May 20, 2011
around the holy land
we rented a car and spent a few days driving around this small yet interesting country. we drove through the dessert and also through completely cultivated lands. all the territories that used to be dessert not too long ago are today covered with numerous highways, train tracks and plantations of all kinds from potato to plantains and vineyards to sunflowers. they are all artificially irrigated and some covered in tents to create what we assumed to be a climatized environment.
we also visited many cities each with their big shopping malls and mac donald’s all around and of course old architecture and so many wonderful parks and sacred sites. we went to the north to haifa and akko and to the lebanese border. to the east to zefat and the sea of galilee south of the golan heights. we also visited nazareth and bethlehem, surprisingly to us a part of the palestine territories where israelis cannot cross, just as our rental car with Israeli plates was probably not allowed to cross as per our rental agreement but with which we somehow did cross.
we also went to the south to gaza or at least to the border to see the wall. the israelis call it a security wall and the palestinians the apartheid wall. to us it was definitely a very big and tall wall.
we also visited the dead sea to the east and had the mandatory bath in it. an amazing experience similar to nothing we have tried before. maybe astronauts experience this with no gravity in space. it was crazy to be floating completely effortless, even standing you can float and if you try to submerge yourself you will certainly fail at it.
it would have been a great idea for esteban to read the sign that advised not to submerge the head in the sea. turns out the salinity and minerals are so painful to your face that once he tried submerging his head he had to dart out of the water into the showers to relieve some of the pain in his eyes ears and nose. luckily it did not last long and we continued bathing in this exotic place. in total we had the car for five days, enough to see and enjoy a lot of israel.