I left the bus stop and walked back into Rosh Pinna. There I found the central bus station. I located an encouraging sign and asked several loiterers for confirmation. When I got the positive nod I sat down on the edge of a concrete wall and waited for the Tiberias bus.
A hour and a half later we rolled into Tiberias. Lee from EO's hospitality team picked me up. I was relieved. It had been a long day and I hadn’t eaten anything. He took me to the hotel and listened to my crazy story.
Once in my room I took off my stained pants and threw them away. I got in the shower and rinsed my wounds. One part of me thought that if the dog had rabies, it was too late to do anything. The other part of me felt compelled to wash some more. So I scrubbed and squeezed my punctures until they bled. More irrigation couldn't hurt. A bruise was already growing across my thigh like a blooming iris.
Later that afternoon our study group returned. There were lots of hugs and a few tears. Despite the morning setback at Tel Dan, Jody O. had finished the daily program. That was good.
Privately, a few of the students expressed guilt for not being more helpful in the crisis. The Reshut man had pressed them back during my fight with the dog, not wanting anyone else to be hurt. I thanked them and assured them that everyone had followed the best course of action. Needless to say, the woulda-coulda-shoulda truck was rolling.
So was the social media machine. Word had bounced from Israel to the States and back again that I had wrestled a mad dog, a mad dog with pups, and in one case, a mad jackal. I found the last rumor to be particularly pleasing. And this was not just because I had written a lovely article on "Jackals" for the Eerdmans Bible Dictionary people and had a certain affinity for these wretched beasts (the animals, not the Eerdmans people). No, I thought, further evolution was possible. With time the mad jackal could become a mad mountain lion, or--if I was really lucky--a whole pack of mad mountain lions. Imagine that! This incident could morph into a legacy-act of Davy Crockett proportions. Of course, in order to bask in it fully, I had to survive a ghastly and foaming death.
"Raised in the woods so he knew ev'ry tree
kilt him a be 'are when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!"
I called the States and spoke with Vicki on the phone. She arrested my delusions and gave me some new ones. "Whatever you do, don't google what happens when humans die from rabies," she ordered. I assured her that I wouldn't go there. It is far better to wander ignorantly into dark places like that.
The following day we continued the study-tour. We drove south from Tiberias to Jericho, Qumran, and the Dead Sea. Other than a limp, all went well.
From time to time I imagined I was being gripped by a fever. It was a ridiculous thought though.
This is the Jordan Valley. Everything is feverish here.
We rolled on toward Arad and to a campground at Kfar HaNokdim. We were scheduled to sleep on the ground like bedouin in order to give students a Real Feel for the Desert. I knew from previous visits that it was necessary to phone ahead from Arad to let the boys know to get the camels ready. Outside of Arad, phone service in this remote area was difficult.
Which made the incoming call that afternoon all the more surprising. I pulled the ringing cell from my pocket and answered. The voice on the other end identified himself as a medical doctor with the public health service in Galilee. In a gravely tone with a heavy Israeli accent he delivered the news.
"Mark, listen to me carefully. You do not have to take a chopper, but you need to get to a hospital as fast as you can. That dog that bit you tested positive for rabies."