Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Shalom Jerusalem! - Tuesday arrival

It's understood that religion and politics are a matter of life in Israel. This was proven true to us the moment we boarded the sherut (shuttle) from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A small micro bus packed with 10 adults plus the driver, we made our way from Ben Gurion airport on sleek freeways where everyone was driving way too fast in my humble opinion.

An older lady, sitting behind us, pointed out highlights on the hour long ride. She shared her story with us; at the age of 5 she and her family was shipped off to a concentration camp. By the time she was 12, she had been in 3 camps and was the only survivor of her family. Through the years, she lived in different countries (including Bucharest) and finally made her home in Jerusalem.
She had strong opinions about Obama, the limitations put on Israeli expansion and when she heard we were staying in East Jerusalem in the Palestinian Arab area - she frowned. I think we disappointed her.

Our shuttle drove in and out of way too narrow streets; traffic was unbelievable and the people here love to use their car horn! After leaving the tidy streets of West Jerusalem and dropping off all the other tourists, we drove into East Jerusalem - and what a contrast! We both immediately saw similarities to the landscape in Tijuana, where our church builds homes. Rugged hills, houses practically on top of each other - some better constructed than others - and human congestion. We looked at each other and smiled - we feel at home!

We left Seattle at 9;30 am on Monday and arrived at our hotel Al Cazar at 6:30 pm Tuesday evening - we were wiped. Our room is very modest, although Alex is trying to get us a slightly larger one with a balcony. He told the owner we were on our anniversary honeymoon which made the old man smile. We'll see what they can do.

Dinner was an impromtu picnic in our room- olives, pastries and mineral water from the local Palestinian quickie mart. We're exhausted.