Jerusalem Jeweler Redux – The Friends That Solo Travel Can Find – Part II

In Part I of Jerusalem Jeweler, I met Joseph, a man who crafted me a pair of earrings while we talked in his jewelry shop in the Old City souk on my first solo trip to Israel. I returned to Jerusalem in October of 2009, never having forgotten that I hadn’t paid him.

Today I’m walking again through the souk, the size of a small town with its scores of streets and thousands of shops. I am wearing the turquoise-colored earrings Joseph the Jeweler made for me one and a half years ago because they match my blouse. Having just eaten a sheep’s brain for lunch, I was, while I walked, quickly munching down on a small sweet which I’d grabbed from a sweet shop, to help make the sheep’s brain a distant memory quickly. Suddenly a man appears in front of me, having stepped forward from the doorway of a shop. “Excuse me. May I ask you, where did you get your earrings?”

“Oh, actually I got them right here in Jerusalem,” I say, a little surprised at the question, as I unconsciously raise my hand to touch one of the stones.

“They’re turquoise, you know,” the man says.

“Do you think they really are turquoise?” (For I secretly had thought they must be fake.)

“Oh, yes, definitely” he replies, a genuinely genuine look on his face.

“Well, good.”

“I have a beautiful turquoise necklace that would look great with those if you want to come into my shop,” he says. I look inside the man’s doorway. I see a familiar setting. I look back at the man. I look again inside his shop. I see what appears to be the stool where I sat one and a half years earlier. I look again at the man. “What is your name?!?” I ask.

He thinks for a moment. “Joseph.”

“You made these earrings for me!!!” I cry as I step into his shop. The memory of our first meeting flashes before his eyes and writes itself all over his face. He smiles warmly and reaches out to shake my hand as we laugh and exclaim over this incredible second meeting. To make positively certain it is the real Joseph, I ask him in German if he speaks German. He responds in German that he does. This is definitely The Joseph.

In a reenactment of the first time we met, he pulls a turquoise necklace out of a case. I explain that really, truly, honestly, I am not interested in buying it because it is so expensive and because I don’t wear much jewelry anyway. So, again with a hint of the past he invites me to sit in the back with him.

solo female traveler -Jerusalem, Israel - author with Joseph

Here We Are

We talk as we calm down from the excitement of our second meeting and engage, in part, in the exchange I have found is common throughout my Mid Eastern travels – “Are you married? How old are you?” After a bit, I feel he is tiring of me. I hope this is only because I’m not buying and he doesn’t want to waste any more time or earrings on me and not because he finds me boring. So we shake hands good-bye and I start to leave. He asks how long I am in Jerusalem, and I say two weeks. “Oh, so you can come back to my shop.”

“Yes,” I say. “Do you have a card?”

“No, no card.”

“Well, what street are you on?” I ask, because I was lost, as I am 1,000 percent of the time in all souks.

Joseph looks into the air and thinks. “Via Dolorosa.”

That is a major street in the souk. Even if he is really on it, his shop might be lost in the crowd. “Well, what is the name of your shop?” I ask.

Again, a moment to think. “Joseph’s Shop,” he responds.

Joseph’s Shop? I feel insulted. Why won’t he just tell me the name of his shop?

This man is indeed clever and not inclined to spend one more minute on a definite no-sale girl. So I leave the souk to take a walk on the ramparts.

As I’m walking, my memory smacks me on the head. I had promised myself almost two years ago that if ever, ever I experienced the highly unlikely event of finding Joseph the Jeweler in Jerusalem again, I would buy a pair of earrings from him to make things right after leaving him with empty pockets and a heart-breakingly sad face after our first encounter. Did I remember this solemn and often-thought-of vow when I had the very man right in the palm of my hand? Me? I was just so stunned that he unwittingly stopped me in the street to admire his own handiwork that everything else went flying out of my head.

I get off the ramparts and head straight back into that gob of a souk, walking the Via Dolorosa and every other street that I can find that resembles his, looking in each and every shop, wandering down so many streets I’m sure I’m traveling some of them four times, some of them none. Apparently I make it down his street not even once. Why couldn’t he just tell me the real name of the street he was on – even if he never wanted to see me again because he considered me a massive drain of time? I literally wander the souk for at least an hour trying to find this man.

Tomorrow – I wander again. I have studied a map and tried to reconstruct my initial route. I think he might really be on Al Khanka Street. I hope I am right, because when you start roaming a souk repeatedly, shopkeepers start recognizing you and with recognition comes familiarity and that’s not so great.

In short, I am just shy of obsessing over showing this man that I appreciate his earrings, that I really like his earrings, and that I am going to buy a pair of earrings from him. How did I let my promise to myself vanish in the air when this has bothered me for so long and popped into my head so many times? In Part One of our encounter I skipped out of his shop sporting free and apparently expensive earrings. In Part Two, I got up and trotted out all over again.

I believe when you get that rare second chance at anything on earth, you should go for it. And if you wind up blowing your precious second chance? Make a third chance happen.

Tomorrow – the third chance. I will find Joseph yet again. I will tell him I like his earrings so much I want more. I will buy a pair of earrings from him without haggling over the price. And I will make this situation right. Or else I will get so lost in the souk my frustration will lead me to eat another sheep’s brain.

No, it won’t. I will not mess up my third chance.

Thumbnail colored rocks photo by beggs

15 Comments Post a Comment
  1. “As I’m walking, my memory smacks me on the head.”
    Love it. Sometimes, I wish I had a memory like that. I used to but, now it seems I forgot where I put it.

    Always entertaining and this post is no exception. Think I’ll go signup for one of those Yahoo Buzz things I’ve been hearing about and add another gadget to my arsenal. Test it out here !


  2. Nick says:

    Good luck finding him!

  3. inka says:

    What an entertaining story. Digged it and did everything else magical as Mike instructed.

  4. Candice says:

    Didn’t really that last story was going to continue…ahh! Tell me more!

  5. Sophie says:

    Looking forward to part III :)

  6. Sabina says:

    Thanks so much, Mike. And thank you for the “buzzing.”

  7. Sabina says:

    Yeah, I know. Souks are the most chaotic maze I can imagine.

  8. Sabina says:

    Thank you, Inka!

  9. Sabina says:

    I did manage to find him again, so it continues, all right.

  10. Sabina says:

    I guess there will be a Part III, then. Thanks, Sophie.

  11. […] shopkeeper she has several encounters with in Jerusalem, and is told in three parts: Part I, Part II, Part […]

  12. Great story. I read all 3 parts & enjoyed them. Very entertaining! I really like your travel blog.

  13. Selina says:

    Nice story. I didnt even read the first part lol, going now…
    Selina recently posted..Wine Glass CharmsMy Profile

  14. Sabina says:

    Well, thank you very much!

  15. Sabina says:

    Thank you, Selina. I hope you liked all three parts :)

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