Hannah and Je together

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Eighth Day – Flight Back

After I arrived at the airport Terminal 3, I waited several hours because they allow only three hours prior to the flight.  I went through the initial security check at 2am (my flight was 5am).  They just x-rayed my check-in baggage and asked just a few questions such as if anyone gave me anything, if I have a weapon or something sharp.  That was it.  It was very easy.  Then I checked in my baggage, and I went through the second security check.  The line was not too long at that time of day, but it moved slow.  A guy in front of me complained that it is too slow.  The guy looked like from East India but I cannot be sure.  The young lady staff set him aside, and eventually he got the security check after me.  She said to the guy quietly but firmly, “BEHAVE YOURSELF!”  The security check was very easy, they were all smiling at me, and I was joking with them too.  They had a strange thing, a light blue stick.  They rubbed the tip of the stick on all my belongings such as backpack and laptop which are pretty much all I had then.  And they put the stick onto a machine to analyse.  I asked the lady what that was, and she waved her index finger, smiling and said “secret.” Oh, the guy who was not behaving eventually went to a separate room, and I saw him two hours later at the gate. It looked like he was just released right before the flight.

It is always good to see the windows error message in public

It is always good to see the windows error message in public

McCormick group flew with Lufthansa, and we know that only Lufthansa uses terminal 1 while all other international flights use terminal 3.  Ben Gurion Airport gave the German airline its own terminal.  The security check at terminal 3 was normal, almost same as in America.  That of terminal 1 which is for Lufthansa was extremely terrible.  It looks like that Israel gives German airline very hard and difficult security check only for them.  So, my advice is not to use Lufthansa when you go to Israel.

What other airport has this easy chairs?

What other airport has this easy chairs?

When I went to my gate, I could not believe my eyes – the easy chairs.  So I rested two hours on one of the chairs.

Playground at Ben Gurion Airport

Playground at Ben Gurion Airport

Ben Gurion Airport has very good facilities including this bigger playground for kids.  The picture above is only part of it.

I flew to Zürich airport, and there I transferred to the airplane to Chicago.  As I had the emergency exit seat on the way to Israel, I also got that seat on my way back home.  It was very pleasant flight.  The best thing of flying with SWISS air was that they gave us ice cream as dessert.

One thing Chicago Airport does not have

One thing Chicago Airport does not have

It was not too difficult to find a power outlet in Ben Gurion Airport, and it was very easy in Zürich airport.  The power outlet is one thing almost impossible to find in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

The immigration line at Chicago Airport was a bit different from last time which is January 2014.  If I remember correctly, there were three different lines – for US citizens, for US green card holders, and for anyone else (in other words visitors).  But this time, they had three lines, but the first line was different.  It was for the citizens of US and Canada.  Why American immigration treats Canadian citizens as their own?  Are the two countries going to do M&A?

It was very good to be home, and I realised why everybody says “Home Home Sweet Home.”  It is because there is my sweet honey.

Another story. Egypt Story

When I planned to go to Egypt first time, I booked at a travel agency in Israel.  Not like the trips within Israel, the agency requires at least two or three people to do the trip to Egypt.  And because of war between Israel and Gaza, all other people cancelled the trip, and I alone left which resulted in the automatic cancellation of the trip itself.  Of course I got refunded.

I was digging at Megiddo at that time. I had no idea how and what to do.  Then my co-volunteers told me that we had a guy from Egypt.  His name is Remon Nabil Samuel, and he was actually a square supervisor, and I talked to him about it, and he was kind to help me.  He talked to several of his friends back in Egypt, and one of them was willing to help me.  Her name is Dina Jacob.

She told me to just come and she would guide me all about Cairo for a week.  And of course I trusted her.  We talked through the Facebook messenger, and she also gave me her cellphone number so that I can call her once I got to Cairo.  At that time, I had no idea to visit Luxor.  But two days before my departure, Shirly Ben Dor Evian, the supervisor of my area and squares, strongly suggested me to see Luxor.  So I booked a day trip to Luxor from Cairo for the first day.  Because Dina Jacob, the friend of Remon in Cairo, told me that she would be flexible, so I thought I would see her from the second day.

I went to Cairo from Israel’s Taba border by two buses.  First night I messaged Dina Jacob with Facebook messenger, but my messages did not go through.  And I realised that she blocked me on Facebook!  So I called her by the number she gave me, and nobody answered.  I felt like I was lost in the space, but soon I realised that I had a day of buffer or cushion because the first day was already booked for Luxor trip.  For that night and next day, I googled crazy, called many places crazy.  So I successfully managed all of my days in Egypt – some I used travel agency and some I travelled by myself.

