Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Sad Day

Today I leave Israel after having an incredible adventure here. However, it is time to return home to my Zion. I guess I have to work sometime. I hope that I am still needed at ZAC and Simply Birkenstock.

I leave for the airport today at 4 p.m. local time. My flight is not until 11:35 p.m. Once I leave the Ecce Homo Convent where I have been staying I have about 36 hours of travelling to look forward to. This morning I thought I had a tragedy to deal with. When checking in for my flight, my account said I was on STAND-BY for my Toronto to Las Vegas segment! I was in tears, as that is the last thing I wanted to deal with. However, upon calling the airline, I was informed that because it was still more than 24 hours before that flight departs, the status is listed as such. I think there has to be better wording than "stand-by" for such an instance. Stand-by does not conjure up good images for me.

I think a lot about whether or not I have changed while on this trip. I would like to think so. Perhaps the changes have been so incremental that I do not notice them. However, upon my return the changes will be blatantly obvious to everyone else. I hope that whatever changes have occurred will be for the best. I know at least that my face has changed. I had someone tell me that my face looked "heavy" in my passport photo.

Monday I hiked to the top of Mount Sinai in Egypt. That was crazy to say the least. It was so cold! Tuesday I visted Petra in Jordan. The pictures you might have seen absolutely do not do the area justice. I commented to the couple on the tour with me who had visited Zion that people back home will not believe that the pictures I have from Petra were actually from there. The landscape looked very much like Zion, almost uncanny in a way. I saw pictures of Wadi Rum, a canyon in the area, and it could have been the Narrows. However, I did notice that the people in the canyon did not have on the 5.10 Canyoneer shoes. So perhaps there is an untapped market for those.

The project for next week: Finally getting photos posted! I've had issues for Picassa for years for some reason. Also the computer in Nazareth was very slow.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dead Sea & Masada

I was able to go to the Dead Sea and Masada today! For 235 shekels cheaper than the tour would have been. This morning at breakfast I saw this lady from Jamaica I had spoken to a few times, and she asked how things were. I mentioned that I was bummed about the trip cancellation. It turned out that she and 5 others staying here had hired a taxi for the whole day to go to Masada, the Dead Sea, and Qumran. It was a great day. The Dead Sea is awesome. One floats exactly like the pictures show, but the water really can burn. I am glad things worked out as they did. I did, however, skip church to go. My bad.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Jerusalem has been an intense experience. I'm getting very tired of every shopkeeper harassing me to buy things from them. I have to take the long way around some of them to avoid them. Having blond hair in Israel makes one stand out. I think I have seen maybe a dozen Israelis with natural blonde hair since I arrived. One thing about Jerusalem I find really odd is that there are a lot of people here who speak American English. Why that is I am not sure. I was directed to the supposed best falafel in Jerusalem, and it did not disappoint. The french fries added to it were a bold and daring move.

Today I was supposed to go to the Dead Sea. 4 people were needed to run the trip, but 2 cancelled because of weather concerns. The weather turned out to be perfect, so I am not sure what they were worried about. I was not willing to pay double to go. Oh well. I now I have a reason to come back. That as well as canyoneering.

There is something about the Western Wall that keeps pulling me back there. I've been 4 times in 3 days. Being there at the start of Shabbot was something else all together. There were literally thousands there celebrating the start of another Sabboth, from conservative to ultra-Orthodox Jews. I watched the activites for over an hour and a half. There was singing, dancing, and a lot of praying. There was something mesmerizing and entralling about what was going on. I have a lot of questions regarding practices now, but thankfully I have Rabbi Lawrence I became acquainted with because of a ZAC trip that I can ask.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Last Post from Israel?

This might be my last post from Israel. I had planned to spend the day walking around Nazareth for some last pictures, but it has rained all day. Rain is the forcast for the entire country for the next couple of days, which should make sight seeing in Jerusalem fun.

Tomorrow morning I leave for Jerusalem, and my internet access becomes intermittent at best. I have a full schedule for the next 10 days and before I know it I will be back in Springdale. I really miss my red rock landscapes. I cannot wait for the moment when you reach the crest of the little hill in Arizona and can first see West Temple in Zion.

The schedule for the next ten days is as follows:

  • Tuesday: Free tour of Jerusalem
  • Wednesday: Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and the highly recommended Hezekiah's Tunnels
  • Thursday: To be determined
  • Friday: Masada and the Dead Sea
  • Saturday: BYU-Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives
  • Sunday: Travel to Eilat and the Rea Sea
  • Monday: St. Catherine's and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt
  • Tuesday: Petra in Jordan
  • Wednesday: Return to Jerusalem and Rampart's Walk
  • Thursday: Temple Mount, visit anything I missed, and head to the airport
I found out today that I will be returning to work earlier than I planned. I hope that I can get over jetlag in 48 hours. It is good though, as I have had 2 months off.

