So it has been about a week and a half since we returned from Israel, and I have gotten back into the swing of things. However, I am happy to say that it is a "swing" with a renewed perspective and a refreshed attitude. I have meant for the last several days now to post the recaps of our first two days in Israel (since we did not have Internet there til the 3rd day-how appropriate, a 3rd day reference!). So, here it is, albeit a little late! This first entry is straight out of my journal from that first day:
As I write this, I am looking out over the sunrise on the Sea of Galilee. Our flight into Tel Aviv yesterday was uneventful, thankfully. We arrived as well rested as one can be from an overnight 12 hour flight, and hopped on a bus as a group with our driver, Nazih, and our tour guide, Rami. Rami is a Palestinian Christian (there aren't many of those-about 2% according to Rami) and Nazih is a Druze-a religion that is a mixture of beliefs, borrowing from several major religions.
Tel Aviv is a busy metropolitan center, with high rises, lots of people, and interstates-or I guess they would be called freeways here-that sprawl in every direction and make "stacks" like the one we have in Jackson. There are giant ads on the sides of buildings like in New York City (and in case you were wondering, that Harry Potter kid is popular EVERYWHERE. J.K. Rowling, you are a genius).
Once we rolled out of the city, the landscape began to change-from high rises and palm trees to abrupt hills and valleys. If you can imagine the topography of a place like Idaho, or parts of Montana even, but with a totally different soil and feel. The soil and hills are very rocky, with dried up grasses peeking out between the rocks. There are plenty of trees, but it looks almost unnatural for the lack of underbrush. Some trees are short and and their branches form shapes that are sort of "poofy", while some are tall and skinny and rise like spires toward the sky. Someone mentions that many of the trees are olive, and some are lemon.
We pass a sign that says Nazareth <-- , Tiberias -->. (You've gotta me kidding me?! Is this for real??). We come up on the Sea of Galilee just after sunset and arrive at our hotel, called Golan Hotel, which overlooks the Sea-which is actually a lake, FYI.
Today we are headed off to Cana and the River Jordan, among other places!
Here is a picture of that first sunrise on the Sea of Galilee:
So those were my reflections on those first few hours in the Holy Land!