If I did not booked Luxor trip in advance, I would have spoiled and wasted most days in Egypt.  I have no idea what is wrong with Dina Jacob, but I did not complain to Remon.  Knowing everything, God let my supervisor suggest me Luxor, I believe.  Thanks be to God, and also I personally thank Shirly, my area supervisor and the mother of two beautiful girls.

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.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Fifth Day – Last day of digging

Today is my last day of digging.  Tomorrow I go to Tel Aviv to get the Egyptian Visa, and then Eilat to stay a night.

Still Digging

Still Digging

Because it is the last week of excavation, we were supposed to clean up all week for the last day aerial photo shoot, but we were actually digging more and more.  It is OK because I am leaving now, but I guess it would be very hard Wednesday.  Photo shoot is Thursday, and they must clean up by Wednesday.

My lovely Trainers

My lovely Trainers

After I finished my digging today, I threw away my trousers and shoes.  Both I bought in Canada as work pants and work shoes, and I wore them about five or six years.

Bottom of the shoes

Bottom of the shoes

This is the bottom of my shoe.  My Nike shoes travelled from Canada to US, Israel/Palestine twice and finally died in Israel.

From Tel Aviv to Cairo is about 250 miles or 403 km.  The distance between New York and Chicago is 713 miles or 1147 km.  It is about one-third, and the airfare is over $400 and also it took 15 hours mostly because of waiting for the connection.  Stupid.

Well, anyway I need to get the Egyptian Visa by tomorrow.  And I need a passport photo, which I do not have right now.  And I do not know where I can take my passport photo in Tel Aviv.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Fourth Day – Preparing the new tour

This is the last week of excavation.  I think it was pretty good that I experienced Lachish and Megiddo.  If Jerusalem is the Capital of Ancient Israel kingdom, Lachish and Megiddo are both centre of North and South, like the two wings of a bird.

Not that big centiped here, but it is huge

Not that big centipede here, but it is huge

In the morning when I was moving to other area on the Tel Megiddo, I saw this centipede (I did not count if it actually has hundred legs; centi = 100, pede = leg).  We see a lot of centipedes in the early in the morning, and they rush to go underground.  But some of them lose its way, and they all die of the sun.

Excavation Notice

Excavation Notice

I also took this picture of the notice about the excavation on the entrance of the park (Many archaeological sites are national park including Tel Megiddo and Tel Lachish).

This is how you find an antique

This is how you find an antique

And this is today’s founding, the complete bottom of a jar.  I also found a few olive pits and grains, which are very useful for carbon dating.

I changed my plan of Egypt tour.  I planned to leave this Kibbutz Wednesday and arrive at Cairo by Thursday evening, so that I can see Cairo for two days, and see the Mount Sinai on the way back to Israel.  I decided to leave here a day earlier so that I can also see Luxor.  If I go to Egypt and do not see Luxor, I think that is so stupid.  So tomorrow is my last day of excavation.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twentieth Day – Flint

Today was not too bad, because I found at least something besides pottery pieces.

Pillar Base

Pillar Base

This is believed to be the pillar base.

Jaw bone of probably a goat

Jaw bone of probably a goat

This is the most interesting thing I found today. The jaw bone with some teeth on it. It could be a goat or sheep.

Flint

Flint

I also found several flints today for the first time. This is the nicest one.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Seventeenth Day – First day in Tel Megiddo

Before I begin today’s story, I met an African-American named Reggie.  He is very nice guy and taught many things that I need to know here.  We had supper together, and we began to talk about American Society.

First, I said America need gun control.  There are many countries where guns are illegal and the society is safer.  And he said NO!  He said the gun is to protect – protect yourself and your properties.  We talked a little more, but I realised that it would be useless because we cannot overcome the gap between our thoughts.

The other thing we talked about was health insurance and hospital system.  I said Canada and some (northern) European countries have national health insurance, and that is the way for America to go but it looks not easy.  He said that the national health insurance is stupid idea.  He said he would rather pay and get better health care.  I said that there are many people who are poor and cannot afford the hospital fee.  He said very shocking thing to me that those people are poor because they are lazy, and they do not deserve health care.  I was so shocked, and said, “but they are same human and citizen of America. Don’t you think government must take care of her citizens?”  But his thought was so firm that they chose to be poor, so they do not deserve anything.  I mentioned the documentary Sicko, and he became angry, saying that Michael Moore is a f**king communist and the film is 100% lie.  He also has similar idea about college and university tuition fee that the students can get loans and they can pay it back after graduation.  And that the only reason they are stuck in the debt is that they are dumb, stupid, and lazy.

