Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Last day in Israel, April 12

This will be the final entry in this blog. It is about our last day in Israel which began with a visit to the Armenian Quarter of the Old City. One of the members of our group is Armenian although he was told by a man there that unless he speaks the language he is not really Armenian! Our group would have voted otherwise but be that as it may. The Armenians were active in Jerusalem centuries ago and were pioneers in printing books and literature. The picture below features our friends, the Andonians in an Armenian seminary.

Our next stop was on the way to Jericho. There is a little outpost near there where Muslims believe Moses is buried. We stopped briefly. The picture below is of a mosque there. This place today is a kind of drug rehab. center.

On the road from Jerusalem to Jericho we passed numerous bedouin villages. These people live nomadically much like they have for centuries. They are Israeli citizens, serve in the military, but live as and where they please pretty much.

Jericho is under the control of the Palestinian Authority so once again our Jewish guide was dropped off as he is not permitted to enter this region. It is to me a sad commentary about the political realities today. In Jericho we saw the famous sycamore tree that is reputed to be 2000 years old. Was this the one that Zacheus climbed up? We will never know. Here is a picture of it.

We drove through a checkpoint manned first by Israeli soldiers and then at the second point by thePalestinian Authority. The latter handed me a rose as a token of friendship I suppose. In spite of that kind gesture, we did not have a really positive feeling about being in Jericho. In addition, some of us may have picked up something in the lunch we ate there. Not a particularly good memory of this ancient city and a cause for discomfort on the long flight home later that day. The photo below shows another bus just coming through the border checkpoint. One man at the lunch stop adamantly blamed Pres. Bush for all the problems the Palestinians are having. There is nothing new under the sun. He is blamed for every problem here as well!!!

We concluded our day and our tour of Israel by relaxing in our hotel in Jerusalem. The Olive Tree has a nice website for anyone wishing to see more but here is one photo taken of the inside of this very comfortable hotel. This is the room where we took most of our meals.

And so, our tour came to an end! One more reminder of what life in Israel is like is that our bus was stopped at another checkpoint at the entrance to the airport. An armed Israeli soldier boarded the bus, took a careful look at each of us, and then waved us on. Just another routine day in Israel. Saying goodbye to our wonderful guide, Salo was difficult. He told us when we arrived that we were his "family". By the time we left, he was part of our family and a great reason for the success of our tour.

Another reason for a successful tour was that each person in our group fit in well with the others. It is important to have a certain kind of chemistry and we certainly had that. Thanks to Andonians, McRae, Johnstones, Penner, Rowe, Peters, Sharpnacks and Lehmans. You were great!

Fortunately for us all, the flights both coming and going were not entirely full so we had room to spread out a little. After 11 and 1/2 hours of flying, we landed in New York. Shortly we all scattered to our various homes. Sue and I were very pleased to be able to secure a flight to San Francisco and then Redding. By 2 PM Calif. time on Sunday we were home once again.

It was a spectacular trip for everyone. Various reunions are planned and rumors abound of another tour to some exciting location somewhere in the world. Stay tuned! You never know!

1 comment:

Constance Todd said...

It's great to know that you guys had a great time. I do believe in what you said about the people being in a tour having some kind of chemistry with each other. If you wouldn't feel awkward towards anyone or feel conscious in their presence, there's a great chance that you’ll each get to enjoy every single second of the trip.

Constance Todd