Friday, June 29, 2007

Day 10: Blaaahh!! Rehab & Sabbath

Tianna's corresponding blog: (click here)

We allowed ourselves to sleep in this morning. I was still trying to get over whatever it was that that entirely destroyed me yesterday. We indeed took the scriptures literally and made the Sabbath a day of rest. We did awake in time to hike over the valley and up a hill to get to church on time. Its worth it, the Jerusalem center has to contain the most beautiful chapel in the entire church. The view ain't bad either. Big windows overlooking the Kidron Valley and the old city. It makes it so much harder to sleep during a Sunday talk when you are in that room. The whole center has beautiful and subtle decor that I found very photogenic. While Tianna updated her blog I wandered around the center and took some pictures.

On the left is an old olive oil press outside the center. On the second is another one used to build a fence. Let there be something said about quality in craftsmanship. Future generations just might think a little less of your creations if you don't do a good job in the first place. There is my random thought for this lovely Sabbath day.
And now we are back on the streets of Jerusalem. I could have spent my whole trip simply doing portraits of people from different religions. Anywhere else the eccentric dress that abounds would turn heads but in Jerusalem it could break your neck if you turned to see everyone.

This was the filthiest I ever saw a street in Jerusalem and thats saying something. There is no rhyme or reason for how streets will look in this town.
Case in point, right around the corner was a very orderly market.
(In Middle East terms obviously)
If anything else, Israel has some dang cool looking pop cans.
Tianna, do you have any closing thoughts?
I didn't think so.

P.S. I did feel quite a bit better by the end of the day.

Day 9: Blaaaahh!!

Tianna's corresponding blog: (click here)

The majority of the pictures I took today you will not see here. (And thats not saying much) So far on my blog I have only posted images from the digital camera. Anything that I shot with film will be posted a little later. Me and Tianna got up for sunrise this morning and hiked up to Orson Hyde Park. I shot a lot of images with my large format camera but none with my digital. By the time we made it back to our Hospice I knew that something was not quite right. Tianna didn't realize my dilemma until much later...after I couldn't/wouldn't leave my bed until well after 3 in the afternoon. Come to find out there was a 24 hour bug being passed around the Hospice. I had just spent a month battling bronchitis and my immune system was probably in no shape to handle any sort of bug let alone foreign ones. I was now officially initiated to international travel. Now you know why I have very few pictures for today. They were predominantly sunset pictures taken from the roof of the Ecce Homo Hospice. That's about as far as I dared to travel for today. I did get one other picture. It was of a tractor...and thats about all I have to say about that picture.

These are kites flying in the back ground. Flying kites is a very popular pastime here in Jerusalem.

Then we had some fireworks over the Al-Aska Mosque to close out the day.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Day 8: The Church of Mary Magdalene & the Ophel

Tianna's corresponding blog: (click here)

Today began by playing the part of the dutiful tourist. We decided to enrich the economy of the country in which we were visiting. It was time to buy some souvenirs. Actually we ended up only enriching the economy of one shop, Omar's. He is a Palestinian that has fell in love with the Mormon tourist. It was a weird experience walking into a Palestinian shop and seeing carved representations of Joseph Smith, Father Lehi, and the Liahona. Omar's real niche has been in selling Nativity scenes made out of olive wood. I decided to have one splurge souvenir and I figured why not be completely unoriginal and do what everyone else does. Besides, sometimes everyone else is right. Omar's nativities were quite beautiful and well crafted. While walking over to Omar's shop we went by the Jerusalem bus station. This spot is also well known for being the possible sight of Golgotha or Calvary, the spot where Christ was crucified. If this is in fact the spot were the crucifixion occurred I love the poetic irony of how it has changed. Now atop the crest of the skull is no longer the traditional cross but instead is a television antenna. Fitting I think since the TV holds much more allegiance in todays culture than Christ does. TV has gained its popularity through systematically killing off all that Christ taught and by crucifying him anew has now replaced him. I took the next picture with the intent of emailing it home to my mom and telling her that this was the hotel we were staying at. It didn't happen which I'm sure she is appreciative of.
We did finally make it the see the Russian Church of Mary Magdalene. This church is only open on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for a small period of time. I have been fascinated by the church from afar so I didn't want to miss seeing it up close. I wasn't disappointed, I think it is the most beautiful of the churches we have seen so far in Jerusalem. It definitely still has a Catholic flare but without being over the top like some of the others. It is quietly nestled up on the Mount of Olives above the Church of all Nations. Since it is open for such a short time I think it escapes most of the large tour groups which makes for a quieter environment.

Upon leaving the Church of Mary Magdalene we continued up a small road on the Mount of Olives which goes right by the Jewish Cemetery. I snuck in a few spots just to get a closer look. It is quite the location. We stopped at one more church only to realize that I had filled up all my memory cards. You can read Tianna's blog to hear about the adventure that followed.

These were a few friendly construction workers in the Kidron Valley.

The other tourist thing that we had scheduled for the day was to go visit the Ophel. The Ophel is an excavation site around the Temple Mount. These stones to the left show the markings that are typical of Herodian construction on the temple. The side of the stone that ends up on the outside of the wall has a simple design carved into the edge that goes around the outside. These stones used to be the upper portions of the wall around the temple. When the Romans destroyed the temple, they were under instruction to completely destroy all evidence of the temple so they pushed everything over the edge of the wall filling up the areas around the temple. The picture below shows an area that has been excavated down to the original street level. You can see the damage inflicted by the falling stones. You can also see the remains in the upper left hand corner of the picture of Robinson's Arch. Its a real shame that the Romans couldn't have left a few things intact. This arch is one of those things that I think would have been really cool to see. The corner of the wall is also known as the place where Satan tempted Christ and told him to throw himself from the corner of the temple. As you can see it would have been quite a fall. What you can't see is that the wall would have been even taller than it is now.

