Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Friday – we took off early for Jerusalem. We are Guy, me, four Israelis, and four Kiwis. Our guide was a Kiwi who has lived in Israel for something like eight years. He knew a lot about Israel. He took us on a walk to see the major sites of Christian and Jewish interest. We saw a lot. It seemed as though the historical places were stacked on top of each other. On that day, Good Friday, I visited or saw the Mercy Gate, Gethsemane, the burial place of Mary, the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Condemnation, some of the stations on the Way of the Cross, the Holy Church of the Sepulcher, in which I saw where Jesus was crucified, wrapped in cloths, and placed in his tomb from where he ascended to Heaven. I also saw the West Wall, the Tower of David, and some of the Armenian Quarter. There are quarters in the Old City for the Armenians, Christians, Jews, and Muslims. We saw the Dome of the Rock from where, it is said, Mohammed ascended to Heaven with the Angel Gabriel. We didn’t go inside.
What I remember about the Muslim Quarter is a plethora of shops. I almost bought a shirt with an F-16 on it. Above and below the jet were printed the words: Don’t worry America, Israel is behind you. I thought this was particularly sad, but funny as well.
I stayed up later that night than Guy because he didn’t get home the night before until 4:30 am. For only getting three hours of sleep the night before he did really well.
Saturday – we didn’t leave as early as yesterday, but we did just as much. We drove through Jerusalem, past Ramallah, to Jericho and the Dead Sea. We went to Masada first. It was hot and very clear. I hiked up, but most of the group took the tram. The hike was a workout and I could feel my lack of cardiovascular strength. My performance during the hike was exceptionally sad given that I started the climb at -412m altitude, the lowest point in the world. The top was awesome. We took a lot of pictures. I will never forget the view of the desert plateau sweeping down to the Dead Sea and seeing Jordan on the horizon. I hiked down as well. We went to the sea and I rubbed mineral mud on my skin and went into the water. The mud and the water made my skin so smooth. You can float in nearly any position. I didn’t get a picture of me floating, but I have a great one of Guy and me with mud on each other right before we went in.
We had a big meal at the house of some women from the States, but they had been living in Jericho for a number of years now. They had even learned Hebrew. I was freaking impressed. Other than that, it was a weird feeling being there at the house. I was trying to figure out what they were doing in Jericho the whole time I was there. They are really a couple of hippies. It took two hours to get home last night.
This morning Guy went to work. I slept in. Guy’s mom cooked for me. We talked some. I checked email and wrote some. Guy dropped me off here a couple hours ago. I got groped, felt up, and searched multiple times by El Al again. I board my flight in 40 minutes to start my long, cramped and arduous journey back to Colorado. Let the travel begin.
*Given the length of this entry I will have to write any reactions to it in another blog.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Tonight is the Seder meal and I will meet Guy’s grandparents.
I could have left here on the 13th, well, even as I write that I realize that is tomorrow and it would be too soon. I will miss being with my family on Easter, heck, I just miss them. I wouldn’t have liked doing what Guy did (he studied abroad for all of his undergraduate years). That must have been so tough. I only know what 3.5 months is like, just over a quarter of a year, and that is enough.
Kate is so close I can almost, or can, picture driving up the street and hiking up those steps. I will be bounding actually. I want to be there now. I feel like my heart has already gone home and it’s just waiting for my body.
It is lame how much I wrote “I miss home”, or something of the sort, in my journal. If I read the previous day’s entry before writing I probably wouldn’t have mentioned how much I missed people from home in every entry. Alas, I did not and that is why there is so much lame, sappy missing going on.
One more thing, I could have done what Guy did. You know, study abroad for all those years. If I went abroad for my studies as a freshman I wouldn't have anything to make me reluctant of doing so. Now I am engaged, things are a little different, so I wouldn't leave the US unless Kate could come with. I promise you if she could, we would be gone for a while.
Monday, January 29, 2007
"And you wonder WHY we're hated there? Note: the horn was fake and added later. Nobody looked up or at the humvee. Not the guy picking his nose, not anyone else including the child, nobody in the cars..."
