Monday, July 4, 2016

DAY 11 - Mount of Olives, Gunshots, and Fleeced!

It was barely 6am. Everyone was still asleep. I quietly dressed, woke Pamela, and told her I'd meet her downstairs.

The best part of old Jerusalem is walking the cobblestones early in the morning when the air is cool, fresh, and less crowds! We walked and walked the old city until shops began to open.

Passing security, we weaved in and out of the city, exploring.

We discovered a restaurant that was just opening and ordered the Jerusalem breakfast. It was a combination of humus, pita, fresh salad, Arabic coffee, and hot cocoa. Very good!

While we ate, a male voice over the loud speakers of the city, sang a hauntingly beautiful song in Hebrew. This was so different than the Arabic singing I was used to hearing in Egypt when there was the call to prayer. I actually found many songs in Arabic quite beautiful too, and never tired of hearing them.

The entrance to our restaurant. After we paid for our meal, I noticed our waiter/owner was being interviewed by a reporter. I overheard her ask him if he thought Jews, Arabs, and Chrisitans could live peaceably among one another. We walked away as I mused over that question.

Outside the city...

I stopped to stare at the walls. I was fascinated. I noticed my interest was causing a distraction and others would pause and look.
An orthodox Jew couldn't help himself and unashamedly leaned over to listen as I pointed out to Pamela that bricks were interestingly layed over the rock formations. The kind man finally spoke up in broken english and volunteered that the bricks had all been cut and used for the wall from a quarry. I turned to look as he pointed directly behind us. I thanked him for his help and took several snapshots to look at later.

Back inside the city...

Passing through tight security, we exited through another gate, headed for Mount Olives.

As we climbed up the hill to Mount Olives, we entered this old church, and realized it was the Virgin Mary's supposed Tomb.

A man coaxed us down some very steep steps into a very musty room and tried to explain that it was the place where Mary's parents were born, or something like that. I never really quite understood what he was saying. We left the church after a brief examination and sighed in relief under the sunshine. We continued to climb up the steep hill.

We had to hug the wall as cars passed.

Entering through a gate, we explored the grassy hillside.

Zooming at the gate we had earlier exited.

Suddenly gunshots were fired and we stopped and stared at one another. Was that what I thought I heard? More shots were fired.

Smoke rising up in the distance. Later we learned that stun grenades were also being fired.

Distracted from all the shooting, we started heading back. We felt sad, and I thought again about that earlier question about peace. Later that morning we did experience tenseness when we passed a group of Arabic boys who were throwing rocks. Another incident that comes to mind was a group of tourists walking past us and two Arabic teenage girls, singing and chanting on purpose to drown out the tourguide. Personally at that moment, I didn't want to take sides. It was a sad day for everyone involved. While descending down the mountain we passed an outdoor cafe and stopped to use the bathroom and to get a snack. It was very surreal eating our ice cream while listening to gun shots.
We were suprised to see this goat!

While hugging the wall to avoid being hit by a car, we couldn't help but notice/feel this nice thorny plant! I was shocked to recognize it as a plant we had back at home. I'd only seen it once before, and it was while I was on a local field trip at an archaelogical site.

Looking over the wall, we noticed the pretty bird and the lemons.

Back in the old city again.

Falafel for lunch!

Stopped in a candy store to sample...

We stopped to rest our feet at an outdoor cafe and couldn't help but notice we were sitting next to a table of Texans! Boy did they stand out. Wasn't too hard to figure out with the Longhorn ballcap, clothes, and accents. We learned they were from East Texas. It was really nice talking to people from back home.

While we were in the Jewish quarter, we stopped at the Temple Institute Museum.

We passed another restaurant. I wasn't very hungry, but Pamela said she wanted to stop. We peered inside and the waiter ushered us to a table. I explained to him that we weren't very hungry and he suggested we get a dish from the buffet. I explained to him that we wanted to SHARE a meal, as I didn't think we'd eat that much. He said no problem and had us seated. While we helped ourselves to a plate of humus, fries, a small salad, and coke. Our waiter brought us a basket of pita and a plate of grilled chicken. I told him please no more food!

As expected, we couldn't eat it all, and I asked for a take-out carton. We filled it with the leftover chicken and I asked for the bill. He said 240 shekels. I was floored and asked him to repeat himself. 240 shekels.
Quickly doing the math, I realized this was close to $70 USD! My heart started racing and I asked him to explain to me HOW our meal could cost that much! He shrugged. I looked helplessly around and spied another employee and asked him to explain the bill. He looked at me silently while the other guy wouldn't budge. I realized then that I had mistakenly sat down without inquiring about price first. I was duped. Never again. I angrily counted out the bills and told him twice that he should be ashamed of himself! He looked stricken as we stomped off.

The rip-off restaurant.

It was starting to get dark and we were exhausted. We agreed to head back to our hostel to check our emails. I went upstairs to get some things from our dorm and noticed our roommate in the burqa was sitting on the edge of her bunk. She was listening to Arabic music and writing letters.
Back downstairs, I bumped into Richard again, the Canadian guy we had first met at the hostel in Eilat. I asked him if he wanted our leftover chicken and told him how it had cost me a small fortune. He blew his top and said I needed to report it to the police. We walked to the front desk and guy working the office agreed. They explained that no restaurant would charge that much in the old city. I showed them pictures from my camera of the restaurant, and they shook their heads.

Richard said he would go with me to the police to file a report. We found a set of guards and they listened to our story, but seemed very distracted. They referred us to a nearby station outside the gate. We made our way to the station and they said it wasn't something they could take care of as they were in the middle of something important. We ended up being sent back and forth to different guards and finally we were informed to try again in the morning. The police seemed distracted and on edge about something.
I thanked Richard for helping us, but wanted to just forget about it. I learned a lesson.
We settled in the lounge of the hostel and checked our emails and I decided we'd catch a bus back to Eilat in the morning. I knew while on this trip, we wouldn't see everything.
My husband asked me over Skype later what I thought about Jerusalem and I told him that Jerusalem was like having a wasp, fire ant, and scorpion together in a glass jar! Earlier in Eilat, our friend Jeff had said Jersualem was INTENSE. I couldn't have agreed more!

1 comment:

Patty said...

I love looking at all these pictures; especially the candy store!