Saturday, May 26, 2012

Holy Land Day 17: Shabbat in Jerusalem, May 26

We sleep in until 10. A group catches taxis to Old Jerusalem. We change money at a shop where W talks cameras and takes pictures of the proprietor and his friend. The man sells us a "Jerusalem cross" necklace at cost (doubtful) and postal stamps. I finally mail the postcards written in Petra more than a week ago.

Bedouin needlework
I love the wall hanging "made by Bedouin women" that hangs over a street. W haggles and it's mine. It is patchwork made from pieces of worn clothing, including the bodice of a dress. Later, in the hotel, I unroll it. Yup, I really like it, Bedouin or not. (Our guide has warned us that many of the "genuine Israel" goods are made in China.) I wanted one "art piece" and here it is. From China, India, or Israel? It beautifully captures the colors and memories of this trip.

Spices in the Old Jerusalem bazaar
The bazaar is filled with bakers, women sorting leaves and parsley, spice shops, and other goods. "Sometimes it smells really good; other times not," says W. I don't notice any bad smells but find myself inhaling sharply at the spice stores. I could make great curry with some of the ingredients!

About 1pm, we stop for lamb chops advertised at a good price. Except they don't have lamb chops. "Sorry." So we opt for lamb shishlik (kabobs) with W's muddy coffee and my unimpressive Lipton teabag enlivened with mint leaves. The plate of pita bread arrives first. About 40 minutes later, the main dish, complete with cucumber, cabbage, and tomato "salad" and thick-cut fries arrives. The meat is salty but delicious. We spend more than an hour sitting and eating our meal. I wonder if the cook ran up the hill to the butcher after we ordered.

Baked goods in the Old Jerusalem Bazaar
Beside the oven in the kitchen, an elderly man steadily inhales fumes from a shisha (a hookah pipe). He periodically wipes down the glass and stainless steel counter around his smoker. The decor is a tacky pseudo-European Italianate. Dusty crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling and the tables are covered with white polyester lace over red cloths. Arabic music videos stream from the monitor near the door. We are the only clients until 2pm when a few tables fill. We know they're gong to have tasty food.

We trek around the Christian and Muslim market (the Jewish quarter is closed), bargaining for this and that (very little we want) and admiring the wares on both sides of the streets. Pilgrim groups walk up the steps of the Via Dolorosa, singing "The Old Rugged Cross" and other hymns, passing the shopkeepers who line the alley. The singing may not be great, but the believers are devout.

We take Josh and Mike home with our taxi and are ready for a quiet evening. The sun's still shining and we begin to feel rested and ready to tackle the final full week in Jerusalem.

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