I’ve certainly lost my rhythm, circadian and otherwise. Night is day; sleep is elusive; exhaustion eminent.
Separating wheat from chaff in the midst of such an abundant harvest of sights and sounds, people and politics, culture and chaos requires coherent thought; something I lack at the moment, along with a good eight hours of sleep.
But in my usual fashion, now that I’ve been there, done that, I have a wealth of travel tips and observations I just have to share when it comes to my Holy Land experience.
Bananas and oranges are a safe food option, although buying said fruit from street vendors can be risky; some have been known to plump their produce by injecting them with water.
Bottled water is readily available; just be sure your purchase includes an unbroken seal.
Getting from point A to point B is an art that defies most Westerners. The locals use the horn like Westerns use turn signals and brakes. Everything from rickshaws to tractors to SUVs share the road.
Many streets lack lane designations; traffic signals are few and far between as are pedestrian crosswalks. In fact, pedestrians were often simply another layer of traffic to add to the insanity.
Egypt’s Giza Pyramids will live up to all your expectations, despite the circus of vendors, peddlers, and beggars that come with the only Ancient Wonder of the original seven still standing.
That fervor was at times dizzying and frightening both inside and out the crenelated walls of Old Jerusalem, walls originally built by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538.
We had to cross into Palestine (minus our Jewish tour guide) to see Christ’s birthplace in Bethlehem.
Within those battlements of Old Jerusalem, I witnessed Jews praying at the Western Wall; a stone’s throw away, the golden Dome of the Rock commemorating the Prophet Muhammad’s mystical Night Journey glistened in the sun alongside the Al-aqsa mosque mentioned in the Quran.
We got our first taste of sabra during our border crossing from Jordan into Israel. Two hours into our ordeal, our tour group was losing the battle when it came to pushing and shoving our way through customs.
Waiters at our Tel Aviv hotel later that same day were brusque, to put it mildly. For a time we were all feeling the Ugly American with a target on our backs.
Beneath that prickly cultural Israeli façade are genuinely sincere and affable people, like the customs agent who took us under her wing and turned our losing battle into a diplomatic coup.
Ironically, the word saber, in Arabic, connotes patience and tenacity. Palestinians identify with the word sumud, which means steadfast or quiet resolve.
Tenacity and resolve is obviously the bedrock of these proud people, regardless the language they speak or God they worship. These are people whose heritage includes thousands of years of invasions, from the Romans to the Crusaders; all were determined to impose their will or drive those living there off the land. No wonder peace is still so elusive.
Our guide Sam was as delightful as he was charming, living up to the Bedouin tradition at the root of Jordanian hospitality.
Petra’s Al-khaznah (The Treasury) monument proved even more stunning in real life than on the screen. They'll be more to come on that antiquity and many others once I catch up on my sleep.