I'm home! It is so great to see my kids and I look forward to Saturday when Craig returns from White Sands and I get to see him again!
On Tuesday morning in Jerusalem, we packed up and checked out of the hotel. I saw my final sunrise over Jerusalem (I will miss that view!). Then we went to ICCI for a text study with a Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholar. I imagined that they would take one text that we all hold in common and discuss it; however, instead they picked the topic of defining "others" and how we treat them and discussed various texts from their tradition that dealt with the issue. So the Jewish scholar used texts from the Mishnah and the Talmud as well as a few texts from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Christian (a Palestinian Anglican Priest) used New Testament Scriptures and the Muslim used the Koran.
After our study with them we had our final meal in Jerusalem followed by a bit of shopping then we headed to Tel Aviv. In Tel Aviv we also did a bit of shopping (due to all our purchases most of us had to buy an additional piece of luggage before we could leave). In Tel Aviv, I discovered that I had not missed humidity. As hot as we had been during the trip, the humidity was low so it was not uncomfortable. But in Tel Aviv, we remembered the difference humidity makes and we were all sweaty and uncomfortable within minutes of arriving.
Most of my view of Tel Aviv was through the window of our van. We did drive by the spot where Rabin was assassinated. They are recognizing the anniversary of his death. Then we drove to the shoreline and walked along the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Robin, Alice and I made sure to roll up our pants legs, take off our shoes and put our feet in it since neither Robin nor I had ever even seen the Mediterranean. Then we drove to Old Jaffa (Biblical name Joppa), where we saw some wonderful little art shops as well as two places which claim to be the site of Simon the Tanner's home where Peter had his vision. They also had a cute little statue of a whale as a reminder that Jonah set said from Jaffa.
Then we had our last supper in Israel at a fish restaurant in Tel Aviv that was not kosher so I had some of the best Calamari I've ever had in my life. By the time we finished our dinner it was 9 p.m. and we were just beginning our travels.
We went from the restaurant to the airport at Tel Aviv, said goodbye to our guide, and prepared to wait for a 4:30 a.m. flight to Amsterdam. So we "camped out" in a coffee shop until 1:30 when we began the process of getting through customs and such. Luckily, we had an escort to guide us through the process and so we completed most of it in about an hour and that was despite the fact that we all had been given a gift from Ahmed in Egypt that had to be removed from our luggage and checked to ensure it wasn't a bomb! All in all, Israeli security is very thorough and in many ways less stressful that U.S. security. For instance, we didn't have to remove shoes or liquids. But everything was thoroughly checked and when Alice left a bag seemingly unattended in the coffee shop, they were pretty quick to notice and to question.
From Tel Aviv, we flew to Amsterdam. Although I've decided I can't claim I've been there since I didn't even touch the ground (as opposed to Paris where we walked off the plane onto the ground) ;-D We had to go through another questioning and inspection in Amsterdam. Then we flew to Detroit where we went through U.S. Customs and yet another inspection. Then finally we flew home (only an hour late--the only delay in our flights in the entire trip!). My sister and her family picked me up and took me to Cracker Barrel for a very un-Kosher meal of bacon and biscuits and gravy and I was home by around 7:30 p.m.
Needless to say I'm tired! I'm downloading my pictures as we speak but I took so many that it said I would need over an hour to download them so hopefully, I'll have pictures to post soon!
It's good to be home!