Monday, March 19, 2018

Walking Where Jesus Walked - Part One

I haven't written anything the past two days because the schedule has just been crazy.  When we (Erin and I) landed at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, we were met by a driver who brought us to the hotel we were staying at.  We didn't arrive there until about 7:30 p.m. - the group that had flown from the US were just about to call it a night when we got there.  They were a pretty tired group.  Erin and I grabbed something to eat and also turned in - a full travel schedule was in store for us.

I don't really want to summarize each and every stop (and I'm guessing that you don't want me to do that either).  Erin has posted a nice photo collection of where we visited both Sunday and Monday (check them out here.)  But there are a couple of insights I'd like to share with you about this Holy Land where Jesus walked.

The first thing is this: I'm exhausted!  Both days our tour group has walked a great deal: from the tour bus to the location.  Around the location and back to the tour bus.  Six, seven times a day.  We are just two days into the tour and it's all I can do to stay on top of things.  Twenty years ago I had no difficulty keeping up - in fact, I recall watching some the older travelers back then who had their aches and pains - I am them today.  Of course the arthritic condition of both knees and my left hip has a great deal to say about how that works out.  Needless to say, this time, I'm touring the Holy Land almost like Tim Conway's old man walk.

Here's a second thing: we take the little things for granted in America when we travel abroad.  This isn't meant to belittle us, it's this - there is a stark difference in how the world operates vs how we do things in America.  Take power, for instance.  European and Middle Eastern countries operate on 220 v power outlets which have different prongs.  Our computer plugs and shavers and even Smart Phone chargers will not work in these unless you have an adapter and in some cases, a transformer that will allow the proper voltage to run your device.

I think I discovered the latter truth the hard way.  I was shaving this morning, using the power plug adapter.  It worked in Italy and I saw no reason that it wouldn't work in Israel.  I was almost done when my shaver began to make a high pitch noise and suddenly, without warning, just stopped.  I checked the plug in to make sure I hadn't somehow pulled it out accidentally.  Nope, this razor was done.  You have to understand, I've had my razor for over twenty years.  We've spent a lot of time shaping this face into what it is today.  I owe it a lot.  And now, it's over.  Done.  Just like that - in a foreign country at that.

Which leads me to the third thing I discovered today: not only are our power sources different, but so is our monetary scale.  In Israel, they use shekels. One shekel equals .29 on the U.S. dollar.  I told Vicki (our tour leader) that I needed to pick up some kind of razors to finish the trip.  Admittedly, I am challenged in the area of growing facial hair, but if left alone for a few days, I can get downright scruffy.  Our final stop today took us to a pharmacy in Tiberius - a couple of others on the tour needed a few items as well.  

Yes, I know the difference between the shekel and the dollar.  But I was having a moment when I began to look for razors.  The store looked like any pharmacy in America, except for the price tags and much of the language was designed for the average Israeli, not the average Joe from America (or even the average Daren).  I found several razors and realized I had no idea what was good and what wasn't.  Why isn't there some kind of guide for these things?  I've been using an electric razor all of my life.  What now?  

So I compared between the razors.  There were a couple of nice looking razors - I think they were the Cadillacs of the industry.  I had no idea what their features would or wouldn't do.  I just wanted something to shave the little facial hair that appears on my face in the morning.  So I chose the economy line - the Gillette Blue 3!  In this package, I would pay for eight and get two free!  What a deal!  So, I now have ten razors which should get me through anything I can "face" ahead.  I threw in some Edge foam and was a bit uncertain because the purchase rang up 49.80 in shekels.  It was hard to look at that and pay that amount, but I did.  I used my American plastic world Visa card and signed my life over.

Turns out, 49.80 in shekels is only $14.34 - not a bad deal to clean up every morning.  

One other thing I have been the most concerned about on my trip over here.  Not the plane ride.  Not possible terrorism.  Not pickpockets in market squares.  It's - you may have already guessed it - the food.  I'm just not that guy who is able to eat new things, try new things, not be concerned with what's in new things.  It's not me.  I told our group that if I don't know what's in something I'm not putting it in my mouth.  But amazingly enough, I'm not starving.  Each morning and evening our meal comes from an international smorgasbord put out by the location we are staying at.  It's really been quite good.  I start with some leafy greens and bread (bread is soooo good in Israel - you can't mess up bread!)  Then the main course usually has something that I can trust.  So this has been a pleasant surprise.

You may think I'm making something out of nothing when it comes to eating different foods, but consider this - I can barely get through a church potluck.  How am I ever going to survive eating stuff I am not sure of in a different land?  The short answer is - no worries, just stay basic.  If it looks like chicken, it might taste like chicken.  Rice is pretty universal.  And leafy greens and cabbage - well, I can handle that.

Perhaps the final observation is that it is a wonder to be able to walk in the places where Jesus and his disciples walked.  I have really enjoyed the experience and hopefully am learning more about this land and the special significance of Israel as God's Holy Land.  I'll have more to say on that coming up.

I got to get some rest - tomorrow comes early.  I'm told we're going to a place where you can get some of the best chocolate in the world.

Now we're talkin'!

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