This was a Bat Mitzvah on the steps of the temple mount. (Jewish ceremony for girls instead of the Bar Mitzvah in case you were wondering. Don't worry I didn't know either.)

These were the original gates that led to the temple from the city of David. As you can see this is no longer a viable way to access the temple mount.

This last image was an ancient drain from the pool of Siloam. We went back to Abraham's Coin shop at the end of the Hezekiah's Tunnel hike. While walking in I saw this old drain in an area of the excavations. I thought it was quite ingenuitive and beautiful at the same time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Day 7: The Garden Tomb, Hezikiah's Tunnel, & Muslim Cemetery

Tianna's corresponding blog: (click here)

Once again we went back to the Garden Tomb. Even though this tomb is not considered a "traditional site" it feels like it has the most validity to me. The other aspect of the tomb that I am fond of is that it hasn't been plastered with all the decorations that you find in the other churches, you are free to contemplate the significance of the event much easier. Since we arrived at the garden so early I was able to notice a little detail that was previously overlooked. There is now a door to replace the stone that once blocked the tomb. On the door is a small plaque that reads: "He is not here for he is risen." On previous visits the door was always wide open and I always looked right past it. This sign provides a nice touch. It is a subtle reminder of what may have occurred in this location and the simplicity helped me contemplate the individual application of the event. My project image can be viewed by clicking here. It turned out well and still remains one of my favorites.

After leaving the quite of the tomb, the business of the old city seemed all the more apparent and I realized that I needed to try and capture the busy visual noise that exists in this city. So below is some more mood of Jerusalem images.

At one shop I experienced a dramatic double take. A BYU pendant. No other college knickknacks to speak of just that one pendant. There were a number of shops that were known to capitalize on the Mormon tourist but this was not one of them. A beautiful little beacon from home in the middle of souvenir and trinket hell.

This man sat with his camel at Jaffa gate offering rides. I passed but don't worry I have a camel story to share a little later.
This was one of the first days where the heat of the middle east was very obvious. We decided today would be a great day to venture over to Hezekiah's tunnel and play in the water while hiding from the heat. This tunnel was located in the City of David which is located outside of the current city wall for old Jerusalem, who knew. Those who have wondered how David was able to look onto another roof and see anything of importance while Bathsheba was bathing has obviously not been to the City of David. This city was tightly built on a steep hill with houses being built right up against each other. It would not have been hard to see more that you should have in an environment like this. In the image to the right the space is stretched out considerably. I used the equivalent of an 18mm lens to take this picture. This is like looking into a mirror in a car where you are warned that objects are much closer than they appear. This next image was taken from within Warren's Shaft, which is a separate tunnel then Hezekiah's.
This tunnel was built to access the water from the Gihon spring. This was the only spring in Jerusalem and was located outside the city walls. They needed a way to access their water during periods of war and this tunnel was their solution. I never cease to be amazed at ancient ingenuity.
The tunnel and water end at the pool of Siloam. This is the site were Christ healed the blind.
Unfortunately they have recently discovered that the pool of Siloam is in fact a little further away and much more elaborate. Here is an artist rendering of what the pool may have looked like based on the recent excavations. (Along with some pictures of the excavations.)

We emerged from the tunnels just in time to walk back home during my favorite light of the day, sunset. This first picture was of the moon rising over a Muslim settlement on the other side of the valley from the City of David.
We started walking back through the Kidron Valley and decided to take a little risk and go through the Muslim cemetery that lines the city wall. It provided a beautiful view of the Jewish cemetery while it was bathed in the waning sunlight.

Another picture of the Church of Mary Magdalene.

This is a picture of the Golden Gate/Gate of Repentance/or the Gate Beautiful. As you can see this is no longer a gate. (This is Middle Eastern spite at its best.) Jewish prophecy states that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through this gate. Obviously the Muslims do not believe in this prophecy so they could have simply ignored it. This solution was way too easy and lacking in spite and/or comedic value. So instead they block the gate up so that no one can enter it. Why stop there you may ask, and I'm glad you did as the Muslims did not stop there either. The Muslims learned that according to the Jews their Messiah would not be able to walk through a cemetery. So if you have ever wondered about the logic for the current location of the Muslim cemetery you now know. They are just daring the Jews to find a way for that prophecy to be fulfilled. Previously a professor from the BYU Center received permission to go down through some of the tombs and found another gate that was located lower than the one that we can now see. So apparently the Muslims owe a debt of gratitude to the Romans for pushing the remains of the temple over the wall and blocking the gate better than they could have done on their own. Despite the spiteful nature of the cemetery, it proved to be quite peaceful and relaxing. We only saw a couple of people and they appeared friendly to us trespassing Americans. Later on a Muslim named Omar (One of the guys who caters to the Mormon tourists, specifically in Olive Wood) told us that we were kind of dumb to go through there and that we should probably never do it again. Luckily we made it through alive and unscathed and have some fun pictures to show for it.
This was a sign at the entrance to the cemetery. It probably says something like "trespassing infidels will be shot on sight" or something like that. Again ignorance is bliss. (at least in retrospect)

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