!!!!Happy Canada Day!!!!
This is what I found in the dining room this morning at breakfast:
It says, “Happy Feast, Canada” – with an attempt at a Maple Leaf. Sister A arranged it. She came over, gave me a hug and said, “Happy Feast, welcome.” 🙂
To celebrate my country’s wonderfulness, I made Nanaimo bars for the house. We shall have it at lunch. I couldn’t think of any other dish that didn’t require maple syrup or salmon. The only problem with the Nanaimo bars is that I couldn’t find custard powder. The good thing is that even if it doesn’t turn out right, no one will know the difference.
Anywho – back to last Monday and my exploration of the Old City.
The second night in Ecce Homo was uninterrupted (I remembered to shut the windows this time). In the morning after breakfast I went to see the tunnels under the Western Wall. I was told that this is one of the “must sees” in the Old City. Immediately after the establishment of Israel in 1967, archeologists began excavating alongside the Western Wall and uncovered levels dating to two thousand years ago. I found that there are excellent internet sites that describe every detail of these tunnels so I won’t go into them. I do want to say that it was a worthwhile tour and one of my favorite experiences thus far. And coincidentally, the tour guide is a Canadian, born in Edmonton and raised in Winnipeg!
After the tunnels, I went to the City of David, another excavation site just outside the Dung Gate, south of the Temple Mount. While crossing the Western Wall square, there were several groups with lively singing and drumming. I think they were bar mitzvahs. It was interesting to see the women standing on plastic chairs to look over the barrier into the men’s section. I’ll have to get an explanation of that another time.
City of David was a little quieter, and I watched a cheesy but helpful 3D movie about it. City of David is also the site of the Hezekiah Tunnel, a 500m water channel that one can walk through provided you have a flashlight and do not mind getting wet. As I was wearing a skirt and was feeling too cheap to purchase a flashlight that I would never use again, I opted for the dry, Canaanite Tunnel. Turns out, it was a good choice because I would have been sandwiched between a large group of Israeli college students and a large group of Israeli school children who liked Justin Bieber .
As I was waiting for the aforementioned school kids to move ahead of me at the entrance to Warren’s Shaft, I saw another Asian (!) who was doing the same. We started talking and I found out that he was not only from Canada, but also from Vancouver! He just graduated from University and was on a crazy trip on his own before moving to HK. Happy to meet a fellow explorer who’s also finding it difficult to adjust to Jerusalem, we agreed to see other sites together for the rest of the afternoon.
We saw the Burnt House, which they believe is the remains of the High Priest’s house during the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. We also saw the Herodian Quarter/Wohl museum, the excavation site of several, large Second Temple-period homes (complete with ritual baths). Next we went to Jaffa Gate to pick up some tourist info, then to Mt Zion where we tried to locate the tomb of David. I have to say, tourist information here is not very clear. All the maps I’ve seen have been poorly marked, there are few signs in the Old City, and you have to be very specific in your questions to get any answers. For example, we didn’t know how to get to the Herodian Quarter from the Burnt House. The first time we asked, the ticket guy waved his arm to the right. The second time we asked (after looking), he said, “Go right, then left, two minutes.”
After Mt Zion, we headed to the Via Dolorosa and parted ways when we got to Ecce Homo. I packed up my things and rested on the terrace; it’s always a long trek back to Ein Kerem. Just when I was feeling so grateful to God to have had a travel companion for the day, I was stopped by a white, not-quite-middle-aged European male as I was walking through the Suq. I thought he was going to ask for directions but I was so wrong…
“Excuse me, are you from Japan?”
“Where are you from?”
“China.” (It just slipped out, because eventually everyone asks where I’m “originally from”)
“Ah, but you have American accent”
“Ahhh, and you probably don’t speak any Chinese.”
(This point, choice words were coming to mind. But I said instead) “Well I speak some.”
The conversation got a bit muddled as I started to move and he said that he’ll “let me go” since my backpack looked heavy. He even had the audacity to say, “Maybe I’ll see you again.”
I smiled weakly and turned, immediately kicking myself for being so polite. I was fuming on the bus ride home, but then decided not to have one brief encounter ruin the whole day. I had told R (the Vancouverite), that I was far less harassed while walking with him than on my own. It was so fitting that as soon as I was walking alone, I was bothered by a creepy man who felt he had the right to ask about my ethnic origins (and I can only assume what his stereotypes of Asian women were).
Funny, I had forgotten about this incident until I started blogging about my day. It’s so lovely in Ein Kerem that I can forget about irritating people. Really, these past few days I have been feeling truly thankful to be here. There’s beauty, there’s peace, there’s quiet, and most importantly, there are lovely people. I am not alone, I never was.