Tel Aviv has bats. I didn’t know that until I went on a tour of the architecture of Tel Aviv (big surprise: it’s Bauhaus). This house in eclectic style from the 1900s had been recently redone, but if you looked closely, there was brown flecky things all over it. Apparently the bats just poop all over the sides of the buildings. And I saw them one night. They are fruit-eating bats, because there are fig trees all over Tel Aviv. I was so happy, I did a little dance and probably scared some of the natives. Here’s the bat-poop building.
Let’s cover Jerusalem. The problem with Jerusalem is that the entire city was built on top of itself over many centuries, so wherever you live is over a historical archaeological site. Apparently they had to move this building from one place to another, so they numbered every stone and moved it. You can see the numbers on the building.
A close-up of the numbers.
On our travels we passed several stations of the cross. You can rent a cross and carry it around all the stations. Here is a group of Filipinos carrying a cross and singing right near Station 5.
The sign outside Station 5.
You’ll notice something interesting about the ceramic sign that tells you you’re on the Via Dolorosa. When the British were in charge, they put up those ceramic signs all over Jerusalem, but they didn’t like the Jews and favored the Arabs, so the signs were only in English and Arabic. When the Jews got Israel, they copied the pre-existing style and added the Hebrew on top. You’ll see it’s in two parts, with the Hebrew add-on. Interesting nugget of information.
We also went to the Holy Sepulchre, which is the last three stations of the cross: where Jesus was crucified, where he was laid out and prepared for burial, and where he ascended to heaven. The area where his cross was in the ground, my goodness gracious, is it ornate. There’s like fifty lamps hanging from the ceiling and solid silver sculptures embedded with jewels and mosaics with gold tile, you have no idea. I have a picture, but it doesn’t really capture all of it. Gives you an idea, though.
While we’re covering Christianity, we also went to Nazareth. There’s a church there for Mary, Jesus’ mother. Story time: they were building this church and Pope-whoever-the-hell-it-was-at-the-time showed up and asked why there were all these holes in the cement. The architect told him the holes were to hold the marble slabs they were going to cover the walls with. Pope WTHIWATT said, “No, Mary would not want the walls covered with marble. She was a humble woman.” So the church has plain cement walls with holes drilled in them. No marble.
What the church does have is mosaics. And not just any mosaics. Mosaics done by a variety of countries representing Mary and Jesus as members of their race. Here’s the one from the Congo, which was my Mother’s favorite:
And here’s Japan, which was my favorite (seriously, it was gorgeous):
We went to the Jordan River. It was the slowest-moving river I have ever seen. It had catfish just swimming around in it, going nowhere in particular. They had the passage from the Bible mentioning the Jordan River on the wall.
Then they had it in thirty or so other languages. Now, I’m at a place with a great deal of meaning to many people, so I’m trying to be respectful, but the version translated in Hawaiian Pidgin had Cricket, my mother and I snorking innappropriately.
One final religious thing: We drove past Har Megiddo. In English it’s referred to Armegeddon, where the final battle will take place between God and Satan. Here’s a road sign.
When you see Har Megiddo, you expect it to be big and craggy and awe-inspiring, like the mountain from the end of Fantasia. In reality, it looks like this:
Huh. Kinda underwhelming for a battle that will involve angels with flaming swords. But I don’t make the rules. If that’s where God and Satan want to duke it out, fine by me. As long as it’s not near New York City, where I will most likely be.