Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kate on the Loose, Part 7: To Jerusalem

My good friends, Kate and Pam, are in Jerusalem and Jordan, soon coming to Georgia. Kate started as a solo adventuress in Egypt. Now she is meeting up with Pam. Received on April 6:

Well it's been several days since my last installment.  I want to assure you I have not been sitting around doing nothing.  Once Pam arrived on March 27, the pace picked up and time to journal has been limited.

Before I tell you about Jerusalem let me tell you about leaving Dahab and crossing into Israel at Eilat. Jimmy, my host at Bishbishi, arranged for me to join a group of people going from Sharm al Shiek to Jerusalem for a one day tour.  Jimmy instructed me to go on the tour and when it ended to slip away.  I said you mean leave without telling them-oh yes it's done all the time.  More to come about that.  So I bought the water and fruit as instructed and the van picked me up at 10pm.  Saby walked me to the van and when I tried to tell him goodbye, he said oh no I will go with you until you get on the bus.  So bless his heart he went with me for ten miles and waited twenty minutes until the bus came.  As I got on he said something about Russians.

The whole bus was Russian speaking except for me and four young girls who are in medical school in Sienna, Italy.  Off we went, it took about an hour to get to the border and three hours to get through security.  We also switched buses as they can't cross the border.

We traveled through the night and at morning's light we arrived at the Dead Sea.  We got out and many people took off their clothes (bathing suits underneath) and walked into the sea.  The mineral content is so high it buoys you and sinking is impossible.  People get their picture taken sitting in the water reading a newspaper.  They then put clothes on over their suits and got back on the bus.  Not pleasant for the rest of us.

Two more hours through the Negev desert and we arrive in beautiful Jerusalem.  Upon arrival one of the Russian men put on a black cassock and hat and it turns out he's a Russian Orthodox priest and several of his parishioners are with him.  Our first stop is the Church of the Sepulcher, Christ's tomb, this part of the church is supervised by the Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox.  The tour guide would speak Russian for 15 minutes and then give us nonRussian speakers a three sentence explanation.  Needless to say we got the abbreviated version.

Several of the women had very emotional experiences and had to be assisted.  We also visited Golgatha and the stone Jesus was laid on in the tomb.  Many people laid crosses and other icons on the stone to bless them.  We also drove to Bethlehem( about 20 minutes away) to see the birthplace of Jesus commemorated by a beautiful church.  The tour was over and I told the guide I would be leaving the tour in Jerusalem.  She told me it was against the law as I said at the border I would only be in Israel one day and besides the bus would not be going back to Jerusalem.

At that I asked a tourist police if I could get a bus to Jerusalem, he said I could but I needed some Jordian dinars to pay for the bus.  He walked me to an ATM.  The guide later told me the tour bus would be returning to Jerusalem and I could get off with her.

Of course she didn't know where my hotel was located, so I'm walking around the wholesale food district I have stumbled into, sides of beef and lamb hanging everywhere, trying to find a taxi driver to take me to the Lutheran Guesthouse which no one has heard of and I have no sheckles.  The taxi driver found an ATM and the Guesthouse.  Hallaluya!!!  By this time it's dark( 6pm), cold and damp and after the taxi driver drops me off I still have to drag my suitcase about two blocks through winding cobblestone alleys.  But I made it only five minutes after Pam arrived.

So that's enough adventure for now.


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