First, I don't wonder why we're hated there. I know some like us, but whether this video is a fake or not, it doesn't take much to realize why we are hated in Iraq by some.
Second, I suppose this video could be fake, but to make a point, I never once thought to myself while watching it, or pondering it later on, there is no way that happens over in Iraq. We are corrupted by war and conflict. When we find ourselves in the turmoil of our age we do things, mean things, that we never thought we would do. War doesn't make people courteous. If it did, every country would have their own overseas occupation going on.
A video on YouTube is not proof that something happened. In this case, I am guilty of believing it is, but I don't feel guilty for believing what I saw on that video is entirely possible given the circumstances of our presence and prolonged occupation of Iraq.
I first watched this almost unbelievable footage from a Humvee driving through the streets of Baghdad on Andrew Sullivan's blog today. He presumes the crazy driving is necessary to avoid ambushes and attacks. I think that has to be accurate. If it is necessary to drive like that because we are so vulnerable over there than we definitely aren't making any friends on the road.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
We went to a wedding party last night. It was fun, but awkward and a bit long at the end of the night. The groom, an Israeli, met the Belgian bride while they were both on vacation in Thailand. They were married in Cyprus because she is not a Jew. Guy told me that only Jews can get married in Israel. The bride and groom have the same birthday and they will now celebrate their anniversary on the same date.
Guy is at work again, but he will be home shortly. I emailed Kate, the parents and Aaron this morning. I perused The Guardian online and took a quick look at US news sites to get the top stories from over there.
As much fun as I am having over here I am still wildly anticipating my trip home. I will have to be patient once my long journey starts this Sunday.
There aren’t too many more awkward situations than attending a wedding where you only know one guest. I did a lot of standing around, tried to explain to people who the hell I was and why I am such good friends with an Israeli who I met swimming at the University of Wyoming. People stared blankly at me with intermittent, confused blinks. I would give another unsuccessful explanation.
“So you live in London?” “Where is Wyoming?” “Why were you swimming?” “How do you know the bride?” “How do you know the groom?”
More awkward explanation. More blank stares. Quickly trying to get out of the situation I would look over their stares and pretend like I saw a friend off in the distance. I would smile, wave and politely excuse myself so that I may go to…I don’t know…John, and catch up with him. I would slip in a, “but it was nice to talk with you” before I ran away.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Alright, we drove to Nazareth. We found a good parking spot and walked up to the Church of the Annunciation. We ran into a Palm Sunday parade and many Arab Christians which was something great to see. We walked around the church and took some pictures. On a tip Guy received we went to a restaurant for great hummus and kebab. We also had 15 plates of salads with good pita bread and falafel. We had to leave Nazareth after the meal to make it to the Baha'i Gardens in time for our tour. It took a long time to find the right entrance but it was worth it. The gardens were so beautiful. What a view of the Mediterranean too. The gardens are symmetrical in design. I took a lot of pictures. The drive back to Tel Aviv was also pretty, down the coast we went as the sun set on the Med.
Guy took me to his gym last night. We shot some hoops and lifted before we got in a hot tub. Guy had to work some today, but that is fine. I have had some time to read emails this morning. I don’t know what we will do this afternoon. We might go to the beach again. I have loved my time here, but I get more excited to go home as everyday passes. I can’t believe I am going home to Colorado. In one week I will be at Heathrow waiting to take off to Chicago and then to sweet, delicious Colorado.
A horrible stereotype exists in parts of the West. There are some ignorant Westerners that assume an Arab must be a terrorist of some sort, or at least that they are not tolerant of Christianity in any way, shape, or form. I have never believed this to be true, but when I saw a Palm Sunday parade with no Westerner or white in it I choked up and wished that every Westerner that ever had the previously described stereotype could have seen what I did that day. In the heart of the Middle East, in a land of turmoil, in Nazareth on Palm Sunday and amid a flood of believers I felt God, and the beauty of our worship, and saw Jesus making all things new.
