Yesterday we visited the Holy Land. -Quite fitting at Christmas, and a definite bonus, since we were originally scheduled to go to Cairo! Jerusalem is an amazing city. The off-white historical buildings glow with a golden light, and Iain and I both fell in love with it. He even commented last night that he might like to go back there one day, to live.
It certainly is a city of 'living history'. The tiny streets with their heavy stone slabs in the market place are the ones Jesus walked through when he dragged his cross up the hill. The 12 stations of the cross are market on the marketplace walls, as you walk through. The chapels and religious iconography everywhere mark the details of the life of Christ at every turn. Iain said he still didn't believe in Jesus, but he certainly looked intrigued when we entered the tomb where Jesus' body is believed to have been laid to rest (and risen from the dead shortly after).
We visited the Wailing Wall last, which was strangely commercial and full of crowds of public on-lookers and people praying. I had expected it to be silent, or filled with the whisper of prayers, but instead it was a busy town square with visiting Israeli army troops, crowds of laughing children and tourists taking photos.
Jerusalem is certainly impressive, with it's relics and temples at every corner, and it's a strange place poised in preparedness for the 2nd coming of Christ. Even the dead beneath their tombstones are all lined up waiting to be the first to enter the holy city by the golden gate, as the Bible tells will happen.
For me though, the city felt almost too perfect. 2000+ year old buildings, and they were all so clean and well-maintained, with almost no signs of destruction or damage. It was hard to feel a sense of the history of the place. The tourism (certainly not helped by the fact that we were on a 'cattle-herded' excursion, rather than free to discover the place on our own) made it feel more like a museum than a city. Perhaps that's what Jerusalem is though, a living museum of major world religions? And perhaps that's why no one wants to give up their ownership of the place.
For some reason, last night's blog with photos didn't load properly!.. Well, more has happened since then. After a pizza buying experience, where I had to ask which language they preferred before I could begin to order, ("Spanish! Yes, Jose in the back room can speak that, bring him out!") We ate a pizza picnic in our rooms, and then headed out for a walk to see some of the city. It was dark, so I didn't take the camera.. it's a bit too flashy for the back streets of Genova!
We went into a little store to buy our first bracelets.. -we buy bracelets every stop we go when we travel- easy souvenirs to carry!-.. and it happened to be an arabic shop.. Someone else walked in behind us, and the guy at the counter said "Ah a lan wa sa ha lan" and the other man started to reply.. and suddenly the words jumped out of my mouth in reply: 'Al ham du lula, Kaifal hal? Al ham du lula"..
-Which is actually the only paragraph I've learned from my arabic tapes I've been listening to for a few weeks, to prepare for Egypt. .. (It's basically a 'hello, how are you', kind of conversation) It was hilarious to see all their faces go absolutely BLANK white!.. I smiled, and explained in Spanish that I've been studying Arabic for Egypt and it was my first time using it. They laughed then, all 5 guys standing at the cash, but then they stopped talking altogether, in case I knew more than that, and could understand everything they had said about us a few minutes earlier, while we were shopping!.. Of course that's the only phrase I know, so I paid for the bracelets, said "Shukran" and we left.. Iain was embarrassed, but I was laughing all the way home about the fact that I came to Italy and got to use my Arabic phrases on the first night!
Hilary Slater: I write in the morning before I get out of bed. I write in the evening when the world is quiet. I write at Starbucks, where I can escape the household interruptions. But most of all I write in November, when NaNoWriMo inspires me!