Pictures will be posted upon my return; there are a lot already and I will be going picture crazy in the next 10 days.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Spectrum Article

Here is the link for today's article in The Spectrum.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haifa Highlights

Today I visited Haifa again with an expatriate American couple from Orem, Utah. He is a visiting professor at the Technion, the leading technology school in Israel. After getting off at the wrong bus stop (my bad) and having to walk across the entire campus, we finally found each other. We visit Mount Carmel, which is important to Elijah's story. It reminded me of my Zion because we have a Mount Carmel as well about 30 minutes from Springdale, depending on the wait at the tunnel.

After Mount Carmel, we visit the Druze village. The Druze are a religious group in Israel, and they are rather secretive. After reading the Wikipedia entry on them, I am not much closer to understanding anything about them. They say they came from Moses' son Jethro.

After that it was back to Haifa. We visited the Bahai Gardens, a must for any Haifa visit. I cannot tell you the number of people who told me to visit there since I arrived. It did not disappoint. After the Gardens we headed to a cemetery in the German Colony of Haifa. It was cool. The falafel I had for lunch left a lot to be desired.

Tuesday I head to Jerusalem! I am very excited. I was going to stay at a hostel, but the reviews which were primarily awful, dissuaded me from staying there. Security did not seem to be a big concern there. There were also tales of management dodginess. So now I have a single room in a CONVENT in the Old City! I am very excited. How often does one get to stay in a convent in Jerusalem? Not often. My friend Kevin says that it does not have much of a nightlife. Well, it is a convent after all, and I was not expecting that in the least. Plus it is highly rated on Trip Advisor under the Jerusalem Specialty Lodging category. There is so much to do in Jerusalem I am not sure what to do and what not to do. However, I will be headed back to Jerusalem before I leave since I am not a fan of Tel Aviv.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Spectrum Article for January 10th

Here is the article for The Spectrum for this week!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Question: What do Retired People do in Israel?

Answer: They hang out at the Tiberias Hot Springs Spa in the mineral pools.

Tuesday I was there with some of the other volunteers, and we were the youngest people by about 30-40 years. It was weird. At one point I commented to Kevin, the other American volunteer, that I felt like I was at a retirement community in South Florida. He then said, "Don't you mean St. George?" It could have been that too, but we really do not have a large Jewish population in Southern Utah.

The entire day felt like it could have been a Seinfeld episode in some regard. Had Jerry's parents shown up, I would not have been surprised.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Just 3 Weeks Remain!

When I first arrived, I thought going home to Springdale would never arrive. 3 weeks from today I will be back in the States, to start working once again. But working sounds so harsh for what I do. The time I spend at Zion Adventure Company and Simply Birkenstock is more fun that anything. I get paid to spend time with people I love while have fun most of the time. I have not missed gear cleaning here at all.

Considering how small Israel is there is so much to see. There are some things that I will just have to do next time, like Rosh HaNikra and canyoneering. Oh well. Earlier this week the 4 young American expatriates in Israel from Church went on a two day sightseeing tour. We all got a long great and I loved seeing sites with people. Most of the time I am by myself. We did one day of Galilee area sights and another of Nazareth sights.

Just 10 days remain in Nazareth and Galilee, then it is off to Jerusalem and the southern part of the country! I am getting quite tan for which I am excited. My Chaco tan lines from my sandals are off to a great start for 2010!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Sad Day

My camera broke today. Well, to be honest it was already on life support after I dropped it on the sidewalk at the Christmas parade. But today it could not be revived, as the lense would not extend. Talking to the camera shop, it would have cost just about as much to repair as if I bought a new one. I had no choice but to buy a new one. Oh well. I guess I won't be going to Masada and the Dead Sea now, unless I want to ruin my budget.

This coupled with the rain on laundry day as made this not one of my better days here. But I will remain optimistic. I have 3 days of sightseeing ahead of me, consequently, a camera is vital.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sustainable Tourism Conference in Haifa

Today I attended a sustainable tourism conference at the University of Haifa. I would have gotten more out of it had more than 1 lecture been in English. (When I checked in the lady at the desk asked me why I was even there since I do not speak Hebrew). Oh well. However, the key note presenter is staying at the Fauzi Azar tonight, so I might get to speak with him directly. I'm networking! My MBA professors would be proud. I took a conference break to look at the museum next to the conference hall. Signage was in thankfully in English, and it was full of interesting artifacts from sites throughout the country.

I spent much of the conference weighing the pros and cons of the new housing opportunity in Springdale I have been offered. Considering the scarcity of housing, it is a great opportunity. Ultimately it comes down to money and finding a roommate to split the costs.

I've also decided that if I can successfully take public transportation in a country were I do not speak or read either of the main languages that I can use public transportation in the United States. Growing up in Minnesota there was a saying of sorts that says, "You know you are from Minnesota when you have no concept of public transportation."