Thursday, July 19, 2018

My Last Days in Ibiza: Remembering the Good Samaritan

Dave Guetta in Ibiza
In my last days of Ibiza, I met a guy named Jose - who was from the Spanish countryside and could only speak Spanish. He said I was the only guest he could talk to, because the other guests only spoke English. Only the staff in our hostel could speak Spanish. (That's probably true.) He was only 20, and he never left Spain. He was a social guy and wanted to talk to everyone, and it was then he realized how disadvantaged he was because he didn't speak English.

I invited him to have coffee with me in the morning. He insisted on paying. I thought that was kind of him.

Over coffee, he told me about the foods from the Spanish countryside. I'm rather sure that Hemingway writes about his homeland in The Sun Also Rises or The Dangerous Summer. Jose told me about how they ate eel and the throats of certain fishes. He said they were delicacies. He's a hunter, and he showed me pictures of his hunting dogs.

* * *

At dinner, Jose broke a clip on the table that held the tablecloth to the table. Our waiter looked high on drugs.

The waiter told off Jose. Jose took it personally.

He was so upset, he left back to the hostel.

I was still hungry; so, I ordered a paella at a different restaurant down the street. It wasn't the best. I also bought some chocolate.

I came back to the hostel and gave Jose the rest of my paella and chocolate. That made him happy. He talked about how stupid the waiter was.

I told him why he needed to get so upset over a guy who he'll never see again. I wanted to tell him in Spanish that he didn't need to get so upset about such silly things. It was then I realized the limitations of my Spanish, because I never counseled anyone in Spanish like this before.

* * *

The next morning, Jose joined me for coffee again. He tells me he hates Ibiza.

I ask why.

He says, "I don't want to talk about it."

"What's wrong?" I ask.

After much cajoling and persisting, he tells me the truth. His grandmother passed away just a few hours ago, and he needed to leave the island.

He doesn't have a proper credit card. He's panicky and anxious and starts biting his nails and hitting himself.

I tell him: "Stop!"

He says, "No, Uncle! I can't!"

I smile to myself. Have I become that old, already? Maybe not how I look, but I guess if you tell young people to behave, you become their uncle.

I say, "You're grandmother is dead. Can you do anything to change that?"

He thinks about it and says, "No."

"Then calm yourself down and relax. Acting crazy like this isn't helping."

He thinks about it and stops some. We come up with a plan.

I buy his ticket; he pays me in cash. His credit card can't buy the ticket. So, I buy it. I'm flying out tonight. We'll go to the airport together.

I take him to the beach. He breaks down. He cries. People stare at us. But better at the beach than at the hostel. After he's done, we go back to the hostel.

The hostel refuses to refund him. I think that's wrong.

Jose gets mad at the hostel. I was mad for him too.

* * *

We go to my favorite restaurant. Jose says he's not hungry. I order a seafood paella anyways.

It comes out in a black pan. It has all kinds of prawns and squid rings and mussels in it. It smells beautiful. I pour olive oil in it. I throw in the salt. I add tobasco for spice. I order a wine.

I drink my wine. We eat the paella. It's wonderful. Jose asks if we can order another one. I say of course.

* * *

After, we go back to the pool area in the hostel. Jose doesn't want to, because he hates the hostel. I go for my last swim. I get on top of a floating device in the pool. I sleep on it. The sunshine bakes my body. It feels hot on my skin. It's bright outside too.

I need a break. I bump into a beautiful Australian girl.

She chats me up. I see the purple hickey on her neck. I make a note in my head. We chat some more.

Jose is at the table. Two Spanish girls, who are staff, chat him up. He seems happy about it.

* * *

After, we go to the airport. His flight is delayed. Jose starts acting crazy again. I tell him to stop. He says, "I can't."

I tell him, "That's a lie."

"No, it's not."

It makes me wonder about the mental health of my generation and the next one. Anyways, he does manage to board.

My flight is late an hour late too. Ibiza Airport is a mess. It's crazy busy. It's full. The French airline staff are on strike. Everything is running behind schedule.

