Monday, July 25, 2011

Just an Another Day in Paradise

Everday in Jerusalem is an adventure, but the last few have been gems.  On Shabbat (Saturday) two friends and I decided to visit Gethsemane and spend time thinking of Christ and his life.  To get to the Garden we either have to make a huge loop up by the Old City or cut through the Orson Hyde Gardens.  For security reasons, we're not allowed to go through Orson Hyde without a large group, so that was not an option.  We also didn't want to make a huge loop so we decided to take this trail above Orson Hyde.  The way to the garden was uneventful, although I'm sure that we looked like quite peculiar in our church clothes walking through dirt and weeds.  On the way back we decided that we wanted find a short cut.  We came to the bottom of the field that we cut through on the way and decided 'If we hope the wall, we'll cut even more time off.'  So, we did.  Hopping a stone wall in the middle of Jerusalem in a skirt is not as easy as it sounds.  After we got over the fence we began to walk in a diagonal path, but we soon realized that this was not the right field.  We turn off our diagonal path and make for the side of the field when we see this huge sign that read 'Beware of Dog.'  We don't think anything of it but as soon as we get to this driveway this massive German Shepard comes bounding towards us (well, it was more of a lazy trot).  We all start trying to get to the end of the driveway without looking like we were frazzled.  I was pretty sure that that dog was going to eat me in that field.  We finally make it to the road after what seems like an eternity and began walking on the road again.  Upset that our plan to take a short cut didn't work, we decide to hop the stone wall again.  We were pretty sure that this was the right field and the dog was at the bottom of the field.  We hop the fence for the second time and tip toe to other side and proceed to make the journey back to the JC unharmed.
The next day (Sunday) was a free day. In one of our classes our professor assigned us about forty sites around Jerusalem that we needed to visit during our semester here.  A group of friends and I decided that we would try to knock out a few and then come home and do homework.  Our first stop of the day was the Western Wall.  I got to put a prayer in the Wall which was super neat.  I always love getting to leave a little piece of myself behind.  After the Western Wall we made a stop at the Dome of the Rock.  There is security everywhere in Israel so we had to wait in line before going onto the temple mount.  We finally made it inside when one of friends was told that her skirt was too short.  Another girl in our group and her decided to switch skirts.  Joan and I were waiting for them when she found a 100 shekel note, which is about $30.  Having been raised by goodly parents, we decided that we were going to turn it in.  There was a group of tourists from somewhere in Eastern Europe I'm guessing and we asked if it was theirs.  The language barrier made it impossible to communicate so we decided to just find the police.  When we told them that we wanted to turn the money in they just laughed at us.  They were in shock that we were turning it.  They asked if we wanted to keep it, but we told them no.  The guard proceeded to take Joan's information and if no one claims it in three months she'll get it in the mail :) From the Dome of the Rock we went to one of our favorite shop keepers and asked him where in the Old City we could get some falafel.  The next thing we know we're winding through the dark alleyways of the Old Jerusalem.  I was fully expecting Jason Bourne to burst out of a window or something. We finally make it to the restaurant (which was super mega delicious).  The last thing on our agenda for the day was to visit the Israel Museum.  The museum is about an hour's walk from the JC so after we were done we didn't want to walk all the way across the city.  Our group split up and two friends and I headed for the bus stop.  The only bad thing was that none of us knew which bus would take us back to the Center.  We asked several people, but none of them could tell us which bus went to Mount Scopis.  Finally a bus pulled up and Sharla asked the driver if his bus was going to the JC.  He had this sly smile on his face and answered in the affirmative so we got on.  The bus then started travelling in the opposite direction than the one we needed to go.  Hoping that he would eventually turn around, we just sat there.  Eventually he did turn around and we made it home, safe and sound.
Finally today :) We had a field trip in the morning and then if we wanted to we could stay in the city.  The morning was blazing! I don't know what it is about Israel, but it seems that every time we have a field trip it tries to break heat records.  Weird.  Anyway, we saw 2 museums and the archaeological site of the temple.  Earlier in the morning three friends and I decided that we wanted to go the Ariel Museum, one of the sites on our professor's list.  The only English tour began at noon.  If we missed this time we would have to make an appointment, which isn't a big deal, just inconvenient. Brother Judd wrapped up our class at 11:45.  We all looked at each other and decided that if we sprinted we could make the noon tour.  We snapped a few pictures and then began our mad dash through the city.  We were in the southeastern corner and we needed to get to the center of the city.  To get to the Ariel we needed to run through the Jewish Quarter. Monday mornings, however, are the most popular time for bar mitzvahs.  We needed to cut through the Western Wall plaza in order to get to the Jewish Quarter and, subsequently, passed through several bar mitzvahs.  We looked just awesome running through these groups of Jewish families with our backpacks bouncing along behind us.  I'm sure they were all thinking, 'Crazy Americans!'  The heat was just starting to get to us when we came to largest staircase in the city.  They should probably rename them the 'Cliffs of Insanity.'  We began our marathon sprint up them.  In that moment I couldn't help but feel like I was in some teenage movie where we were running from some form of government law enforcement.  All we needed was some dramatic music by Boys Like Girls and the scene would be complete.  We finally get to the top and none of us can remember which way were supposed to turn.  We take off down one of them and decide to stop and ask for directions. At this point it's 11:55, so we're quickly running out of time.  The man that we ask has no clue where the museum, but all of a sudden I remember how to get there.  We had naturally picked the wrong road so we back track and get on the right road.  To get to the Ariel we had to pass through this small plaza to get to the right road.  As we come up on the plaza we see that it's clogged with a bar mitzvah party.  Knowing that time is slipping away, we push through and then sprint off towards the museum.  We keep sprinting despite all the nasty looks and confused comments by the locals.  One man asked us what had happened; I wonder if he thought we were running from danger because he looked pretty stressed out.  Around a few more corners and we finally make it to the Ariel at 11:59.  We ask the receptionist if we can still make the noon tour.  Laughing, she tells us 'yes' and then asks why we're so out of breath.  We explain the situation and she continues to laugh.  It turns out we were the only ones who showed up for the noon tour, so we could have been late :) Oh, the adventures of life!

Garden of Gethsemane 

Sharla and I at the Western Wall 

The three arches that mark the ancient entrance to the Temple Mount 

Just after our run to the Ariel Center

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