Jerusalem, First Impressions

It’s evening and I am sitting in a ground floor apartment listening to the muezzin singing the evening call to pray over the loud-speaker. I am so thankful that he has a most splendid voice. I was not so lucky with the Buddhists in Sri Lanka who delivered singing sermons over loud-speakers.

I am pet sitting three cats in Jerusalem for a German-Israeli woman who rents this apartment from Arabs. It sits on the line between the Arab and Jewish communities. There is no physical boundary but it is obvious once it is pointed out. The Jewish buildings are drab and plain and the Arabians are a little more fancy. Both have lots of stray cats and garbage on the streets.

 

Tuti

Not only does she rent from them but she is good friends with them and their family. Almost every night when she walks Tuti, her min-pin, they stop and chat with the elderly uncle who can’t walk. The first wife usually brings out tea and they sit and discuss the neighborhood and life. The nephews will drop by, many live in the same building. They were afraid of Tuti when they moved in but now the uncle really loves her.

I have been introduced to everyone and they all assured me that if I need anything at all, not to hesitate to call or just drop by the uncle’s for tea. I would but not speaking Arab nor Hebrew leaves us with awkward silences. One of the nephews is arranging for a friend to take me to Bethlehem the first time to introduce me around.

I was here for 2 days with Elke and now 3 days on my own. I have roamed around every day, exploring and just trying to find things I need. It is very expensive here. I am bleeding money. I bought 4 mangos and 6 bananas and an ice cream bar $17 can. !!!!! Dang. But the wine is very good thank goodness!

I haven’t been to the old city but the rest of it is pretty dirty and grubby with little style. It is also the first time I have been in the Middle East and the landscape is so alien… there’s green but it still feels dry and brittle and the hills are covered in boulders and scrub brush. There is a lot of irrigation every where.

What I am struck by is how freaking normal everyone acts. I haven’t even seen a machine gun for goodness sake. There is security at the malls, one we went into actually went through our bags but most you just go through a metal detector. Arabs and Jews live, if not exactly together, side by side. They shop at each other’s stores. I imagine they don’t send their kids to each other’s schools though. The other night I was the only one who jumped when the fireworks went off.

These are the kitties I am sitting, Elke took Tuti with her to Germany.

I think when I go to Bethlehem I might see more evidence of conflict. I will let you know.

Stay tuned.

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