Friday, January 26, 2007
We are going north tomorrow and are just watching a movie tonight, an illegal copy of Crash on DVD. I miss Kate and the family a lot right now. You always miss the things you love the most when you get closer to seeing them. At least this is true for me.
I forgot how short most of these Israel entries are. I didn’t have much time to write during this trip. We were always gone, going somewhere, eating or sleeping, but I had to write down the day's events. I rightly judged then, that if I read these few lines in the future, that the words would be enough to bring back the moment.
Crash was enjoyable. I understand why it won an Oscar. I don’t understand why everyone was so surprised.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
I love how I started this entry…fourteen sentences, ten of them incomplete. Though there are just three words, sometimes one, in between periods they ignite memories of a trip that I will not soon forget. I know what we ate. I know where I slept. I can walk the same route we took the dog on. I only thought there would be very little interest in reading my London entries, but that isn’t why they are up here. This blog has become a journey for me, a record of my life and a source of good writing exercise. I knew when starting this blog that people would choose to diligently read it, or they would not. The ones that read this now are the people that have been reading this from the beginning. I thank you for reading. I know at times none of this will be interesting to you and only meaningful to the author, but regardless of whether you like it or not, I hope that something on this blog makes you feel like you are on a journey, or that it has helped you start your own.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
I should find more time to blog starting tomorrow because my hours are slightly less at Starbucks. In the meantime, please direct yourself to Mr. Boeke's new blogs on his trip through Mexico, Just Coffee and great music of 2006.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Descending into the cavernous Canary Wharf station. This was the first tube station designed with the 2012 London Olympics in mind. There is such a thing as a beautiful tube station.Green Park in late March.
After nearly three months here I know this quote from Johnson is true for me. I have four days left here before I fly to Israel. It has been a fast 11.5 weeks thus far. I don’t expect the last two to go any slower.
The whole purpose of this entry was to get that Samuel Johnson quote in the journal before it slipped my mind.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Matteo Imbruno, the organist for today’s recital, is playing the "Ballo del Granduca" by Sweelinck right now. It sounds like wedding music at times, but then it dips into different sounds that wouldn’t bode well for a wedding.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
He also paints and has put up some paintings in the Starbucks on South Hover. Stop by and check them out.
Monday, January 15, 2007
1. Pink Panther
2. V for Vendetta
3. The Hills Have Eyes
4. Chicken Little
6. Date Movie
7. Walk the Line
8. Lucky Number Slevin
9. Big Momma’s House 2
And the top ten singles are:
1. No Tomorrow – Orson
2. It’s Chico Time – Chics…or something like that
3. Pump It – Black Eyed Peas
4. Beep – Pussycat Dolls
5. Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae
6. Whole Lotta History – Girls Aloud
7. Red Dress – Sugababes
8. Touch the Sky – Kanye West
9. Sorry – Madonna
10. Thunder in My Heart Again – Meck ft. Leo Sayer
I might add that I have only seen one film on the movie list, Syriana. It was good. As far as the songs go, I know the sound of two of them by name even though I know all of them have been played on the radio while within earshot. I would like to get some of them even though they may not be amazing songs, they might bring back a little of London for some time to come.
As you can see Brits like some crappy movies and music too. The Hills Have Eyes? Big Momma’s House 2? Freaking BEEP? Yes, they have taste, but sometimes their distaste, just like the distaste of Americans, is how they are known. I did give a listen to every one of those songs when I got home. I ended up not getting one of them. They are all not in my taste. Some songs like Madonna’s “Sorry” bring me instantly back to say, a McDonalds, any McDonalds in London was playing that song five times a day. The music listed above doesn’t bring back the London I love at all. It brings back the fabrication, the Americanization of a wonderfully British city, and that is something I won’t mind revisiting.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Paris is romanticized so much in prose, poetry, movies, and all forms of fiction that it could not possibly live up to the hype. It didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Paris, but it is still a massive city with loads of traffic and trash. What I saw of Paris before I went wasn’t what I saw of Paris while I was there. That’s all.