Hannah and Je together

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Ninth Day – Back to Beit Sahour

After I had breakfast at the hostel (I saw huge Korean teen group from a church), I asked the reception about the bus schedule to Jerusalem.  The lady told me 7am, 10am, 2pm, and the last one is 5pm.  I decided to go to the central bus station earlier so I got there 8:50am.  I thought I need to wait about an hour.  But when I purchased the ticket, the clerk said “The bus is now leaving.”  The bus to Jerusalem was at 9am.  If I had been ten minutes later, I would have waited a couple of hours.

My seat was 13, but before the bus departed, two soldiers got on, and asked me a favour.  A girl and boy soldiers were a couple, and their seat were 14 and 20.  They wanted to sit together.  So I moved to seat 20.  And I found that soldiers get free ride.  It takes about five hours from Eilat to Jerusalem, and throughout all five hours, the soldier couple were licking each other.

At the beginning, I sat alone having two seats which was very comfortable.  But before I got to the Dead Sea, a girl in early 20s got on the bus and sat next to me.  Then she farted, and the smell was so gross – the worst fart smell I’ve ever experienced.  I looked at her face, but she closed her eyes and pretended sleeping.

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Now the travelling is easy because I already know how.  From the Jerusalem central bus station to Damascus gate by light railway.  And then to Bethlehem by Arab bus 21.  And this time, I walked home, about an hour.

Shps close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

The market behind the Nativity Church was open and there were people, but fewer people than usual.  And quite many of the shops were closed also.  But out of that area, almost all shops were closed and nobody on the streets.

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Because it is Sunday, and there are huge Christian population in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour.  Jews rest on Saturday, Christians on Sunday.  It is said that Muslims on Friday, but most of them still work.  Unlike other places, there are huge Christian population here and also Ramallah, even though the majority is Muslim now.  Bethlehem and Beit Sahour is neighbour cities and quite small.  I walk between the two cities and it takes not even an hour.  But still the two cities have many differences.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Seventh Day – To Eilat and People of Megiddo

I’ve got my hosting family arranged through the Siraj centre, and I also applied for some activities.  And the centre emailed me that the activities were cancelled due to lack of people, and also to come to the centre on Friday to get the refund.  I went to the Siraj centre because today is the Friday.  They sent the email a week ago, and when I went to the centre, they said that the money is not ready.

So I just wasted an hour.  From the centre, I took a taxi to the bus stop in Bethlehem.  The bus goes to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.  There I took the light railway to the central bus station.

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

When I went to the ticket office in the central bus station, a guy approached to me asking where I am going.

He: Hey my friend, where are you going?
Je: To Eilat.
He: All the tickets to Eilat are sold out.
Je: What? The whole day ticket?
He: Yes.  How about private transportation?
Je: How much?
He: 200.
Je: In Shekel or Dollar?  Wait, let me ask the ticket office first.

When a stranger call you a friend, that means you need to watch out and be careful.  I asked the ticket office, and it was true that the ticket was sold out, but there were lots of seats left for the following bus at 2pm.  I was more than OK to wait 2 hours rather than paying stupid amount of money.

So I went to Eilat again and stayed at the same Hostel.

I did not have a chance to write about my excavation team at Megiddo.  The Lachish excavation did not have much people because most volunteers left Israel right after the war began due to the proximity of the location to Gaza.  And finally the site was shut down.  Actually most sites in southern Israel were closed.  And more than half of them left Israel, but some people like me joined the northern sites such as Megiddo.  The UCLA students were digging at Jaffa, but they also joined Megiddo.

My team, digging the same square were mostly from UCLA.  There was a girl named Sarah, Iranian American, and 18 years old.  She is the youngest in the whole Megiddo excavation people.  She will study in George Washington University for Archaeology, and she began her expedition since 10 years old.

Another girl who I would not reveal her name was quite lazy, but extremely talkative.  Other team members told me that she works only two days a week, and that was true.  She actually worked two days a week, and she reported herself sick for the other days while she looked healthier than any other people.  She told me that recently she came out as LGBT, but is not seeing anyone yet.

Two girls from UCLA, named Vanessa and Jennah told me that they are a team and their name is Va-Jennah whose pronunciation is very similar to the lady’s sexual organ.  So I asked them if that implies that, and they said yes.  They are the very best workers at my team.

Canadians mostly left Israel or cancelled their trip to Israel, but quite many American students remained.  I guess Americans are more brave or they are used to the gun violence.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifteenth Day – Back to Jerusalem

In the morning, we got on the mini-bus from the Kedma Village to Jerusalem.  I got off at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

People were talking about the cloud, which is very weird to have the sky covered with clouds in this dry season.  I had a brunch with Dr. Choi at Aroma.

Gloria Hotel's View

Gloria Hotel’s View

Finally I came back to Gloria Hotel in the Old City Jerusalem near Jaffa Gate.  This is the view from my new room 151.  I stayed at 178 last week.  Then I turned on the TV set to update myself with the news of Israel-Gaza conflict because I spent a week without TV and with very limited internet.  But the more terrible and shocking news welcomed me – the airplane crash in Ukraine.  They did not really say almost anything about Israel-Gaza war.

After taking some rest, I went to the Tour Information to ask about the transportation to Tel Aviv tomorrow which is Shabbat.  But the information booth was closed at 1:30 because Shabbat begins this evening.

