All around the little city of Eilat are circles or what I learned to call ’round-abouts’ in Wales, one of my favorite places in the world. On each circle along the roads tracing through Eilat are different statues, landscapes and landmarks. It’s common for directions shared to use these rounds to describe which way to go. There’s the ‘pencil cup’ near Ben Gurion University of the South. There’s the kinor (harp) circle. There’s one with images of a pregnant woman. One with a crown. Fact is, there are few to no actual stop signs anywhere to be found here.
Obviously with round-abouts you don’t have the same back ups and build ups in traffic. People merge their way coming to a circle and branch off where necessary. In my tenure here, never have I seen a wreck at one of these round cross-hairs of pavement. Everyone is headed somewhere and totally stopping is nearly unnecessary. This is literal and metaphorical experience.
Where such a high percentage of life in Eilat is dependent on tourism, no one can afford to upset the guests that come here. Reputation means everything. A stoppage can cause that one moment that might upset one person and, now more than ever with social media, viral upsets are all the rage.
But wait. No. Stop. What is so essential in this place is the importance to be able to stop, breath, rest, enjoy. Somehow, isn’t that one of the top reasons people go on vacation? And yet people don’t hardly pause. They go and go and go. They shop till they drop. They eat and drink as if they have been starving for months. They just don’t stop. They shove every minute full of entertainment and going somewhere to do something. It’s not uncommon even for families who live here to be out with their kids late into the night. When do people sleep?
It’s true Eilatis depend on tourism and much of everything earned here by locals is dependent on all those daily flights and bus tours coming into this fair city. The locals can’t stop. They have to feed, make beds and do song and dances for every whim of the visitors. Appeasing people is not easy, but in this world it is essential for survival. Stopping for self is not encouraged yet everyone here longs for those stolen moments of a little extra sleep, a quiet time at the beach, a walk in the park. Everyone’s body, mind and spirit needs a break so that we don’t have an involuntary shut down.
The circle round-abouts in Eilat are the city’s valves allowing the life blood of tourism and its workers to keep flowing in all directions. Nevertheless I wish a bit more stops were in place here. No I don’t want to cause a stroke or heart attack to the city’s life force. Rather I am referring to the patrons as well as the workers. With just a little stoppage, a little less push, a little less demand, a little less want, may allow the pauses in life everyone really needs.
It’s true there is a break of sorts around January till March. In fact some places even shut down and put many workers on government supplement to get by for those three months. That break is not a vacation for most. The hand to mouth existence doesn’t afford it. So everyone just keeps going. Like the round-abouts, day to day sometimes is just like going round in circles. Finding one’s personal inner destination is part and parcel the journey of life no matter where you are or where you’re going.
For those who will drive through these words most will not be locals living in Eilat. Still may the round-abouts of Eilat remind you to do just the opposite once in a while; just stop. Enjoy the views, the landscapes and scenery. Maybe if you can slow down a little you might just actually see how the round-abouts will lead you to where you’re meant to be.