Haifa, Nazareth & Galilee

For the photo album click here:  Haifa

I know, I’m a little behind on my blog…. well, more than a little. I’ve been feeling less motivated to write, likely because of the heat but also because my “outings” seem somewhat trivial. Now I’m staring at a blank entry frame that’s waiting for my insightful commentary on Israeli life. But I have none. So, instead, I shall briefly recap my outings to Haifa and Galilee.

Three weekends ago we met at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station to take the bus to Haifa. Some general observations:

– one must wait on the platform for the bus, then have the pleasant experience of being pushed ONTO the bus
– while being squished, I felt something jabbing my thigh. It took a moment for me to realize it was the rifle carried by the soldier standing next to me.
– they allow more passengers than seats. One volunteer had to sit in the aisle (later another switched with her).

I really enjoyed Haifa. I felt that I could breath a little easier; the wind from the Mediterranean Sea helped I’m sure. Our first stop was Stella Maris Church, home of the Carmelites and their site of Elijah’s Cave on Mt. Carmel. Something about that church evoked a sense of sacredness and worship. When we stepped in, a gentleman was softly playing Ave Maria on the trumpet. A moment after he finished, a woman began singing in a magnificent voice while kneeling at the back pew.

Later, we set off in search of the Jewish site of Elijah’s Cave. We found it after a bit of hiking/wandering. We then took the bus to the German Colony and walked through it to the base of the Baha’i Gardens. Unfortunately we only had access to the first level, but what we saw was lovely. And as we continued to explore the city, we chanced upon a Filipino market store. The Sisters have asked if I could cook a Chinese meal and with that in mind, I bought some supplies (alas, no Chinese veges).

For the photo album click here: Nazareth & Galilee

The next weekend, Sister R arranged a trip to Nazareth and Galilee for us. It was another blitz car-tour. The sites we visited were:
– Church of the Annunciation and St. Joseph (Jesus’ dad)
– Monastery of the Little Brothers of Jesus (site where Charles de Foucauld lived for 3 yrs)
– Mt Tabor & the Church of the Transfiguration
– Tiberius
– Capharnaum
– Peter’s Primacy
– Church of Beatitudes

Nazareth, which is the largest Arab city in Israel, has a population of 60,000 of whom approximately 30-35% are Christian. From what we saw, Nazareth seemed quite lovely and picturesque, with some areas reminiscent of Italy. Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday and all the shops were closed (but the Holy sites were relatively quiet). I was quite taken by the Madonna mosaics donated by communities all around the world. Something in me resonates when seeing cultural expressions of Christianity, it gives me hope that diversity and differences need not be polemic.

The day was humid and terribly HOT. I was most grateful that we had our own air conditioned car to take us from place to place. I’m learning that travel around Israel can be difficult in the summer without a car. Not all the famous sites are accessible by bus, and if they are one could be left waiting in the heat for a dangerously long time.

Well, that’s all for now. Today marks the beginning of Ramadan and my last month in this strange land. There are a few places I still wish to see like Qumran and Masada. But my heart is already yearning for familiar people and things. Strangely enough, I’m not missing food yet – though volunteer N keeps bringing up Chinese food. I can’t say what I miss the most – perhaps my room and bed 😛

Shalom, friends. May peace find you, and may you consider yourself blessed.

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