On to this journey in Northern District Israel where we experienced a lot of historical places form the bible.

The Batcave

Rimonim Hotel Nazareth

The third day of the trip was the first day of the pilgrimage in the Holy Land. Before we were sent off by our tour agent, who unfortunately wasn’t able to secure a visa for herself, she changed how I see her and made me cry.

Remember in day 1, she was just the strict principal for me for continually killing the joy out of very excited tourists. This day, as part of the farewell speech before parting in the border, she left us a very emotion-stirring note for reflection. May we not leave the Holy Land taking nothing with us but pictures, she said.

She told us to ask ourselves, “why did the Lord choose to bring me here out of the many?

Til now, this idea creates a certain commotion in my throat. It is a very powerful question, which warrants a very significant, life-changing answer as well. Since then, I paid attention.

Very early morning, we crossed the border between Jordan and Israel in Allenby crossing which interestingly leads to a “No Man’s Land”, an area which literally no particular state owns,  before officially reaching Israel. It was intense crossing that border which was manned by numerous young soldiers with weapons ready for war. (The war in Gaza is ongoing, thus the very much red alert status)

For the first time, I felt so glad crossing a country as a Filipino— we were let go as easy as 1,2,3, no fuss, just a very lenient inspection. A very different scenario goes for Arab visitors who I suppose are inspected strictly due to the ongoing conflict.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures as per briefing. Nobody dared. Stories of cameras confiscated or memory cards smashed/ wiped out were relayed to us, so we didn’t dare risk thousands of pictures in Jordan. We behaved.

THE PLACES

Tiberias, Sea of Galilee
First stop was lunch at the Fisherman’s Restaurant aptly named as it was fronting the Sea of Galilee. We had nothing else but a giant tilapia for lunch! The hungry Pinoys rummaged the food the Filipino way– with bare hands!
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The Experience I

After lunch, we lullabied the food down our stomachs boating in the Sea of Galilee! The proverbial sea where Jesus walked afloat! We had a priest in the group so we kidded him into trying to walk like Jesus and test the water, literally. We were bursting in laughter the entire 30-minute trip.

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Said, the iconic tour guide

Said, the iconic tour guide

This is Said, our new local tour guide. We left Rahid, the good-looking guide in Jordan. Yet again, first impressions apparently do not last with tour guides. The guy has a stern look, all historian-looking, very information overloading, all business, no fun. The first day at least.

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We (or they, I was in trance taking pictures) were dancing and singing to the beat of songs which language I can’t even recognize. It was just a happy boat, maybe one of the happiest 30 minutes of the entire trip. This was a turning point for the group, people just started singing and dancing together.

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There was a perky girl worker on board who suddenly formed this circle and started teaching them steps for a local dance.

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The Sea of Galilee (also known as Sea of Tiberias and Kinneret which comes from the Hebrew word for harp as the sea is shaped like a harp) where Jesus walked on

I learned that the “sea” of Galilee was actually a lake, surrounded by nine cities. Here Jesus spent most of his public life, did most of his teachings, and worked most of His miracles.

On the sea shore, Jesus called the apostles Peter, Andrew, and James; healed a leper, commanded the violent stormto be still, walked on the stormy water, and healed.

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Other tourists on the boat, the flag of which is suggestive of the nationality of the group. Before we sailed, we had some sort of flag raising ceremony, with the national anthem busting the sound system. We couldn’t be happier.

The tour bus with Wael on the mirror. We kidded him why our flag was not there hanging.

The tour bus with Wael on the mirror. We kidded him why our flag was not there hanging.

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Being in the Holy Land is an auditory feast. The college of linguistics is very much alive! Signage are multi-lingual and I can hear various incomprehensible conversations from tourists all over the world. I can only identify them sometimes by a representative word or two that I hear them say. Even that is not certain. :  ]

This pilgrimage meant more walking. So here we are, to the first historic church in the Holy Land.

Capernaum
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Capernaum is Jesus’ 2nd native city. He was from Nazareth but moved here since He was not understood in His own hometown and the first attempt on His life happened in Nazareth.

Capernaum was the home of St. Peter. It witnessed His goodness and omnipotence by many miracles.
Here in the synagogue:

  • Jesus taught
  • healed Peter’s mother-in-law
  • healed the centurion’s servant
  • palsied man when he was let down through the roof
  • raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead
  • healed two blind men
  • healed
The Capernaum Synagogue

The Capernaum Synagogue

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I say Italian tourists being lectured by their guide.

I say Italian tourists being lectured by their guide.

Stones with carved Jewish and Roman symbols from the 3rd century. THIRD CENTURY!

Stones with carved Jewish and Roman symbols from the 3rd century. THIRD CENTURY!

Olive Press. Very ancient. very pretty. very posh press.

Olive Press. Very ancient. very pretty. very posh press.

Apheus the son of Zebidah, the son of John made this column. May it be for him a blessing.

Apheus the son of Zebidah, the son of John made this column. May it be for him a blessing.

Tabgha (Heptapegon)
Tabgha comes from the Greek word Heptapegon meaning 7 springs. A place of abundant supply of water

Tabgha comes from the Greek word Heptapegon meaning 7 springs. A place of abundant supply of water

Tabgha (Heptapegon) means 7 springs. The site where Jesus fed 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish.

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Tabgha

Notice the prominence under the altar. On the stone which serves as the altar, there is a mosaic of a basket of loaves flanked by two fish.

Church of St. Peter’s Primacy
Church of St Peter's Primacy

Church of St Peter’s Primacy

Rear of the Primacy church

Rear of the Primacy church

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The Church of Primacy is built over a massive rock called the “Mensa Christi.” It is the traditional site where theRisen Lord appeared to His disciples, prepared breakfast for them and gave Peter the pastoral commission to “Feed my sheep”.

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Mount of Beautitudes
The Church of the beatitudes is where Jesus preached the sermon on the mount, uttered the immortal words of the beatitudes.
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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

See more pictures here.