Published: July 5th 2009
July 5th 2009
L'arbre de Zachee
The tree of Zacchareus: a hated moneylender, who climbed up this tree to hear Jesus speak, and was thus forgiven
I am exhausted, mentally spent, and extremely, and utterly salty. I went to the Dead Sea and Jericho this weekend. (I still cannot get over how CLOSE everything is here.) I’m having a hard time trying to remember everything that happened this weekend.
So. One thing at a time.
Jericho was cool. We made our way through Ramallah and checkpoints, making sure to take advantage and pick up some booze when we go the opportunity. It’s truly odd being in other cities here- seeing people in shirts that nearly expose their shoulders (Shock, I know!) and, being able to buy alcohol? Unbelievable. Haha.
In any case, our first night in Jericho was fun, and effectively proved that my alcohol tolerance is truly and utterly low, and I was giggling wildly off of my half beer.
This is in comparison to the two guys I was traveling with. Pif is French, and is interning at a hospital here, and Enric is Spanish, working on sustainable housing. Both are also working with the Community Service Center. However, Pif spent a year in Spain, so his Spanish is better than his English, so they got to gab away to their
Monastery of Temptation
The site of Jesus' fast, the Devil's Temptation, and Stacey's analysis of the golden age of hockey with a Greek Orthodox monk
hearts’ content, with me struggling and misinterpreting every other sentence (or so it felt- it got to a point where I would say something, and then, upon reflection, I wouldn’t know what language I said it in) So they are both tall, European, and male, so they had quite a nice time mocking my lack of tolerance.
In any case, we sat on our little ghetto balcony in our little ghetto hotel and drank beer in the summer night, and it was practically like being back in Montreal for a minute.
Oh! This is, of course, after the mini impromptu party. We were wandering, looking for a pastry place, and next thing you know, we have befriended these Christian Arabs, who start passing around the 50% ouzo and their homemade moonshine. It was like a 15 minute binge fest… disorienting, like having the Tazmanian Devil bust into your house. Once you realize what’s happening, it’s gone. Everyone dispersed, and I was left to stumble back to our balcony, giggling the entire way. Haha.
In any case, we ran into the same people the next day- these Palestinian cities are like small towns!- and one of their friends
Our little car- from 1980
ended up giving us a tour the entire day. We saw some of the oldest ruins in the world, some extremely significant religious sites, chilled out at a date factory (where I got proposed to- my 2nd proposal thus far), to top it off, we went to the monastery built on the spot Jesus fasted for 40 days (and where the Devil put him through three temptations). Now, imagine being in a monastery of extreme religious significance, on the top of a mountain bordering the oldest city in the world, talking with the Greek Orthodox monk that lives there about....
wait for it...
The monk living there turned out to be a Torontonian Greek guy who'd been living in Palestine for 13 years. I brought him up to date, and he told me stories of the glory days. Enric and Pif looked dazed.
Later on, I partially invaded the male world, because males and females truly come from different worlds here. Both Pif and Enric have spent less than a month in the Muslim world between them, so they find no problem in me sitting with them, at a coffee shop, smoking sheesha and chilling. Well, the
Before the guys dunked me in
discomfort just gave way to amusement. These coffee shops- only for men. And that’s one of the most established socially understood rules there are. So, to say the least, there were a lot of inquisitive looks.
'Today was amazing- on Kalia beach, on the Dead Sea. I’m living on a beach. No question. And no joke the water is saltier than possibly imaginable. I’m in there, in a full tucked cannonball position, and you float. You stand straight, as if you could touch the bottom, and you float. I’m thinking it must be the safest lake ever- no need for a lifeguard, truly you wouldn’t be able to sink if you tried. If only a person could convey a sensory feeling… but I think I was more surprised at how fast it seems normal. The next time I go swimming, I’m going to immediately flounder.
HOWEVER. If you get any of this in your eyes- freaking EH. Stinging, sharp, cringe worthy pain. The taste is like chugging out of a box, so imagine that in your eyes. Each of us immediately started swearing in our own respective languages, the minute it inevitably happened.
It was …fun too,
Unfortunate graffitti in a beautiful archeological site
to be able to wear my bikini. My shoulders didn’t even know what hit them. (well, sun). But amazing how conservative I’ve become over the past year. I had to give myself a pep talk with every article of clothing I removed- looking around at all the other beach-goers (tourists and Israelis, and all ridiculously exposed for Palestine) for motivation.
I am covered in salt, though. I should make my way to a restaurant or something and shake my hair over the fries or something!
There are more photos below