By Heather O.
We went there today. Or at least, through part of it. It’s the most direct route to the Sea of Galilee, which was our ultimate destination.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t know anything about the West Bank. At least, I didn’t know anything before we started planning our trip here. Basically, it’s the area nestled up next to Israel that is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. There is also a big wall that separates the West Bank from Israel. You can see the wall from parts of Jerusalem, and we live about a 5 minute drive from the barrier. I had no idea our neighborhood was so close until we drove through the checkpoints today, although coming back to Israel, the guard gave little more than a cursory glance at our passports (still closed—he didn’t even take them from my hand or ask me to open them) before he waved us through. I guess that’s the advantage of racial profiling? White Americans in a rental car don’t look very threatening?
This is the area that people mean when they talk about forming a Palestinian state. That, and Gaza, which is on the other side of Israel. The West Bank includes Jericho (which we drove by) and Bethlehem (which we are planning to visit on some Sunday–there is a group, not quite a branch, of Mormons that hold services there on Sundays, unlike in Israel/Jerusalem, where we have church on Saturday). I’m still not sure what to think about the political situation here. As best as I can tell, it’s, um, complicated.
Driving through the West Bank, I gotta say, there’s a lot of desert out there. A whole lot of nothing, for a long time. We did have to stop for a goat crossing the road, though, a straggler from a bigger herd that was well past the highway by the time we got there. That was pretty cool. We also saw a bad car accident, and stopped to buy a watermelon from a grim little roadside produce stand, but other than that, our trip was uneventful.
The landscape was serene, quiet, almost foreboding, like you didn’t want to break down anywhere there because it would be a long hot walk to a gas station. There wasn’t much traffic either. I was glad we didn’t try to get to Galilee in a bus, and I’m glad we had a full tank of gas before we left.
At first, the sea of Galilee was underwhelming, and I was pretty grumpy that we drove 3 hours to get to a place that looks like an upscale version of Venice Beach. The shore was rocky, too, although I’m not sure why I expected anything different. We found a public place to swim, though, and the kids and DH braved it. Is it awful to say that I only “waded” into the Sea of Galilee? That I was too cold to fully commit to a swim? Yes, it is awful, I know, but there you have it. And I think I’m okay with that.
But we left Tiberius (the first city we came to that is on the coast of the Sea, which is really just an awfully big lake), and drove higher up. We got to Capernum, a small, historical spot where ruins have been preserved to give you an idea of what things might have looked like in Christ’s time. It’s beautifully landscaped around the ruins, and it has a great view of the Sea. We also saw the spot where supposedly Christ appeared to the apostles after He had been resurrected, as well as the Mount of the Beatitudes, the alleged spot of the Sermon on the Mount. I gotta say, these outdoor Christian sites are lovely. Truly, you can imagine things happening there much easier than in the Old City, which is cool too, but a little crowded for quiet spiritual reflection.
I’d post pictures, but our computer is being grumpy, and so we haven’t been able to download any. And maybe you don’t care? I don’t know. Sometimes looking at other people’s vacation photos is like looking at other people’s baby photos. Cute, but ultimately, you just don’t really care.
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