Monday, January 01, 2007
Magic of the Middle East ...
The magic of the Middle East ... snow on palm trees (despite 5 days in Sweden, my first snow of the year was in Jerusalem), rainbows in the desert (Dead Sea) ... not a very conventional week in Israel ... meanwhile in Jordan, a snowstorm dumped a meter of snow on Petra (thus preventing my much anticipated and fantasized visit, and requiring the army to rescue via airlift 61 Greek tourists as there were no snow plows) ... an interesting, but by no means entirely satisfying, trip
Jerusalem is an amazing place ... too much history and culture ... From getting lost in several bibilically-famous sites of miracles and daringdo -- Temple Mount, Gethesemane, Via Dolorosa, Golgotha, etc -- to the current dynamics of the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian Quarters ... I can start to understand why it has been the most contested-over city in history
I loved Tel Aviv (probably should have gone to med school there instead of Cleveland), I hated the border crossings (that held a travel partner for 5 hours because he has a muslim name and has been to lebanon and syria) ... but the spas and hammams more than made up for all of the hassles and slight misfortunes
New perspectives were my Christmas/Hannukah/Eid gifts ... from getting a glimpse of life behind the West Bank walls in Palestine to hearing about the vehement administrative support for holocost deniers in elite, secular Jordanian schools, the area just grew more complex by the day ... on my last day I found myself in arabic markets shopping beneath the glow of Al-Jezzera replaying the inapproprately-timed execution of Saddam Hussein (accompanied by somewhat accusing stares as many Jordanians and Palestinians were very supportive of the former regime), as if to remind me of the part that I have to play in the entire drama -- and that it is impossible to be just a spectator anymore
I'm very thankful for my arabic-savvy host (Abi) and traveling partners (Abi & Ali) for the week, as well as the Fulbright expat group for more exposure and inclosure than I could have mustered on my own ... shukran!
I've posted 60+ of my favorite pictures from the week at my new photo site --
You don't need to sign-up for anything to view them, and it's much easier than uploading a dozen pictures to my blog ... so enjoy at your leisure !