Saturday, March 28, 2009

Today I Rode a Camel

Not for very long mind you, and not out in the desert. But just for a couple minutes on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Old City. It was cool. It may not have been the highlight of the unnamed camel's life, but I enjoyed it.

For about 4 hours today, I had a cab driver take me around to a bunch of places I wouldn't have seen otherwise. Such as a bunch of places on the Mount of Olives and further out around Jerusalem. It was fine and the cost was reasonable, and at the end I had him drop me at the Israel Museum, where I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I will probably wander out to find something to eat, now that the Sabbath has ended (most of Jerusalem shuts down during the day), but am basically done with Jerusalem. I have enjoyed the experience of being here and much of what I have seen, and as often happens, will realize the wonderment of being here more so after my trip than while I'm actually on it. I'm sure I got tons of great photos and learned a little about a lot of things.

It would be unfair of me to say that I didn't like the people, as I didn't meet many, if any, real citizens of Jerusalem. But the people I did meet, from the taxi drivers I rode with, to a barrage of street vendors, was a constant stream of people trying to hit me up for money. And not taking "No, thank you" as an answer. Today, near the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, a guy kept trying to put an olive branch in my hand, not just out of kindness, but wanting money. I kept giving it back or resisting, and he kept saying that he could give me change. And he kept following me around. I finally had to scream "I don't want it" at him. Another guy, near the camel, kept trying to get me to buy a souvenir book of Jerusalem, to the point of following me back to (and nearly into) my taxi.

Even the 4-hour tour taxi driver, a guy named David who seemed nice and stuck to our set price, asked me if I wanted him to drive me to Eilat tomorrow, instead of having to take a public bus. His price was probably fair from his end, but was at least 4 times what I could really consider as making sense to me (especially as I already paid for the bus). I told David no, he tried a little negotiating, which is fine, but I still said no and explained it just wouldn't work. And he must have asked me about 50 more times. Seriously.

And the cab driver I had bring me back to the hotel after the Israel museum, told me that he wanted to take me for a cup of coffee and hear him play the lute. I have no idea if his intentions were exactly that, but I desperately wanted to get back and lie down. And I had to tell him no about 10 times, the last quite vehemently, before he finally just took me to the hotel.

As I referenced, when I look back at my photos and think about all I saw--though, and no offense to anyone, but all the "Jesus did this here, Mary did that here, Herod built this here, etc.," got a bit wearisome. Just give me a great jazz club, and I think I might be happier. Though the one place I read about, a joint called Yellow Submarine, has tonight an Israel songwriter with "complicated views on Israel and Israelis." I think I'll skip it--anyway, looking back I believe I'll remember Jerusalem fondly. Right now, perhaps not so much.

It's off to Eilat on the bus in the morning, and then Petra on Monday. Not sure about blogging possibilities, so I'll post when I can. I did learn that Ahava, a Dead Sea lotion manufacturer, took its name from the Hebrew word for love, so...

Shalom & Ahava,

No comments: