THE PLACES (continued..)

This day have a very long list of itinerary and we’re kind of rockstars for being able to finish them on time. Thanks to our very cooperative group who all wanted to make the most out of their Dinars and Dollars. We had members from 6 years old to 75, so that was kind of an accomplishment. We just didn’t want to take the cab just in case we got left behind. As we said, that cab fare is good for some more shopping. So we were all very obedient! : }

 

Via Dolorosa (The way of the cross/ The Passion of Christ), Holy Sepulchre, Calvary, Tomb of Christ
Kicking off the way of the cross with giant bread peddlers

Kicking off the way of the cross with giant bread peddlers

The narrow, dark path of the passion of Christ (now concretized of course)

The narrow, dark path of the passion of Christ (now concretized of course)

A sample station. 7th station of the cross. Jesus falls the second time.

A sample station. 7th station of the cross. Jesus falls the second time.

Each station of the cross was marked with a round metal thing with the station’s number carved on it.

Calvary (a.k.a Golgotha); The Rock of Calvary; The Holy Sepulchre (noun. a tomb, grave, or burial place)

Calvary (a.k.a Golgotha); The Rock of Calvary; The Holy Sepulchre (noun. a tomb, grave, or burial place)

(L-R, up-down: ) 11th station– Jesus is nailed to the cross; The hole where the arm goes is where the cross was raised; The Tomb of Christ (Holy Sepulchre); preserved remnants of the Rock of Calvary

The tower marking the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The tower marking the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Sun rising outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Sun rising outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

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Morning bread

Morning bread

I didn’t get the name of the bread but it kind of look like french bread slash pan de sal with a hefty price of $3! After the station of the cross was our buffet breakfast, so buying it didn’t appeal to us.

Church of Ascension
Church of Ascension. Where He rose from on the third day.

Church of Ascension. Where He rose from on the third day.

The last footprint of the Lord before He ascended to heaven

The last footprint of the Lord before He ascended to heaven

For a minute, it became a guessing game, which exactly was the footprint. Can you guess?

Overlooking the city from the way to the Mount of Olives

Overlooking the city from the way to the Mount of Olives

Mount of Olives, Church of Pater Noster (Our Lord’s Prayer)
The Church of Pater Noster. (Our Lord's Prayer)

The Church of Pater Noster. (Our Lord’s Prayer)

The walls are covered with the Lord’s Prayer in different languages.

The Church of Pater Noster interior

The Church of Pater Noster interior

The rose. Church of Pater Noster

The rose. Church of Pater Noster

The moment I stepped foot on this place, I cluelessly thought this was the garden of Gethsemane. A garden with beautifully maintained flora welcomed our curious eyes. We actually took some time posing with the flowers thinking those were all there is to the place. Of course, we were wrong. We were summoned to move forward.

It was actually a lucky day for us that we were granted entry into the church which was usually closed at that time. If I heard it right, a Filipino priest was serving in the church, so we were welcomed with open arms.

The whole place was surrounded on its walls with Our Lord's Prayer in different languages of the world.

The whole place was surrounded on its walls with Our Lord’s Prayer in different languages of the world.

Five (or 6?) of the languages (more politically correct, dialects), were of the Philippines’.

  • Tagalog
  • Cebuano/visayan
  • Pampango
  • Bicolano
  • Ilonggo
  • Ilokano (I didn’t see this one, but they said, there was.)
Jewish Cemetery, Kidron Valley- Necropolis, Dominus Flevit
Jewish Cemetery. The largest in the world.

Jewish Cemetery. The largest in the world.

It was told that the Jews prefer to be buried in this sacred place to be laid to rest with the most holy in the Jewish community. They believe that most of the key characters in Judaism are buried in this cemetery.

We were “fortunate” because there was an ongoing burial when we get to the area, hence the people and the commotion in the picture.

Kidron Valley Necropolis (noun. a prehistoric burial ground)

Kidron Valley Necropolis (noun. a prehistoric burial ground)

The “boxes” just made sense the moment I figured out what a necropolis is. Yes, I can’t imagine how the body fit, too. The bones, at least. Well, ashes, maybe? : ]

Dominus Flevit. Where Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

Dominus Flevit. Where Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

Because of the history of this place, the church was built with a shape of a tear.