Then, I changed the topic because I felt he is quite angry and it would be dangerous to continue the conversation on those matter.  But I was very much shocked because I have never met or conversed with anyone who thinks like that way before.

Tel Megiddo

Tel Megiddo

This the Tel Megiddo from under.  We got up at 4 which is half an hour earlier than in Lachish.  And they were so many people that we used two big buses.  It is because that many excavation sites were closed because of the warring situation, and Tel Megiddo is one of a few sites which continues digging, and many students moved over to Tel Megiddo team like me.

Area T, Tel Megiddo

Area T, Tel Megiddo

The is area T where I worked today.  There are many differences between Tel Lachish and Tel Megiddo.  First noticeable one is that Megiddo’s climate is much cooler than that of Lachish, so I did not drink a lot of water.  The speed of dust drying is also quite different.  It just took less than an hour for the fresh mud to dry in Lachish, but here people say that they need to wait until next morning.  The work pace is slower than that of Lachish, probably because of the number of people digging.  Maybe it was because I worked with other Koreans, and most Koreans are workaholic.

Sling Stones

Sling Stones

I was told that my work place is Assyrian Era which I think is very cool because I worked upto Babylonian era at Tel Lachish.  Those are sling stones I found today, and because of three sling stones at the same spot, they concluded it was sling stone factory.

The schedule here at Megiddo is very similar to that of Lachish, but we have fewer breaks here and they do not provide water here, but everybody carries his/her own water bottle.  They provided the water with Van because we needed more water than an individual person can carry.

Schedule is get up at 4, dig until 1, take some rest after lunch, wash potteries and bones, and two lectures in the evening which ends att 10.  Today’s lecture was very interesting and one of them was about DNA and archaeology.  It is very tiring and exhausting schedule, and I have to do this two more weeks including this week.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Israel Trip Fifteenth Day: Megiddo, Anunciation Church, NETS

Today we kind of loose day. We went to Megiddo. Megiddo’s archaeological excavation was done by Oriental Institute of Chicago University, and their job and results are displayed at Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago.

Mountain near Nazareth

Mountain near Nazareth

On the way to Megiddo, we went through a tunnel under the mountain which the ancient Nazarenes tried to push Jesus down off the cliff. According to our George, traditional Jewish execution is: to bind the hands in the back, throw him/her from the cliff head down, and pile the stone over the body.

Outer Solomon City Gate

Outer Solomon City Gate

This is the outer gate constructed by Solomon. There is another inner gate by Solomon. Two major builder of this city is Solomon and Ahab.

Canaanite Gate

Canaanite Gate

This is the older gate made by Canaanites.

Sacred Area

Sacred Area

This is the ancient sacred place, and the round platform is at least thousand years older than Solomon.

Grain Storage

Grain Storage

This is the grain storage with two stairs; one for going down, the other for coming up. It used to be covered to protect the grains from rain, dust and so on.

Water System

Water System

Then we went down to the water system tunnel. The city of Megiddo had same problem as Jerusalem – the water source is out of the city wall. So they dug the underground passage to the water source.

Megiddo has been the key point since the human history, because it is the bridge between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Without crossing here, they cannot go to the other side. Megiddo comes out a lot in the Bible, and Armageddon in the Revelation is Greek transliteration of Hebrew word Har-Megiddo which means the mountain of Megiddo.

Basilica Annunciation Upper Level

Basilica Annunciation Upper Level

Our next destination was Basilica of Annunciation. There are so many churches of Annunciation, but this is the biggest one built over the crusader church which was built over the Byzantine church. The church is all about A and M shape which is the initial of “Ave Maria.”

Art from Japan

Art from Japan

The church has two level, and there are lots of arts from all over the world are on display on the upper level. This one is from Japan and the writing at the bottom says Flower / Of / Holy / Mother / Son, and we can say Beautiful Holy Mother and the Son.

Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary

Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary

Then some of the McCormick group went to Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary, and others enjoyed the first and last free time. The president of NETS is Arab Israeli Christian. We heard many things, but I am glad that there is Christian seminary in Nazareth. As Arab/Palestinian Christian seminary, they have so many things to do. I hope we can build good relationship between NETS and McCormick.

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