Well, I'm back from my journey to Jerusalem, Palestine, Cairo and Alexandria... and there are so many things to write about I scarcely know where to begin! Posts on the Israel/Palestine conflict, religious tensions, muddling through al-3amiya al-miSriya (the dialect of Arabic spoken in Egypt), haggling over cab rides (and even getting assaulted in one!) to follow.
This story had to come first.
Anne-Marie and I enjoyed our days in Jerusalem visiting with Terry and seeing all of the sites. We checked everything off my list, in spite of sandstorms, wind, my persistent cough, and site closings due to Shabbat. All that remained was the Dead Sea! We planned to head out early in the morning and stop off in Ein Gedi for two hours before continuing on our epic journey across the border into Egypt. We arrived in Ein Gedi, and it seemed the plan was going to come off without a hitch.
However--the beach was empty. Not a soul in sight, except for the brave folks on staff at the Ein Gedi canteen. AMA and I took it all in and discussed our plan of attack. "Well, no one else is here to go in the water today, but WE are!" Enter mean-spirited, cowboy hat-sporting ranger fellow. "Oh no, you're not either!", he sneered. "See that black flag up there? It means you can't go in. Ouch. Have a nice day." Ouch? Followed by "Have a nice day"? My dead sea dreams were dashed. I had not noticed the black flag. So what if the Dead Sea wasn't placid and flat as usual, the wind stirring up the sand and the surf? My shoulders slumped. I was so close to completing the Dead Sea float I could taste it... but it was not to be.
AMA could tell I was visibly disappointed, and we trudged down to the water with our luggage in tow, at least to get a closer look. AMA even took a faux "floating" pic, a great camera trick involving my leaning back on a rock. Almost as good as the real thing. We stared at that ominous black flag and shook our heads, our hair whipping around wildly.
But wait! A sort of lifeguard hut loomed above next to the black flag, and there seemed to be signs of life inside it. When you're on the verge of achieving your dream, sometimes obstacles arise... and you have to overcome them. We got the guards' attention, and I approached the window and asked sweetly... "Any chance that black flag will be coming down in the next hour or so?" And they replied, "Oh you can swim. Just be careful. And it's very cold."
I leaped for joy. Take that cowboy/ranger dude! The lifeguards from above had resurrected my Dead Sea dreams. Appropriate, given our location. I was so excited I started shedding my clothes on the beach (I had worn my bikini bottoms, but I needed to figure out a way to strategically put the top on underneath my shirt.). The lifeguards called out to us and kindly offered their hut as a changing room. Oh right, modesty. They had beer and some kind of PlayStation or Nintendo system in the front room and some American eagle knicknacks in the back room (and heat!). I rolled out of the hut and went on to complete my float, as you can see here: Dead Sea Float
The moral of the story? Matthew 7:7-12
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.