St John the Baptist- Ein Karem, Sanctuary of Bethany, Church of Lazarus, Mount of Temptation, Sycamore Tree, River Jordan
Church of St John the Baptist

Church of St John the Baptist

A Fransciscan father tending the garden at the Sactuary of Bethany

A Fransciscan father tending the garden at the Sactuary of Bethany

Church of Lazarus

Church of Lazarus

Mount of Temptation

Mount of Temptation

The Sycamore Tree

The Sycamore Tree

This is the same tree that Zacharias, the greedy tax collector, climbed to see for himself Jesus in flesh. He had to climb because he was too short to see over a building crowd. Jesus then looked up to him and asked him to come down to tell him that He wanted to stay at his home.

River Jordan. Where Jesus was baptized by John the baptist.

River Jordan. Where Jesus was baptized by John the baptist.

View from Leonardo Hotel Jerusalem

View from Leonardo Hotel Jerusalem

Stop-over at the Sea level before going to the border

Stop-over at the Sea level before going to the border

Beautifully crafted, don't you think?

Beautifully crafted, don’t you think?

Bohemian camel. : ]

Bohemian camel. : ]

The tour guide and his most touching farewell
We finished off all the items in Said’s itinerary which made him a very happy tour guide. He said, in his 11 years of guiding, he has never completed a tour according to his plan until our group happened. He thanked us for being most cooperative and being the happiest people ever.

His farewell speech touched my heart because you can sense that he wasn’t just throwing a usual tour guide farewell speech. You can sense sincerity in his thoughts and words.

His sincerity was even more impactful because he had presented himself right from the start as the man who was there just for the job of tour guiding, not for anything else. So he was stern, stoic, always serious, not an iota of humor, very information-overloading– that feeling when you get into a history class. He bombarded us with information right the first instance, without hi or any introduction– that was how all-business he was. He just didn’t give a damn! (I guess that’s what 11 years of non-stop guiding does to you)

Then gradually, I would like to believe that we were unconsciously acculturating him.

  • Out tour group was always smiling (just the way Filipinos naturally are) no matter how serious he was,
  • we were following his orders (we all wanted to maximize the experience by following the schedule),
  • we were very thankful at all points (for every information shared, tips recommended, safe driving, good food, for reminding us to hurry up and experience the place as wholly and quickly as possible, etc)
  • we were cracking jokes, laughing at the bus most of the time, and we weren’t afraid to make fun of him
  • resiliency, flexibility, adaptability– the Filipinos’ ways

Eventually, we saw him light up, smile often, respond to small talks, and started using our vernaculars to kiddingly summon us (“tara na, tara na!” <let’s go!> “Dali-dali!” <hurry!> in his thick Arabian accent). This will always crack us up!

Even Wael, our driver, started advocating for us eventually. He would fight other drivers on the road who were causing us delay; he would drive quickly, resorting to the shortest cut so we can make it on time; assist us and accommodate requests, when in the beginning he doesn’t give a damn as well. For them, we were just another tour group.

In the bus, when Said knew we were near the border, hence near parting, he started throwing the most heartfelt speech I’ve heard in a long time. We were happy customers and we believe we have developed a friendship with a stranger. He mentioned how his wife noticed how fresh he is coming home, not looking tired, when for 11 years he would always have to raise his legs to rest and relax.

It was kind of a very happy compliment— that only meant we were easy to work with, light, happy, fun. You only come home fresh from work when you spent the day with happy people.

For us, we were just happy to be chosen to go the Holy Land, of all the people who wanted, but cannot, for whatever restricting reasons. Everything else was just a bonus. I guess that mind set radiated to whoever we came across with in that trip.

Honestly, I didn’t think I was going on a pilgrimage. I went there bringing my adventurous self, my stylish outfits, and my camera. I just knew I was going to a different country, traveling, experiencing a different place, a different culture.
Just when the travel agent said, that we shall not come home empty handed, spiritually find the answer why we were chosen to be here, that’s the only time I thought, well , yeah, might as well make this not just another trip.
I spent loads of my savings on this trip with no regrets. I would actually love to come back and hit on the other side of the Holy land, the more fun side, that is. : ]

Splurge on experience, not on properties.