I haven’t done one of these in a while but Thursdays story really needs to be told while its still fresh in my memory.
Yesterday my friend Teresa and I had decided that we would take a road trip to the Sea of Galilee. We got up fairly early, and after getting gas, cleaning car windows (still covered from salt spray from the big storm) and a quick pastry and cappuccino, we were on the road. Navigation is a tad tricky in this part of the world as you might imagine, although they are pretty good about road signs being in Hebrew, Arabic and English. By the way let me just a moment to hop up on my soap box. OK listen, all you jackasses that complain about having to listen to Spanish speaking message options, reading Spanish on signs etc when you are in the U.S. Let me tell you something, I LOVE that other countries help me out by putting my language on their street signs. LOVE IT. Stop your bitching. Other countries help us out when we are in their country. Stop bitching about us helping them out when they are in ours. OK off my box now.
OK where was I? OH yes, on the road. Teresa being the passenger is relegated to being the navigator. She had the map, she knew where we were headed, done. Or so we thought. Our map didn’t show enough detail to really get us anywhere. We were on HWY 6, then we were on another highway and then another highway and then, this.
I’m not sure if its obvious to most of you as to what this is, so I will tell you. Its the heavily fortified crossing into Palestinian inhabited part of Israel. Now its important to remember, its very easy to get IN to the Palestinian side, its a tad more problematic getting out. Not because its dangerous (I think), or because they won’t let us white bread Americans back into Israel, its because once you are on the Palestinian side, the road signage is pretty weak, and getting lost in places that would scare the hell out of most people, is just about a given.
You will make note of the relationship between where my car is parked and the road. This is because I quickly pulled over to snap a quick photo and to say “uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, now what?” What is problematic about me being faced with this decision to either enter the Palestinian side in hopes of working my way to our destination, or not, is that I live my life by one simply rule. In life ALWAYS take the path leading you to the best story. I guess you know what happened next. With Teresa sitting in the passenger seat saying “uhhhh is this ok?” And me responding with “Im sure it will be fine”, we headed through the checkpoint.
After many turns and lots of photos, we start to realize we are off track, really really off track. We really didn’t know where we were. The signage (in Arabic) is no help whatsoever, and we are driving blindly. After an hour or so we start to enter towns. Towns where there are no white people in Honda civics blasting Tears for Fears on the stereo. We are stared at. I answer by taking photos.
First little town we came through.
There aren’t many fat guys in Israel. This one looks like he is from Granite Falls.
Mmm goat. I think its goat. It could be the last white guy to drive through this town in a Civic.
Hey its Arafat!
So anyway you get the picture (pun intended). At one point we come into the above town. There is a large gap in my photos as it becomes very crowded and the traffic is crazy. We are starting to get a little uneasy. We are stuck in traffic, people are staring and we are lost.
I wish I had pictures of this next chapter because it was goodness. I finally saw some Palestinian Authority cops standing by an armored VW Van. By armored, I mean some sort of screen stuff screwed over the windows. They were parked at a very busy round-a-bout. As there was no place to park, I just pulled up as tight as I could to the circle, which is to say, not tight at all. And jumped out of the Civic. Now take a moment to picture this. Arabs, lots and lots of Arabs. Guys with automatic weapons standing on the round-a-bout and me getting out of the car in cargo shorts and a tee shirt I bought at Costco. I stick out like AN AMERICAN IN PALESTINE. I go up and say “HI IM LOST, can you tell?” The guy stares at me. I say “WAIT!”. I run back to the car. At this point there are many cars honking from the jam I have caused. There is a trucker screaming something at Teresa, who is still in the car, looking forward, making no eye contact. Its not her fault anyway, she is not driving. I grab my map and run back. I point to where I need to be. He calls for another guy to come over. This guy is the guy that knows some English and is assigned to help jackasses who have wandered into where they should not be. He tries to tell me how to get to where we need to go but its futile, so says “you follow me”. So I run back to the car and try to back up through this insane backup I have caused. Cars are honking, everyone on the street is staring and here we are totally screwing up the whole area. I manage to get backed up so that the van can get around me and show me the route. I manage to get this one picture of the van leading us out of town.
The best thing is where he led us. He leads us to a road that does not look like we should drive on it. He said, “Go until you see the wall. Turn right, you will see the Israeli guards. Yell at them through the fence, they can open the gate and let you out”. So we start driving, its not too far until we get to The Wall. Its the wall that the Israeli’s have build to keep the pesky Arabs out. So I look to the right and there is in fact part of the wall that has some fence that can be opened although it looks like it has not for quite some time. I should rephrase, the side letting people OUT, looks like it hasnt been opened in years. The are cars coming into Palestine but certainly not out. I again get out of the car and walk towards the guards, who looks like they are thinking of shooting me. I tell them I am lost and need out of Palestine. They ask to see our passports and search our car. As I am clearly no Arab, they open the gate (actually had to kick it to get it to open) and let us out and on our way. Always the path of the best story.
Next we were headed for Tiberias, the Golan Heights and the river Jordan, or as the Israeli’s call it, the Kinnaret. Its fairly uneventful for the next couple hours. We visit the hill where Jesus did the Beattitude speach. Of course the Catholics own that. I saw a lizard taking a poo and saw some flowers. BTW, I have 5 bucks says youve never taken a picture of a lizard taking a dump. Even if you have seen it.
Church of the Beattitudes
And I shall name him, Turd Ferguson
Next was our trip to the river Jordan where as you know from that one book, Jesus was baptized by John, the baptist. I have been there before but Teresa has not and no trip to the middle east would be complete without a visit to the river. As I stated the last time I wrote about this place, the river Jordan spectacle is quite the thing to behold. Of course everything in this area is churchy and religious but none rise to the level of this place. Its really the Disneyland of religious sites. Teresa and I wandered around. There were some people giving themselves self baptisms. Here is a group of Russian gearing up for a dip.
Oh look a perfectly harmless picture of people getting ready to be bapt…. UH HELLO!
Well here we are in the most holy of places, we should take some pictures of where Jesus was bapti… OH LOOK A RODENT THE SIZE OF A CAT!!!! Yes there was some sort of rodent there as well. This water is also filled with giant catfish. I think that this is probably the only body of water on the planet where women would gladly get in water filled with giant rodents and catfish.
OK as most of you well know by now, I am game for a little hijinx from time to time. After some discussion we decide I am really really in need of a fresh sin scrub and as such, I need a baptism. I go rent my smock, towel and official certificate and head for the water. BTW, its only about 70 outside. Not ALL that warm.
Anyway after much giggling and freezing, we left to go get some lunch and get lost again getting back to the hotel. All in all a good adventure and no harm was done. Well except the few people that might have witnessed the above scene.