The only scary moment and some fears conquered
Trip Start Nov 05, 2010
7Trip End Nov 13, 2010
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Where I stayed
Holiday Inn Crown Plaza
In some areas. the Palestinians have farms which are well done using the unique Israeli farming methods, but the upkeep is lacking; tattered plastic is everywhere
Either the government there is incapable or just doesn't care, but either is really horrible for the people that live there. In many ways the area (and the government) reminds me of Detroit. Massive corruption for personal gain and the people suffer. It is completely believable that the Palestinians do not want peace, simply because it would mean living under the Palestinian government - who can blame them? We heard about the start of the Inetfada, during a time when both Israel and Palestine were prospering and cooperating, and that ended it. But it served the needs of the leadership (Arafat) well, and he didn't really care what the price was for his people. They have paid a huge price, which they keep paying willingly, which is somewhat confounding.
All this is in sharp contrast to Israeli Arabs, who have huge success and opportunity in Israel. The entire crop of vegetables in Israel is grown in the north in the Galilee area, by Arabs. The government agriculture ministry helps them like any other citizen, and they have thrived. They have no fences, their own towns and retain the land the owned when Israel began. They have great schools, attend university and study along side rest of the Israeli's. The only place we saw some "off" behavior was in Nazareth, where some Muslims wanted to put a mosque in front of the the Catholic Church of the Visitation, and make it bigger than the church (much of the town is Christian, which means they are also Arabs)
We passed Jericho, where Israeli's are not allowed to go by Israeli law - or suffer a 4,000 shekel fine. Apparently its quite expensive to have to go in and get them when they are taken hostage, so now its now banned. 25 years ago, when I was last here, Jericho was one of my favorite places. In that time, it is not improved, but sadly degraded. Very sad to see.
We exited the Palestinian area, passing through very simple security. People can come an go as they please, but are subject to search in order to leave if police determine its required.
The next stop was Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. It was very interesting to see the town that was at Qumran, now excavated. The cave is half way up a small hill. It was interesting that Jewish practice and texts have not changed at all, although interpretations have. The folks at Qumran were the people of the light, trying to preserve the old Jewish practice against the people of darkness, practicing a new Jewish way
Masada was the place I had to meet my daemon of high precipices; I hate them. We caught the last car up; I stared at the floor and Maggie, Peepa and Leon enjoyed the view. I resisted the urge at the top to crawl on my hands and knees to the gateway, the walkway was a perched ledge of scaffolding along the outside of the mountain top. Maggie found it amusing, but finally took pity on her mum and held my hand to the gate. The community that lived there was part of a flourishing town along a trade route stretching from Jerusalem in the West to Arabia and the Orient in the East. King Herrods summer palace was here but it was most famous for the great battle of Masada, where all the inhabitants committed suicide rather than be defeated by the Romans. One can see the Roman village to the East and the walk up they built, but interestingly, there were no bodies ever found in the area.
From Masada we went on to our Hotel at the Dead Sea. We dropped Leon at the Oasis hotel and then went to the Crown Plaza. It was here I had my only moment of fear. They had no parking places left and the security guards said we had to park down the street, except there were no parking places down the street. I dropped Peepa and Maggie off with the luggage and went to park the car. Finding no spaces, I returned to get my lap top from Maggie to look for another hotel. Parking in the main circle in front of the hotel, I went to get my lap top from Maggie, who was in the lobby with Peepa. One of the security guards informed my I could not park there (what a shock) - I told him I would only be one minute, that I needed to retrieve my my lap top from my daughter in the lobby
So there we were facing each other, at an impasse. I wanted my daughter and my laptop - he wanted to resolve some ego issues he apparently had about his diminutive size. It wasn't a good match up. I was unaware that he was carrying at the time, and in hind site it may not have changed much, but perhaps it would have. In any case, I stepped forward, as angry as I have been in years, and he stepped forward. He was speaking Russian to the other guard, who was explaining to him that I wanted by laptop from my daughter in the lobby. He didn't really care. I thought about slapping him with my Priority Club Ambassador Gold card, but somehow, it seemed really irrelevant at that moment. Once I knew he understood what I wanted and that it was only a minutes time, I moved to go around him. He moved with me.
So there we were, standing forehead to Adams apple, (my Adams apple, his forehead) and I told him to get out of my way - now. He said something in Russian, I made one more step forward and it was toe to toe - literally
After getting my lap top, I left, called Steve, and he tried to find us a new place - the area was sold out, but more importantly, he calmed me down. I really missed him then. I finally found a parking space and returned to the hotel on foot. My angry armed friend was not there, but the other one was. He apologized for his friend, but it was really unbelievable this all happened over less than one minutes time in the lobby. He suggested I speak with the head of security, which I did. In contrast, that man was very competent and calm. He offered all sorts of ways to make up for the incident, but I have always believed taking gifts over a complaint devalues the complaint, and this was serious. I sincerely hope they fire the guy - he should not be carrying a weapon and I will go on the record here saying he is going to seriously hurt or kill someone.
When Leon came down from his hotel, he had the folding bike. Since gorilla man was back, they too had a brief rude discussion, all without Leon knowing what had already happened with me. As we walked to dinner down the street, we exchanged stories and both agreed the fellow is trouble looking for a place to happen.
We ate dinner at a nice place down the street with an outdoor seating area. We lingered over the meal, having coffee and gelato afterwards and chatting. Maggie rode the bike around and it all ended as a good evening.