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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Stop Being So Canadian!



We're back in the Old City, walking to the food court of the Old City. Some stayed at a café for lunch, but I had passed some interesting prints, and I want to return to them. It's an absolute maze here, but we find the shop and purchase, after ‘successfully’ bartering down, a print. (Do we ever get a fair price? Bartering, while fun, is a difficult process. I guess this is like buying a car.) The merchant wanted $35 for a print, and after a bit of back and forth, we settled for $15. 

Last time, I bought one of this painter's prints


The market as a whole is a cacophony of sights and sounds and smells. The bumps of many bodies, incense so thick it lingers on the tongue, all add to the experience. Bright colours, music, noise, the calls of store owners,  it’s a sensory overload to this country gal. 

A spice shop

It also had teas

Following our guide through the market.



An insane number of people.

We returned to the café and after everyone had eaten, we walk the short distance to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Here, we experience another attack on our senses. The press of many people, the glare of bright colours, a maze of sections and the incredible lineups might scare off even the most stalwart, but we push  on. 

The entrance to the church

There were guards high up, although the one below doesn't look like a regular Israeli soldier. 


Not too sure about this guy!


The upper section where the cross had once been is closed off for a service, so our guide takes us downstairs to see the original Golgotha. It’s actually a tall outcropping of rock and accessible at two levels, but visible only through layers of glass. This lower part has a small altar in front of it. 

That tiny window shows us Golgotha

The window is so small!


Later, we walk through the church to a small, divided chapel (Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic). There is a 30 minute wait to peek inside. And all you see is what is left of Joseph of Arimethea’s tomb, the borrowed tomb of Christ which has been dismantled and a chapel built over top of it. A chapel within a church.

The front of the chapel

The back of the chapel.


Yossi takes us to another room. In order to prove Jesus was buried here, one must assume that this area was a cemetery, as the Jews did not bury their dead alone, and therefore there must be other tombs here. Archeologists found another tomb, a double one. But this section of the church belongs to the Syrian Church, and it's losing its battle with time. The Syrians have no money to fix their altar and the Catholics want it, because it’s of historical value, but the Syrians won’t sell it. Our guide says that as a result, it is often the target of vandalism by Catholics. 

The battered Syrian altar in the other tomb found there.


The Double tomb.



We try to leave but the press of bodies stops us. Our guide scolds us. “Stop being so Canadian!” I thrust out my elbows and wobble through the thick crowd, none of them offended as a Canadian might be. Hey, I have visited The Terracotta Warriors. I know how to squeeze through a crowd.


At the entrance, we are greeted by a line of Franciscan monks, young men lining up in their rough brown robes and rope belts to corral their pilgrims in for a service inside. One of our group asked to have her photo taken with one, and since she's young and pretty, the young monk obliges. 

Corralling their pilgrims.


We thread our way through the crowd and return to the Jaffa Gate. It’s getting close to sundown and the wind has turned chilly now that we're no longer sheltered by high walls and the press of warm bodies. The Sabbath is starting and we have to hurry to the bus. 

Hurrying out the Jaffa Gate. It's getting cool out.


I know it’s been tiring for some of our group, but I’m pleased our guide had insisted we do these things. One of our group commented on our guide’s measured pace, but when necessary, he could really move quickly.



Back at the hotel, we prepare for the Shabbat meal, and learn that not just elevators can be programmed for the Shabbat, but also lights, and even key cards are surrendered in favour of mechanical keys so that no work can be done on the Sabbath. I’m reminded that the laws of the OT were impossible to follow, so we needed to rely on God, and not ourselves. 

After the meal, we are politely asked to leave as there are a lot of guests tonight. So we retire to the lobby where I notice armed soldiers around us. Since Trump announced the US would set up an embassy in Jerusalem, Palestinians have called Fridays a Day of Rage; hence the armed presence. 

Where we are going tomorrow morning, there is unlikely to be any guards. 

We're going deep underground.

 

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