Jerusalem Trip on 9/11

The Gang

The Gang

Last weekend one of the other teachers and I took three of our students to Jerusalem.  This is a big deal because they aren’t actually allowed to go into Israel since they are Palestinians, but since they are under 16 it is easier to get them through the check point.  Here is what happened:

My teacher friend – Big Red – met me at the school and we hailed a taxi to go get one student.

Big Red Leading The Way

Big Red Leading The Way

She wasn’t ready – teenage girls!  We waited and she finally came upstairs then it was off to get the other two students in Beit Sahour.  When we finally got back to the first student’s house (her father was driving us to the check point), the taxi driver tried to get 60 shekels from me!  This is because we were speaking English and he thought he could rip us off!  But Super Dad came to the rescue and told the driver you can take 20 shekels or you can take nothing so the driver left with nothing!  It was awesome!

We finally make it to the checkpoint and met back up with Big Red who’d gone ahead of us to scope

Check Point

Check Point

things out.  Things being scoped where … interesting.  You see, it was Ramadan Friday (every three years every Muslim has to go pray at the Dome of the Rock) so it was PACKED!  We finally decided to just push our way through the pack to get to the check point.  The goal was to make the students look very American so Big Red took the passports from everyone (theirs don’t have VISAs) and act like we were clueless to our task.  We told the girls not to speak and to act like they didn’t know Arabic.  This was easier said than done!  Big Red led and I made sure all three girls stayed with him and weren’t touched by the men around us.  Once we made it through the mob we quickly were escorted by soldiers to the “right line for us.”  And very soon we were on Israeli soil.  The girls didn’t even realize we’d made it through.  : )

Once on the other side we had to find a taxi or bus to get us from the check point to our destination … the mall.  We walked and walked and walked and then stopped at a monastery to take pictures thus starting the taking of over 275 photos!  I told the girls, “Go

We Made It!

We Made It!

frolic around those rocks and I’ll take your picture!”  Only one frolicked but we got some great photos of them laughing and playing around.

We quickly got bored of the frolicking so we started walking again and finally flagged a taxi and convinced him to carry all 5 of us.  This was “fine” … until we were stopped by the police.  Oops.  They made Big Red get out and walk the rest of the way – only like 5-10 more minutes.  I took the girls on into the mall once we were dropped off and we met back up with Big Red in the food court.  McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut.  What “American” food did I want?  Still wish I’d have chosen Burger King!

After lunch we did the mall crawl.  Taking pictures throughout the trek.

One store didn’t like that we were trying on their hats, taking pictures, and singing along with the radio so we soon left there without

Hats!

Hats!

too much trouble.  You know, I didn’t want to have to bust some people up!

After walking for another couple hours, we were presented with our next challenge.  Shabbat.   That is the Jewish Sabbath.  It starts Friday at sunset and ends Saturday at sunset.  The stores were closing at 1 so everyone could get home before Shabbat started.  We also needed to go because the Jewish buses would soon stop and no Arab buses came to where we were.  So we decided to go to the old city next – if nothing else the Muslim quarter would be hopping with all the excess folks in the city to pray.

Big Red and I decided to keep our destination from the girls.  Heeheehee.  That makes anything more fun!  We even convinced one girl that we were going to Tel Aviv!  She was so disappointed when we arrived at the Damascus Gate!  We walked some more.  I do love walking!  We decided to take the kids to the roof of a school we knew where we could see an amazing view of Jerusalem.  On the way we were stopped by something extraordinarily beautiful.

It does exist here!

It does exist here!

Grass.

Lush green grass.  I couldn’t stop myself from running to it and laying face down in it!  It was heaven!  This caused the group to stop and even more pictures were taken.  Gotta love digital cameras.

When we finally left the grass I had to take one last look.  *sigh*

We made it to the school and the roof – but not without a lot of complaining about the walking and the stairs and the lack of information about the destination.  But when we finally got to the roof the girls Hellwere amazed by what they saw.

Big Red started telling them about the area including the Valley of Hinnom, right next to the school ,that used to be Gehenna.  AKA Hell.  So we started calling it hell and taking pictures of it … and ourselves and our shadows and … well you get the picture.  No pun intended.

We left the school then and went down into hell and … took more pictures!  And laughed and laughed and laughed some more.  It was ironic to be laughing so much in … hell.

Laughing in Hell

Laughing in Hell

We then caught a taxi back to the check point since the Arab buses were packed from the folks who were finished praying.  And since it was Ramadan the buses were rapidly diminishing because the drivers wanted to go home to eat!  The taxi again was okay with taking all 5 of us and we made it back to the check point without the interference of the police.

We then walked back to our side of the wall, took pictures of the wall, almost got shot by an Israeli

Graffiti on THE WALL

Graffiti on THE WALL

soldier for taking the wall photos, and finally walked back to the school.  Shortly after arriving, rides came to get kids and I went upstairs to crash.

It was a great day!

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