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 !


Kurt said...
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Kurt said...

Neil, i enjoyed your blog as well as your photos - and should probably confess to stealing one or two from Jerusalem. I wish you much success this year in solving the thorniest problems of bioethics, and at the very least a good time traveling. Best, Kurt from the hostel.

mudboots said...

this is so awesome, I hope that someday I will be able to travel to these places.

too bad you didn't get to see petra in the snow... that would've been sweet.

I'll be checking out the rest of the photos!

A. said...

greetings from louisiana! we've enjoyed reading about and seeing pics of your travels. the mrs. says hi.

lazyhawk16 said...

Neil, some things you should know...the coach of our Xbox NBA2K7 team is Gheorghe Muresan, your backup @ center is Robert Swift (seen here tearing his ACL)...I am now working in a real estate firm getting paid twice as much as my old job...James is getting married...Knudsen is getting married (not to James)...we're probably getting another giant dog, and I won the football league again, making me $510 richer and everyone else more hateful towards Phelans...let me know if you're going to be in the States any time soon...tiene mucho suerto...~mike