like a hawk and we started to negotiate and settled at a quarter of an hour.“Ask the doctor," she insisted, "he will tell you that you are supposed to lay here!”In any case, we did not part as friends.I had a bit too much of the salty water, so I moved over to the fresh water pool. Surrounded by countless flowers of all colors, with proud palm trees overlooking it, it seemed like the perfect tropical dream. I rested on a beach chair, where right next to me a good-looking young man was talking on his cell phone. I think he was speaking Swedish. I thought to myself... why not? Maybe I know Swedish and am not aware of it! I turned to him to say something that I thought might be Swedish. Unfortunately he did not think so.He looked completely puzzled and started to stutter:“What? Please? Excuse…”So he knows English and therefore he does not represent a linguistic challenge. They told me that there are many Danish tourists around…I may try again with as Danish person.It was the last day of my vacation in the lap of luxury, and homesickness was mingled with regret. Tomorrow I’ll have to cut my own salad, I’ll have to answer telephone messages, e-mails, run the washing machine and go through letters, newspapers and magazines, and shop for food. I think the worst part about the end to a vacation was getting organized again and having to cope with that unwelcome companion.Stress.