Saturday, August 23, 2008

Highlights from Nazareth

From the convent's guesthouse, we walked down narrow streets made of stone which were mostly stairs but also smooth, like ramps, because of the hill on which Nazareth is built. We followed the signs and ended up in the shuk as everything was closing, so just wandered around looking for an internet cafe and deciding on where to have dinner. Deciding on dinner was very important considering the less than appetizing fare we had been served at 'home' on the kibbutz. After asking directions four or five times, we finally found the internet cafe = connection-with-home heaven after only a week, at that point, of being here. Then, to Casa Palestina for dinner:

I admit it, not the greatest of shots, but the food was delicious and plentiful. Plentiful is a bit of an understatement: pita and hummus, eggplant and other yummy dips to start, and Joelle's meal was a whole chicken. Really, I can't remember what Sarah or I had (although I do remember them bringing Sarah the wrong thing), because everything was eclipsed by this whole chicken being put in front of tiny Joelle. I know she took pictures of it.

We walked back to the convent after dark, and the next morning were up bright and early to head back to the same area and very quickly got lost. The problem: on the map we had the wrong Greek Orthodox Church as our reference point. I kept asking myself, "who needs that many Greek Orthodox Churches in one area?" and remember that I come from a part of the world with a Tim Horton's every 30 meters. But, the morning was not a complete loss, since in one of these Greek Orthodox Churches we visited Mary's Well which was very cool and the church itself was lovely. This was the first place I encountered the practice of writing a note and putting it in a portion of a holy wall. (These photos are on the Minolta, so will be future postings.) We then went for monster falafel lunch, and when I was done eating I left Sarah and Joelle to go inside the restaurant and ask the man who had served us, who spoke great English, where exactly we were. He pointed me in the right direction and was really nice; so nice, in fact, that he gave us some free Turkish coffee and sabra fruit. (I'm not a fan of sabra, which is cactus fruit, because of the texture of the seeds, but the meat is delicious.)

With our new directions, we visited the White Mosque, where (heads, shoulders and arms covered with our shawls, and Joelle in a borrowed men's plaid shirt) we received a sermon about Islam from one of the men praying there. It was my fault: I had asked the man who let us in for some history on the mosque itself, like when it was built, by whom, etc. This other man happened to be close by and figured, as infidels, we needed a good talking to. He was very nice about it, and we were in his hood, but he didn't like that I didn't believe in Paradise. I wasn't going to lie, but I listened politely and played the parent when we had been there too long: "come along, girls."

Then to the Church of the Annunciation. I loved all the international artwork outside, and the openness of the architecture inside. We also went to the Synagogue Church where Jesus is said to have preached. In an alcove outside was a bust of Padre Pio. I took a photo of it for Nana, who prayed to him for the miracle of Dad's recovery after the accident. All of these buildings representative of the Religions of the Book are woven into the fabric of the shuk, or situated very close to it. At one little shop I purchased two pashminas which are lighter than the ones I already have, therefore more appropriate for the (understatement alert:) warm weather. We then took a cab, complete with argument in Hebrew between Joelle and the cabbie about the price, to Nazareth village. This a reconstruction, complete with folk in period costume, of Nazareth at the time of Jesus. We were late; it had just closed, so I'll go back another time. But we did meet an Israeli tour guide with his Japanese tourists who had been at Hazor a few days before. They honked at us in their car as we trudged up the hill back to the convent.

We took a cab to Tiberias since it was Shabbat and there were no buses. Put our feet in the Galilee/Kinneret, and I collected some rocks. I've decided to study geology after I turn 60. I like rocks.

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