Friday, 8 June 2012

Too early!

I set the alarm on my mobile phone for 03.10 hrs today.... I haven't reset the time for Jerusalem but even in the right time zone, 05.30 is an early start.  But it was my own choice.  I had agreed to go to the church of the Holy Sepulchre with Jim and Aoife, possibly John. (In the end all four of us made it!)  It was worth it.  Being one of the first people in that amazing place was quite awe inspiring.  Listening to the tonal chanting of the monks as we visited the holy sites was almost other worldly.

Being in the Old City so early was also a revelation as we witnessed the city waking up.  The old women who sell herbs were already setting out their wares.  The odd little cafe was open, religious folk were making their devotions and as we walked back to the hotel people were beginning to pace the pavements on their way to work.

I haven't got time to catch up with Wednesday, let alone begin to do justice to Thursday... but I'm making lots of notes so as not to lose the essence of what we're finding out. 

However, in a nutshell yesterday started to introduce us to some of the peoples of this land in a much more immediate fashion.  We visited the orphanage in Bethany and saw the real improvements that had been made to the place since we last visited two years ago.  We also went to the traditional site of Lazarus' tomb.  Some of our party were literally at the bottom of the cave on their hands and knees crawling into the 'tomb' when the electricity was cut!  Pitch black is quite scary when you don't expect it.  After a delicious lunch in the Armenian Quarter we went on an eye-opening trip guided by a Rabbi for Human Rights.  These people put their necks on the line in the name of justice.  They challenge injustice wherever they see it and try and provide for needs.  We saw a 'temporary' school that they had built for the Bedouin children and the tunnel under the road that allowed them safe passage.  But I'll tell you more about their work when I can find more time...

Must stop - but not before I mention that Jim was chosen to be the Sultan at last night's Sultan's Feast! There was mush merriment and its still resonating this morning at breakfast! Our group really party well!

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