Silent Love

A beautiful view from the ramparts, looking out at Jerusalem and I believe towards Palestine. This is a 25 second shutter speed, f/13, iso 200, 110 mm

I just had a fascinating conversation with the girl sleeping next to me. I asked where she was from, and when she said Germany I commented on the amount of Germans there seems to be in Israel. I’m glad I said that, because she went on to explain why she though that was, one reason at least. She said that in school they spend a lot of time learning about the Second World War, and the history of their country. As a result, she thinks that many young Germans struggle to come to terms with this as their families are linked to the war, and many come to Israel to explore and learn more about their history. I found this fascinating, and it was certainly a perspective that I had never thought of before. We spoke more about dealing with the Holocaust, and why that is important. I deeply enjoyed it because it is a topic that you don’t normally have, or I don’t normally have with Germans, it’s more something that you try to ignore and forget about which we all know is not healthy. It was interesting talking about the comparison of Nazi Germany and anti-Semitism to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how we might view it.

We continued on to talk about religion; she was born in Turkey and her parents were Muslim. I explained why I was here and a little bit about the Baha’i Faith. Nobody seems to have heard of the Faith; I’m of course not having this conversation with Israelis. I’ve been finding the reaction from people quite interesting when I tell them I’m here on pilgrimage, for the most part they seem almost disappointed, and certainly don’t understand. I suppose it makes sense when all of the youth I have met so far are either atheist or agnostic, and they have a bit of a repulsion to organized religion.

Another shot of the view. These were tough shots, it’s always impossible to capture the scale. This shot is with a 15 second shutter speed, f/18, iso 200, 41 mm

Trying to capture the enormity.

I sat in the lobby for awhile this evening conversing with an Australian and a Finnish man, and a German girl. At some point I left to go find food, and they went to drink. When I came back I found them sitting on the roof drinking whiskey and smoking hookah, and having a pretty entertaining debates about things such as the comparison between Nazi Germany and the US, 9/11, Iraq, and so on.

Taxis waiting out by the Jaffa gate. 1/13 sec, f/7.1, iso 1600, 35 mm

Well, today was a lesson on why you should plan ahead, and why my figure it out as it goes strategy only works in moderation. In my defence, it’s awfully hard to plan ahead without understanding all of the variables, and when people give you terrible incomplete directions. Anyway, I won’t call it an aborted day, but rather a learning and scouting trip.

I made a slow start to the day, but in the later morning packed up all my gear (back into two bags instead of three for the first time since YVR). I searched out and finally found the tram (train) that goes from just outside the old city to the central bus station. This was still under construction last time I was here. From the bus station I took a bus to Masada. I hadn’t realized just how remote and isolated everything on the Dead Sea is. I guess that’s why the guy at the tours place told me that if I wasn’t going to take a tour I should at least rent a car. Upon arriving in Masada (about an hour and a half later) I stepped out into the warm dry heat. I loved it, it wasn’t sweltering and humid, but incredibly warm and dry. I was in the lowest place on earth. I walked over to the Masada Guest house which is also supposed to be a hostel, but is more of a luxury hotel, a fortress really. Unfortunately, quite unfortunately, it turned out that they were all full up for the night. This threw my plans for quite the spin. After sitting for a while and adding numbers, weighing my options, I decided to go back to Jerusalem and come back the next day with a rented car. (It was already late in the afternoon and not enough time to hike up to Masada and back in time to get the bus). So, here I am back in Jerusalem. I think I’ll stay here again tomorrow and then look into renting a car for the next day. It’ll work out to cost similar in the end, as the hostel I’m at here is putting me out 45 shekels a night ($12 CAD) and the hostels on the Dead Sea were all over 100 shekels.

The Temple Mount! 1/8 sec, f/9, iso 1600, 155 mm

My favourite scene of the day: after spending and hour or so wandering the empty and dimply lit streets of the old city (I stopped to take pictures), I finally found a falafel place that was open. I sat down at a booth against the wall lined with a mirror at the back of the shop. It allowed me to observe what was happening on the street and where the man was making falafel, without turning around. A couple came in; a Japanese girl and a middle eastern guy. After watching in confusion as they guy tried to say a few words to the owner, I first thought that he didn’t speak any English or Hebrew. Then when the girl began going over to the sign out front and pointing to what she wanted and signing, I realized that she must be deaf or mute. Watching them communicate with one another was the cutest thing. After the stall owner came out to look at the sign to see what they were pointing at, and some more silent interactions, he gave them each a flafel to eat while they waited for him to prepare their pita pockets. They made sure not to eat them at first but to use them to pose and take pictures of each other in front of the sign with the menu printed on it. Watching their expressions, their smiles, and their silent but understanding interaction was so heart warming. It was so peaceful, pure, and beautiful. It was only after observing for some them that I realized that I was looking at a mirror. Funny how that happens.

That’s the couple in the background there. Couldn’t resist.

Mute love under the Jerusalem streetlights.