Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Let me show you round my hood.

Yesterday I truly explored the Mount of Olives for the first time. It's so close and so wonderful, yet I had no idea just how magical it was.

So Kate, Bryan (you'll be seeing an awful lot of their backs), and I had no plan but to wander. And look what we found!

I collect graffiti, interesting signs, and license plates. I'll have to post my Middle East Edition collection sometime soon.
Bryan being a crescent goat. We really, really miss Ramadan.
We accidentally trespassed on an olive tree farm where we were chased and nearly attacked by a pack of vicious feral dogs. And thenwe were stuck between death and big brick walls and barbed wire and suddenly...

...We were at the Garden of Gethsemane!
These trees are very, very old. This place is very, very special. There's a certain feeling permeating the air. Asking us to remember that Christ suffered for the sins and pains of all. Right around here.
Maybe that's why he chose trees that can live to be a couple thousand years old?The church of All Nations, which is attached to the garden, has some incredible artistic elements. The doors illuminated an intricate olive tree design, and let the light birst in, It kind of took my breath away. {That's my dear Ali-cat in the picture}
More of the church:

We happened upon some Spanish Priests performing communion, and a nice little monk watching.Next was the incredible Hebrew cemetary we literally stumbled into. It has an amazing view of the city and the Mount of Olives.

There's another across the way (accross the Kidron Valley, rather) in the City of David (right below the temple mount) that I'm excited to visit. Oscar Schindler is buried there.

Jesus is supposed to enter the city through this gate when he comes again. Which is why Sultan Suleiman blocked it off, I suppose?

This one is for you, Laura Kipp!

So then we stumbled upon Dominus Flevit, a veritable sanctuary. It's the traditional site of Jesus' mourning over Jerusalem and its people.(Remember the Greg Olsen) And you can see why! The view is incredible. We sat in the small empty church, with a direct view of the Dome of the Rock, and soaked in the peace. It was one of my favorite places I've been.
The acoustics in the little domed chapel were incredible. I sang "I wonder when he comes again."
And I really did wonder.

And this sign says to me, "Please keep your rubber gloves off the plant life."

And then we said, "Let's go home." and were so grateful that where we were going was home.
We walked down our favorite street, which I don't know the real name of it is, but I call Baklava street.
Kate and I got kissed on the hand by little boys.
A man drove by in his car and said very sincerely and cordially, "You are beautiful!" Then drove away. Much better than the similar greetings in Egypt which were'nt so cordial. I always had to flank myself with strong young men:

Then we walked through practice at our favorite football {soccer, if you will} field, and along with the hundreds of small palestinian boys running around (one of which, the chubby one, said "Shalom." maybe he thought we were Jewish?), was a man with a giant beard. Racing around on a big grey horse. Through soccer practice.
And a smaller boy nearby breaking a horse.
At soccer practice.
This is quite typical of jerusalem and one of the reasons I love it so much.
I love it so much!
And I love You!

Monday, September 28, 2009

So this one time....when we were in Egypt...

Classic Anna: Forgot my camera charger in Jerusalem. Thus, I have pictures for about one day of Egypt. One day. OF EGYPT. So you get to see us at the pyramids, and that's all.
But oh, what pyramids they are!

Our wonderfully fashionable Egypt sunhats. They've started quite the craze.

Luckily I hopped into as many pictures of friends' as I could, so once we're all thru killing ourselves over midterms and papers and committee meetings and Yom Kippur house arrest, I'll steal those pictures from said friends and you'll all have everything you ever wanted!!
I realize I keep promising pictures. Someday either
a. The internet will start working or
b. I'll finally get myself over to hebrew university and upload. And you'll all have everything you've ever wanted.

But until that magical, magical day, I'll try and remember highlights from that blur that was the ancient wonder of Egypt. Basically it was 8 days of pure, intense, learning, sweating, and watching loved ones have explosive illnesses.
My Favorite things:

  • The Great Pyramids of Giza, of course. We went inside Kufhu's (the biggest big one) and sang creepy, reverberant chants in the tomb. Um...I may or may not have laid in the sarchophogus.

    • The size and beauty was unreal. I just tried to imagine what they were like 4,500 years ago at their prime; smooth white limestone and gleaming golden point, telling the world of the sun god RA and Egypt's eternal power!

    • We also hung out with the darling Mr. Sphinx and avoided merchants in his neat-o, crowded, ancient temple.

  • Saqqara (the oldest old step-style pyramids. Here a member of the "tourism and antiquities police" graciously compelled some friends and I to take pictures on some remote temple. Sit on the king's throne. No big deal.

    • In my defense, ancient wonders in Egypt are kind of like a dime a dozen. People sit, sleep, pick their nose, play cards, spit gum, on them all the time.

  • LUXOR!! This place was beautiful. Ancient Thebes, where Joseph lived. Home of the Valley of the Kings (Yep, met Tut. Actually pronounced "toot" believe it or not. OUr awesome Egyptologist tour guide called us Tut.), The Karnak Temple (the 134 columns of this 10-temple, obelisk-laden dynamite conglomeration of ancient worship is one of the wonders of the ancient world. I saw two of these in three days, not bad, eh?), Hatshepsut's temple, the tomb where the book of Abraham was discovered, yada yada yada. I left my heart in luxor.

    • Here our hotel was right on the banks of the Nile. Once I was assured there were no more crocodiles, I was stoked beyond belief. I didn't expect the beauty. We took a felucca (sail boat) ride, to where our camels (let me tell you sometime how I feel about camels. They are truly noble creatures with funny pita feet) met us. I rode a camel! In EGYPT! We also took a motorboat Nile ride and a horse-drawn carriage ride and a trashy overnight train back to Cairo (I think they wanted us to experience all modes of transportation?).

    • Oh, and the LUXOR temple was also INCREDIBLE. Ramses 2 was huge. And hot. And then I met him in person in the Egyptian museum in Cairo! Mummies,.....woah. They're cool. I had something of an epiphany over King Tut's toes

  • By the way...Sinai? Was one of the highlights of my LIFE.

Oh heavens, I love you guys!
...Remember how I went to Egypt?