Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Riding A Camel In Judea

Just returned from an exciting, enjoyable but tiring pilgrimage to Israel and Italy.  Being a history major and a history teacher in high school in my twenties, I finally was able to cross out some must see places in my bucket list. Was amazed at how structures (palaces, temples, roads, houses, aqueducts, churches) and works of artisanship and art created by man  from as long as 3,000 years ago are still preserved/restored to be seen and appreciated by us in the present.

I joined other Christian pilgrims visit biblical sites in Israel, mainly retracing Jesus life, from his birth in Bethlehem, his ministry of preaching and miracles in Galilee, Judea, Capernaum and Jerusalem, his crusifixion, death and resurrection. The Wailing Wall (which is a part of the old Temple of Jerusalem where Jesus also preached) in particular made quite an impression on me as Jews and Christians together touched the wall and prayed as one people.

It was quite an emotional experience , walking on the same grounds that were trodden by the feet of Jesus and his disciples, or ride a boat similar to the one during Jesus time in the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water.

The exclamation point was when I had a chance to ride a camel (with one hump, in Saudi Arabia camels have 2 humps I was told)  at the Judean Desert.  Nobody else among the 11 other pilgrims I was with dared to ride the camel, maybe because we were beside a cliff, and one wrong move could be the end of the pilgrimage for the rider and the camel. The thing is, it was just like riding a water buffalo, which I experienced doing when I was young with my cousins Amang and Abel in the farming village of Sto. Cristo,San Antonio, Nueva Ecija.

We flew safely to Rome just in time, because a day after,  rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas towards Israel rained the very places we toured.  Rome mesmerized me. I had goosebumps viewing the Coloseum, asking in wonderment how ancient Romans were able to build such massive structures mainly thru manual labor.  Like a child, I looked in awe at the great sculptures, paintings and architecture of Rome.  Also had a once in a lifetime experience of seeing Pope Benedict in person at the Vatican where he blessed us and all religious articles we brought to the papal audience.

Our last stop was more a more leisurely tour of Venice, where, we had an enjoyable time riding it's famous gondola, feasted on a seafood lunch with a glass of white wine outdoors by St. Mark's Square, and an afternoon of sightseeing, shopping and walking the streets of the  only car-less big city in the world. 

When things get more peaceful in Egypt, I would like to visit the country too and see the Great Pyramid.  Athen's Parthenon, India's Taj Mahal and China's Great Wall are also in my bucket list, the only reason preventing me from seeing these places - money.  So, have to save more.

Peace and love.


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