Empty Western Wall

Empty Western Wall

I wanted to the church of ascension, and went by the Western Wall.  While I was approaching the Western Wall, there were series of gun shooting sounds, and almost every was backed up.  And there were so many police cars and vans there.  You can notice that almost no body was at the wall praying, in comparison how it is packed with people especially Friday.  I asked someone what was happening, and was told that the muslims in the mosque are praying with shooting the guns with blank bullets.  But I’ve been in Western Wall a few Fridays, and heard nothing so far.  The orthodox Jew told me that they do not usually but when there is high tension, they do.

While the war is going on, and there are gun shooting noises, I found an airship in the sky.  And the city was as usual.

Pater Noster

Pater Noster

Before I went to the church of ascension, I went to the Pater Noster where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer.  There are Lord’s Prayer in a few different languages.  This one looks like Hebrew, but it is Chaldean.  There was small admission fee of 8 NIS.

Church of Ascension

Church of Ascension

Then I went to the church of ascension, and was very disappointed.  Not like the title on the map, it was not a church but a mosque, very small mosque.  You have to pay 5 NIS, but almost nothing to see.  It is said that the foot print of Jesus when he ascended into heaven.

Tomb of the Prophets

Tomb of the Prophets

Then I went to the Tomb of the prophets, but was not able to enter because it was locked.  According to the Jewish tradition, it is the tomb of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Church of Mary Magdalene from Dominus Flevit

Church of Mary Magdalene from Dominus Flevit

Then I went to the Dominus Flevit.  It is Latin means “The Lord wept.”  And they found Second Temple Period and Byzantine tombs.  The above picture is the church of Mary Magdalene viewed from the Dominus Flevit.

When I came out of the Dominus Flevit, I saw a Palestinian old man begging.  He said, “I am poor.  Give me some shekels.”  So I gave him 14 NIS which was all the money I had then.  Then he said, “Give me more, give me more!”  And I told him that I do not have more.  Then he angrily said, “20 dollar more! I am poor! 20 dollar!”  I lost my words, and just walked down the hill.

Focaccia Salad

Focaccia Salad

I got some more rest, and went to Kikkar Zion (Zion Plaza) on Jaffa Street and Ben Yehudah Street to meet some people dug together at Tel Lachish.  I was worried because the Shabbat already begun and I see the whole city is stopped without any visible restaurants open.  They brought me to Focaccia Bar in the back street, and wow! The whole city is like divided into two, either synagogue or here.  We met Professor Yossi there too!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Tenth Day – First digging

Today is the first day of excavation.  I checked out the Gloria hotel, and I found their dinner was 60 NIS, which I think is too high in comparison to the quality.  For the breakfast and dinner, I think the White Sisters’ Guesthouse was better.

Light Rail in Jerusalem

Light Rail in Jerusalem

I walked to the city hall Light Rail station, and purchased a ticket.  Soon the Light Rail train came.  This was my first time to be in the Light rail.  The central bus station is five stations away.  I was a bit early so I waited about an hour for the bus.  I actually expected the bus to come about twenty to thirty minutes late because the tour bus always came that much late.  But actually the bus came about twenty minutes earlier than the appointed time of 10 am.  Originally only two people got in the bus including me.  And the mini bus driver wanted to drive even ten minutes before ten.  I said no and asked him to wait ten past ten.  Well, I was right.  Bunch of people came at 10:05 and filled the mini bus.

Kedma Yough Village

Kedma Youth Village

We came to Kedma Youth Village where we will stay for the weekdays.  Kedma in Hebrew means eastward, and this is not just a youth village, but actually kind of boarding school for the kids who are challenged mentally so that they cannot stay in the classroom setting.  They stay here and learn some practical skills.  So, this is some kind of vocational school.  They are in vacation, so we can use this facility, and this is their first time to rent the facility to outside organisation.

Then I heard something bad.  Because of the Gazan’s rocket attack, and this area is not too far from gaza, the Hebrew University decided to shut down this site for the safety reason.  As you know, the Iron Dome first calculates where the missile or rocket would fall, and if it goes to open field where they would not be people, they just let it fall.  The thing is that the archaeological excavation site is considered as an open field, because there is no one usually.  So the many people in the excavation team already left Tel Lachish, and many groups supposed to join this week cancelled including huge Canadian team.  So this is the last week before the closing.  I was scheduled to work for three weeks, and they close this week which means the other two weeks are up in the air.  So I asked Professor Yossi, and he may put me in the Hazor excavation team for the two weeks.

Stone brick upon Mud brick

Stone brick upon Mud brick

They have many squares of digging.  They expected to see the early iron age, but most of them revealed the late bronze age first which is unexpected.  In the higher digging place, they found the Iron age.  The picture above shows the stone wall on top and the mud brick wall on the bottom.

Rocket trace

Rocket trace

We had a coffee break (we had water melon, coffee, and melon) around 3 or 4.  And we called it a day at 8 pm.  It was a very tiring day.  I was in the Professor Yossi’s car on the way back to the Kedma.  And in the middle of the way, we saw four or five lights flying which are rockets from Gaza.  And there was a loud siren.  All the cars on the road including ours stopped immediately, and everybody got off the car, and ran a bit, and lied down.  Then I saw the rockets were intercepted.  I also took the picture right after they were intercepted, this shows three spots, but there were two more in the upper side of the picture.

Dirty Kedma

Dirty Kedma

I was actually assigned to a room, but when I went into the room in the evening, I found there were four people in the room including me, and there were only three beds in the room.  So I asked again, and assigned to a new room.  But it was so dirty with a lot of garbage.  I could not believe that they charged me $400 for five weeks with this unpleasant facility.

I was so tired, and I was supposed to get up at 4:30 next morning, so I was not able to blog the same day.  I am writing this the next day.

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