The Places

Bethlehem Souvenir shop
Basilica of Nativity
Shepherd’s field

A trip to the Holy Land won’t be complete without a visit to the birthplace of Jesus— The Star, Bethlehem, Nativity, sabsaban, manger– call it whatever. It is in Palestine.

*Tip Alert!
 Just after lunch, while waiting for the *CHURCHES to open (usually around 1-2pm), Said, our tour guide, opted that we while away time in a souvenir shop. Yes, he’s a tour guide for 11 years, he knows his tourists–always looking for that most coveted souvenir shop.

Graffiti activism. “When the sun rises, it rises for everyone.” “Build bridges, not walls.” Like those.

Good Shepherd’s Souvenir Shop

We were brought specifically here to help the dying community of Christians in the country. As ironic as it is the Holy Land (although not solely) for Christians, the actual practicing Christians are dwindling by numbers. To help the remaining ones survive, and hopefully propagate, the tour guides have vowed to bring consenting tourists particularly to this place of advocacy.

Of course, we didn’t mind.

Locally crafted nativity using authentic olive wood.

Souvenir vendor

This guy (pictured above) selling souvenirs outside our bus followed us all the way to this restaurant where we had lunch to bring more items. He sure did have quite a profit from our very pasalubong-oriented group.

Neutral water. Like water from other places are biased : ]

So after lunch and some hardcore souvenir buying (yes, some of us spent about a thousand dollars for souvenirs like there’s no coming back) we resumed the visita iglesia as planned.

To the Basilica of Nativity

 First stop was the Basilica of Nativity, the exact spot where the savior was born.

Co-tourists of various cultures

Inside the Basilica of Nativity

 I noticed how they adore hanging candle lamps inside the churches. I can imagine how awesome it looks when everything’s lit at night in a cold breeze with a soulful children’s choir singing Christmas carols in the background. Oh Christmas!

This picture was taken while waiting for our turn to enter that very narrow passageway to the nativity site itself. Different groups have aggregated waiting for the Basilica to open, hence the crowd build up.

Seeing this photo of Muslims visiting the birth site of Jesus may come off as a shock or questions-inducing. But as I learned from Rahid, the Jordanian tour guide, Christians and Muslims actually somehow believe in the same things, except for some. Muslims also believe in Jesus, even allotting a chapter in the Qur’an entitled Jesus, not just his being the son of God part. For them, He is a prophet.

It was actually a refreshing experience to see diversity and fusion at the same time. It makes the world more humane, more harmonious.

The Star. The Birth place of Jesus

The Star is the exact spot where Jesus was born. It was preserved in an altar-like, tiny square space, 2 people can barely fit to kneel in front and touch its surface.

It’s awesome to actually be in a place that you only hear in songs and stories.

Reverence.

Street peddlers we were cautioned not to give in to no matter how cheap they seem to sell the items.

*Tip Alert!

*Be cautious of street peddlers offering bargains at a to-die-for rates. Low quality and fakery alert!

Palestinian alley. Just like a movie scene

(Quick street shot) Stars & Bucks Cafe. Whatup?! I’ll build my own Mc & Donalds, then.

Bethlehem has always been a holy place for me. This sure did make it less holy for me.  : ]
And then we sang in chorus.
Shepherd’s Field.

The Shepherd’s Field is the scene where the Angel of the Lord visited the shepherds and informed them of Jesus’ birth

The cave within the Shepherd’s field
Way out.