the holy land

“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled.”  -Muhammed

We knew we wanted to go somewhere in the Middle East for the last leg of our trip. After talking with a few people who had traveled to Iran, we educated ourselves a bit more on the country (discovering it’s not as scary as all the negative press), and decided this is where we wanted to go.  However, after waiting a couple months for a visa that did not end up being fruitful – we could wait no more and needed airfare to get home. We decided to pack up those hopes for now and go with plan B: Israel and Jordan.  It felt a bit strange picking between two countries that are arch enemies.   In hind sight, it was good timing to be in Israel and Jordan.  By the time we were flying back home there was conflict happening with three of its neighbors.

In the end we were pretty happy as we arrived into Tel Aviv, with the warm Mediterranean breeze and relaxed vibe.  We were feeling even better with our decision as we sipped wine, ate olives and drank fresh juice.

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We spent about a week in the spiritual center of Jerusalem and hopped over to Bethlehem on the West Bank.  I will not pretend to fully understand the complexity of the situation between Israel and Palestine.  Nor, do I feel like trying to weigh in on it. However, I have a greater appreciation for its complexity now than ever before.  We experienced some of the tension (which seems to be an ever-present part of life), but tried to keep in perspective the events which have led up to such hostile feelings. In the end the city has an amazing energy, a lot of people with deep faith and a rich history.  It seems to be a place that has condensed many of people’s most positive and negative traits all within a small territory.  It appears that no one is right and no one can truly win.

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Obligatory trip to the Dead Sea and the stronghold of Masada.

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Our last week was spent in Jordan where we visited the infamous Petra.  Jordanians are known for their hospitality and we were welcomed at every turn.  We enjoyed a few World Cup games while sipping tea, patroized the oldest bar in the world and Ezra was taught how to wear a keffiyeh.  It was a lovely conclusion to our 16 months of travel.

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some words of advice:

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