Monday, January 3, 2011

Marmelade, the Dead Sea, and Masada

The day started with Doug making marmalade with kumquats and lemons from his yard. He asked me about his "ornamental orange" which turns out to be kumquats and with the number he has, marmalade was in order.

We then headed off toward the Dead Sea to have a look at Masada. We stopped at one viewing spot where the smell of sulfur was very strong. Saw a yellow trail going into the sea, just like some hot springs in California. In fact the whole area reminded me of the Salton Sea area, only with really high hills on both sides of the sea. The sky wasn't completely clear, so seeing the hills on the Jordan side was problematic.

Lunch at the cafeteria in Masada, then up the cable car to the top. It's hard to believe that Herod built a palace here. What amazing views! I will add to this a bit later.

Unlike many of the tourists, especially youth groups, we took the cable car back down. Stopped at En Gedi to see people swimming in the Dead Sea, then back to Jerusalem for a Gin and Tonic and cheese.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday at St. George's Cathedral

Doug and I went to the 11am Eucharist. Good message. It was about walls and the city of Bethlehem. The Palestinians there, both Chrstian and Muslim, are walled in by a thirty foot high wall. It is almost impossible for them to get out to visit relatives, to get medical care or to tend lands that are outside the city. The message was the difference between our ability to go in and kiss the star in the Church of the Nativity, in essence to "see" Christ, and our inability to see Christ in all of God's people.

We talked a bit about this over a beer. Doug works for UNICEF and he says Palestinians, who are behind the walls have little access to medical care, since it is primarily in Jerusalem and the Israeli authorities won't give permission for people to leave. Nitrates in drinking water is a big problem for the little ones. There are inadequate amounts, and pollution control is negligible. Many of the children under two are "blue babies". The US Center for Disease Control is getting involved, but it is hard to get them into the West Bank or Gaza because of security issues, so much of the work needs to be done remotely. Can you imagine your doctor not being able to see your child. In addition, schools are not being built because they can't get building materials in, so kids are not being educated.

Addendum: Since I cannot directly add photos to my web page via the blog, you'll have to go to Facebook to see any pictures. If that changes, you'll see it here.

After church, we walked through many bazaars, bought some Zatar (a spice I just live on bread), and then went into West Jerusalem, with it's fancy shops for a sandwich. Quite a contrast. We passed David's tower and two gates to the old city, did a quick run through the Holy Sepulcher (crowded,but I'll go back during the course), then stopped for the beer before heading back.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

First Day in Jerusalem

It is fascinating that on one side of the highway the homes have black tanks on the roofs to hold water in case the supply is shut off. The other side doesn't have to worry about whether they will have water. And this is in the city of Jerusalem.

Robert Frost said something like "something there is that doesn't like a wall." well I was completely offended by a walled-in Jewish settlement we accidentally came upon while trying to drive up to the Mount of Olives. The settlement walls at one spot seemed far higher than those across the way for the old city walls across the valley and are of ugly concrete.

The views at the top are lovely. Some peaceful gardens of olives going down the hillside, the gilded-domed Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, the old walls with Lion's Gate, the Dome of the Rock, and little boys trying to sell olive branches and a man with his camel selling rides (or getting money to take a picture). Tour busses would have gone a totally different way so tourists would not likely have seen what we did.

I left my camera behind, but I'm sure we will return during the Palestine of Jesus class which starts Wednesday at St George's College. I'm curious what we will learn about the settlements, though, if anything.

My friend, and host for the next couple of days, Doug, cooked us a wonderful slow cooked roast beef dinner. That and a glass of wine knocked me out. Of course I had been up for over 24 hours with some sleep on the plane.