Monday, September 29, 2008

Back to Jerusalem

This morning was an early morning: we got up at the break of dawn, packing our clothes and stuffing our rented car (a small Hyundai that they don't make in the States), ready to head back to Jerusalem (JLM). After a good breakfast, we headed west toward Mt. Tabor. Mt. Tabor is the place of Transfiguration. It is also high above the plain that plays a major role in Armageddon. The Chapel was designed by Barluzzi, who also designed the Chapels in Bethlehem and the Mt. of the Beatitudes, though this was one of the prettiest out of all the other chapels we've seen. There is a huge mosaic of Jesus, Elijah, and Moses in the Chapel, which sets on a site in which countless of other churches (now in ruins) used to sit.

The ride back home (3 hours) was, well, um, er, gee: fast! I rode behind an Israeli driver, and though this country has very few interstate highways, we passed each other with a certain aggression that made the other riders, well, um, close their eyes. But we made it back to JLM in time to unpack our things, fill the car with gas, and get to the Avis rental center with 5 minutes to spare (they close at 1 today because it is Rosh Hashanah). What a trip!

After dropping off the car, we strolled through the King David hotel, walked through the Old City to Papa Andreas, in which we had a grand tour of the Old City atop of the world. Fantastic view. We took Matt down to the Western Wall (he hadn't been there yet), and we watched as more and more men and their sons came to the Wall to pray, dressed in velvet coats, ermine hats, polished shoes...in other words, their best clothes possible because it is Rosh Hashanah: Jewish New Year. For two days, parts of the city will be closed because of this religious holiday. And by closed, I mean closed tight. It is rare, but this year Muslim Ramadan ALSO draws to a close, and there is more partying. I've learned more about Muslim holidays than I've ever known before during this trip.

After lunch and the Wall visit, we treated ourselves to baklava, and by 5:00 made it to our room at St. Georges.

Off to see if Ramadan ends tonight (the moon must show in order to draw this period of fasting and prayer to a close).

Shalom and Salaam,

Buen Camino,

Brett