* * *

On the plane, I think about the story of the Good Samaritan. I definitely was not the Good Samaritan, but I think I did my part in reflecting Christian duty. It says in the Scripture, that the Samaritan (a hated ethnic group by the Jews) is full of pity when he sees a an injured man that's been beaten and robbed. The Samaritan decides to rescue the man. The injured man is most likely a Jew in this parable.

Earlier in the day, the injured Jew was intentionally ignored by a Rabbi and a descendant of the royal priesthood. Not only is this their fellow countrymen; he's ignored by the very people who probably preach on the Sabbath to be good to your fellow man. Then, on the weekday, they behave exactly the opposite of what they preach. Only the Samaritan takes pity on the injured Jew.

Good Samaritan by Vincent van Gogh.
The Samaritan cleans the victim's wounds with oil. Then, he puts the Jew, on his mule, which forces the Samaritan to walk. The Samaritan tells the innkeeper that he's paying for the food and lodging of the injured man and any other costs until the stranger recovers.

The last part of the story challenged me. Should I have bought the airplane ticket of this guy I didn't know? Maybe?

I did a lot but not everything I could. I justified that I didn't do more, because Jose was in a rush and just wanted his ticket bought. But if I calmed him down, I might have found a ticket with my miles. Would God expect me to get this guy his ticket with my own money? (Sadly, for me, I think so.) In the future, I'm sure there will be a chance for me to behave better.

All these questions are called and recalled in my head. For me, it revealed a lot about the nature of my God.

In the parable, for sure, the Samaritan reflects God's nature. This is because God would do this for any of us. And in the parable, God chooses to identify with the Samaritan rather than the Rabbi or the Levite, because it is the Samaritan who does the right thing. Likewise, God must expect that this is how we behave towards the stranger, who is truly our neighbor.

The irony of this frame story is that in the outer frame of the narrative, it's a lawyer who is trying to justify himself to Jesus on why he is a good person, when he obviously despised people not like him. In other words, the lawyer wants to find a way to excuse his behavior to Jesus.

Ever done this? I know for sure I have.

The lawyer asking the question probably also had issues with greed; not that lawyers today don't have that issue today. He only needs a legal justification to pretend all is well. Ever do this?

And the lawyer actually answers Jesus' question correctly. He says that he should love his God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength and his neighbor as himself. But Jesus clearly points out in telling the story that it's not enough to know the answer intellectually. One has to live out such principles.

You have to imagine there are other listeners in the audience. I wonder if the members of the audience felt guilty when they heard the story, because they knew in their hearts that they would be more like the Rabbi and the Levite and not want to spend the money or time on an injured stranger or someone needy.

Let's not forget, the Rabbi, Levite, and Samaritan all have somewhere to be. They are all traveling the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.

But it's only the Samaritan who decides he can be inconvenienced, his later business can wait, and he can make the time to take care of someone in need. To be sure, the Samaritan doesn't expect to ever get his money or time back.

Reflecting on the story really made me review my own character and soul.

On a deeper level, I wondered: Aren't we all the injured man on the journey in life? Haven't we all made bad decisions, which injure us and others? Aren't we all in need of rescue?

And if we know God would do this for us, isn't this how we're supposed to treat others?

Given the hostile attitude towards foreigners worldwide, what should our attitude towards aliens be?

* * *

I arrive into the South of France, half passed midnight, after the fiasco in the Ibiza airport. Because it's passed midnight, there's no more public transport. The only way to the city is a taxi, which would cost $100 - something I probably can't afford.

I hitchhike, and I'm not certain about my luck. It's hard to find a ride passed midnight. Nobody picks up hitchhikers at night.

But an elderly couple who flew with me on the plane took pity on me. They were also in Ibiza. Their son was probably in his early 20's. They pick me up and give me a ride into the city for free. That was kind of them.

After they drop me off, I hail a taxi. The taxi drops me off at my hostel. I arrive passed 2AM. I asked for water. The receptionist gives me icy water. It feels good to drink it.

That night I sleep very well.

What a day - a very busy day indeed.

I've finally arrived into the South of France.

*Note: This story is written from a holy place.

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