The other piece of interesting news was that I took a vacation to Jordan and Israel/Palestine. It was a fascinating journey, especially because this time in Egypt has really been my first experience in the Middle East. My time in both Jordan and Palestine made me realize how truly unalike different parts of the Middle East are. I had a sort of presupposition that probably most Middle Eastern countries would be similar to Egypt, however that was simply not true. Jordan is truly an amazing country and is not only much more developed than Egypt, but also seems to just have a different way of thinking in general. Don’t get me wrong, I love Egypt and love living here, but it was an interesting discovery for me to see how I had developed a sort of prejudice about what Middle Eastern countries were like even though I had only been to one.
I toured around Jordan a bit and managed to see Petra which was incredible as well as some of the old Greco/Roman ruins. My time in Israel/Palestine was also incredible as I was able to be in Jerusalem for Easter and had a lovely sunrise service on the Mount of Olives. I also got to see Bethlehem and see what the West Bank was like and Tel Aviv also. It was amazing the differences between two places that are so close together.
Tel Aviv felt like Miami or something and it was clear that most people there had managed to put aside really any thought of the conflict that was so close to them. Bethlehem was a different matter. In Bethlehem they have become quite famous for their olive wood carvings, especially of the nativity. In recent carvings of the nativity, however, a lot of the local wood carvers have started putting up a wall between the members of Jesus’ family to show how the wall that is being built sometimes goes between two houses, both of which belong to the same family, effectively cutting the family in half. It was great being able to visit those historical sites though and see the places that I’ve so often read about in the Bible. It was nice to see town where Jesus was born, and the garden of Gesthemane. The best part of the experience, however, was definitely the sunrise service on the Mount of Olives.