Once we climbed back out of the Herod’s Palace underground museum excavation complex, Yuval said words to the effect of, “Who would like a nice ten or fifteen minute walk to meet up with Tzion?”
We were right near the would-have-been-appropriately-named Zion Gate, so we could have gone two minutes and met him. I was so weary by this stage there was nothing I wanted more than to get on the bus and come home. But there were a couple of murmurs of agreement, and so off we set through the Old City.
We finally emerged from the Zion Gate, without the benefit of being in this car, fully expecting to see Tzion waiting for us.
Jerusalem’s gates are made in a very tight L-shape as better protection from invaders. The only exception is Jaffa Gate, which was changed and widened in order to allow some Kaiser easier access in his car a couple of hundred years ago. He ended up walking through.
Anyway, instead of seeing our much-beloved bus waiting for us, we turned and continued walking along the wall…
… all the way to the Jaffa Gate!
And then down a steep and winding footpath, and back up the other side of the valley.
But we kept walking. And walking. At this point, I was counting it a success simply to put one foot in front of another.
I saw a Scottish Flag and thought I was hallucinating. I’m sure everyone else thought I was mad when I exclaimed, “A’ bhratach Albannach!” and started laughing.
“Here” turned out to be in a narrow gap between the Menachan Bigan (or something) Memorial Centre and “the Scottish Church”. Thanks, Yuval, I think you’ll find it’s pronounced “Presbyterian”.
The narrow gap with steep sides was actually quite interesting, because it housed some tombs dating to the very earliest days of the city, prior probably to the First Temple period.
Those little notches are for the heads; this tomb fits six. Each tomb would be owned by a single family, who would wrap the bodies and place them with their worldly possessions on the ledge until they decomposed, at which point they’d dump the body (and all the stuff) into the central pit.
A lot of interesting archaeological stuff was found in the central pits of these tombs, including the oldest piece of Hebrew writing thus far, which was actually the Aharonic Blessing (you know, “the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you…”).
This style of burial only went out around Jesus’ time, when belief in the Resurrection gained strength and people began to be side that they didn’t want to be resurrected with other relatives’ body parts because the bones had got mixed up. That’s when ossuaries (bone boxes – remember we saw them near the Dominus Flavit church this morning) were invented.
By this point, it was an hour after Yuval offered us a “nice ten or fifteen minute walk”, and some of the others were beginning to feel a bit tired and mutinous, as well. Someone asked if we could have Tzion pick us up from there, and Yuval reluctantly agreed.
After “a short walk” of five or ten minutes, we finally met up with Tzion and our yearned-for bus.
I’m pretty sure Yuval meant for us to walk all the way back to the hotel, because when we rounded the corner we could see that it was straight up the street about five minutes on the bus to get to the hotel. It wasn’t all that far, and ordinarily I might have been able to manage it, but at that point, a half-hour walk uphill was the last thing I wanted. I was beginning to feel sick and numb from exhaustion.
After all this, we were given the strongly-encouraged option of going to the Great Synagogue to “have a look at a real synagogue and a real Torah and a real mezuzah and a real shema”. I might be overstating that somewhat, but nevertheless, I abstained in favour of dragging myself into the hotel, up the lift, and down the long, long hallway to my room (I’m right at the end).
After collapsing onto the bed in utter exhaustion for a few moments, unable even to move, I got up to run myself a bath as hot as the pipes would allow, squeeze myself into the bath (perhaps I’ve lost weight) in an attempt to soak my weary bones, and instead flood the bathroom.
After remedying that situation as best I could with all three bathmats, the two towel-cloth dressing-gowns, and my towel, I retreated to my bed, where I made myself a cup of tea and a somewhat squished apple danish. Well, actually, one of the ladies in the group brought me the apple danish (much less squished at that point) during the lunch break, presumably because she felt sorry for me after that episode on the wall.
And then I sat down to chronicle my exhaustion for you.
Tomorrow starts at 7:45 with a long walk from the City of David to the Gihon Valley, through Hezekiah’s Tunnel to the Pool of Siloam via means climbing several staircases, all before about 11am. I’m strongly considering taking the morning off, and if I can’t convince Yuval to let Tzion pick me up before everyone heads to the Upper Room, I might even take the whole day off.
I probably won’t, though. I’m too chicken to ask something like that.
As I’m sitting here, a tradesman’s come to the door, speaking in Hebrew. I stuttered out “aniy lo ivrit” (I’m missing a verb there, somewhere) and he mumbled back something about “check” the “condition”. We’ve been having problems with the aircon, so I presume that’s what it’s about, but he just sort of stood on a ladder to look at the thermostat, asked, “Is good now?” I nodded, and he left. Who knows?
After dinner, I come back to add that I’ve spoken to Diane about sitting out of tomorrow morning, and she’ll get Tom to e-mail Yuval tonight. But we probably won’t hear back today. Nevertheless, we’ll see if I even make it down to breakfast to find out tomorrow.
I’ve begun to develop a bit of a wheezy, chesty cough (although mostly when I’m either cold or exerting myself, so now I’m sitting still in a finally-warm hotel room, I’m not coughing), and my foot really does quite hurt from where I turned it on the wall.
I’m going to sleep now.