Journey to the Holy Land – Day 26

November 18, 2010

Today was a relatively routine day with nothing of significance to use to practice my wit and wisdom.  Yes, I can hear the loud AWWWW!  However, I do want to report that I did my part to help the local economy by paying a visit to the Bethlehem Souvenir Shop—by far one of the nicest places to purchase gifts from the Holy Land.

I was particularly interested in finding a crèche that more closely resembled the cave in which Jesus was born.  I found an array of beautiful, hand-carved olive wood items from which to choose.  I also had the opportunity to stock up on many lotions and creams made from the Dead Sea Salt.  Of course, I couldn’t leave without a selection of ornaments and other small items made from olive wood as well.

This shop is located in the shadow of The Separation Wall which is the closest I was able to be to it during this journey.  Some of the pictures that I posted on Facebook were taken last year during my pilgrimage.  The man who was driving back to the office was kind enough to stop so I could look closely at the artistic graffiti that had been added since last year.  I realize that this was the same area of the wall where I took my pictures at that time.  It touched me just as deeply this time as it did the first time I saw it.  It is beyond my power to understand.

Turning to a different topic, as I was going through my pictures a few days ago I noticed that I had a large group of one particular subject, and I couldn’t figure out why I had not posted them.  Back through each blog entry I went to locate the day that I visited the Palestinian Heritage Center.  However, I could not locate any record of it. As I reviewed each day, I finally came to the conclusion that I had been there on October 30, the first Saturday that I was in Bethlehem and the same day that I attended the Olive Harvest Festival.

Just a few words about this local treasure.  I found out about its existence when I notice a framed advertising bulletin hanging on the wall in the Guest House.  It looked so interesting that I decided I must see it.  Since it appeared to be quite a distance, I trudged up the street (it seems no matter where I want to go it is always ‘up’) and hailed a taxi at the main cab stand.  It was a good thing that I had a map with me because the driver didn’t seem to know where it was even though I had a street address written in Arabic by my office co-worker.

After he made a few phone calls and I showed him the map, he said he knew where it was but he seemed to get lost again!  Here I do not know much about the town and I’m trying to direct him to the Center.  Finally, we found it and when I asked him how much the fare was, he said “You decide.”  Well, gee—I had no idea what a fair fare would be and I told him that so he said “30 shekels” which is slightly less than $10 American.  I paid it but wondered if it wasn’t a bit high but who was I to argue?  I found out later that it should have been 10-15 shekels!  I have since learned to negotiate the price BEFORE getting in the taxi.

The Palestinian Heritage Center was not what I was expecting.  I thought it would be a large museum.  Instead, upon entering, it appeared that I was in a retail store.  Further perusal revealed that the entire left side of the building was all Palestinian artifacts and the right side was devoted to the display of items for sale that were made by local artisans.

There was only one woman in the vicinity and she was arranging some lovely scarves so I approached her to ask if she could explain the antique cultural items to me.  She was happy to do so, and we had a lovely conversation while I learned about Palestinian history.

There were all kinds of items such as a wire basket for carrying fresh eggs, an iron which had a cavity for hot charcoals as a heating element, water jugs, a hookah for smoking, grinding wheels for beans and flour, and even a room set up as a typical living space under a fabric roof resembling a tent.

I was happy I made the effort to get there but decided that I could easily walk back to Manger Square.  I estimate that it was no more than two miles—mostly UPHILL of course!  It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the exercise.

In about 30 hours I will be heading to the airport.  While I don’t look forward to the arduous day on Saturday, I know that I can’t get home without going through the trip.

My blog postings are not finished yet so remember to check back in tomorrow.

Wishing you a peaceful rest.

Published in: on November 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

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