A Travellerspoint blog

Israel Day 4

Traveling down from Nazareth to Tel Aviv.

semi-overcast 50 °F

This has probably been one of my favorite days so far. I can't believe everything I've seen and done. Not only have I physically touched pieces of the past, but I've also touched pieces of the future. The current geopolitics in Israel aren't only interesting, they're also dangerous, complicated and globally salient. This is a huge deal for such a geographically small country.

We started our day at Mt. Precipice, the site of the rejection of Jesus described in Luke 4:29-30. The people of Nazareth, not accepting Jesus as the messiah, tried to push him off the mountain. I have difficulty imagining how this happened, but apparently he just passed through the crowd and walked away. I wish I could do that. All history aside, the site was beautiful. The sheer drop off was a little unsettling, but we could look off far into the distance at the land beyond. Behind us we could see the city, and kind of like San Diego, the houses and businesses were terraced along the side of the mountain. I've never seen anything quite like it.

Our next stop was about a two hour drive away, so during that time our tour guide decided to punish some of the people in our group who had been late coming onto the bus. So far three people have been required to tell an embarrassing story about themselves into the microphone in front of the whole bus. Yesterday we heard the harrowing tale of someone who farted and sneezed at the same time during an important test. Today, someone got up to the mic and told us a story from the night before when he tried to buy a bottle of wine from the bar at the hotel. He learned after buying the bottle that apparently he wasn't allowed to bring it back to the room. So, after much discomfort and suspicious looks from the bartender, the one guy preceded to sit down at one of the tables and slowly drink the entire bottle of wine, much to the amusement of the Israelis sitting around him. I haven't done the delivery justice, but needless to say, the entire bus was laughing very very hard.

Our next stop was an old-timey reenactment of ancient Nazareth, similar to one of those colonial experiences in the United States. It was really interesting to witness. In addition to actors tending the fields and livestock, they had an authentic wine press that was excavated several years ago. The ancient Jews used to step on the grapes with their bare feet in order to avoid crushing the bitter seeds, and the juices would run down into a second area below the first. After walking through the whole town, each of us were given a replica of an ancient oil lamp that I fully intend on using sometime in the future.

After a short drive we arrived at our next stop, the church of Annunciation. I sound really redundant saying this, but it was really stunning. Within the lower level of the church is part of an archeological site where Mary, Jesus' mother, is thought to have received the announcement from God that she would give birth to Christ. Within the ancient room is a small altar with candles that shimmers throughout the space and creates a beautiful atmosphere. In front of the room is a marble table and a space for worship and prayer. The same time we were there, a group of Nigerian tourists came to visit the church as well. It's amazing to see how religion brings all different races together. As a testament to this, there are walls upon walls of mosaics inside and outside of the building depicting Mary and baby Jesus from throughout the world. Absolutely beautiful and an honor to behold.

Shortly after our time in the church we broke off into groups to get lunch in the modern town of Nazareth. It was a bit surreal to see people going about their daily lives, eating, working, and shopping amidst such renowned religious sites. A few friends and I went to a local shawarma and falafel shop, and I ordered the falafel falafel. WOW it was delicious. After that we went to another shop for some local baklava, and within a few minutes I gobbled that up too. Israel isn't a perfect state, but damn do they do their food well.

Our final scheduled stop of the day was to Alfei Manashe; Israel's narrow waistline (or that’s how it’s described in our travel itinerary anyway haha). On our way to the location our guide, Shai, described some of the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It is much more complicated than I ever could have imagined. I would love to write down what I’ve learned here, and perhaps I will in the future. Seeing the fences delineating the Gaza Strip from Israel is both humbling and slightly disturbing.

We spent the evening exploring the city of Tel Aviv in our own small groups. Our hotel is right across the street from the Mediterranean Sea, and for a while we walked along the beach while flashes of lightning lit up the sky in the distance. My group and I sang nerdy musical theater songs and completely outed ourselves as foreigners. It was so much fun.

Finally, just in case someone from Passages reads this. I most certinalky did NOT buy my first drink tonight, and it definitely wasn’t tequila mixed with sprite. That would be crazy. It definitely wasn’t delicious and fun.

We’ll be learning more about the Gaza Strip tomorrow. I’ll try to include some information then if I can.

Shalom!

Emily

Posted by emschroen 22:22 Archived in Israel

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