Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

Church of the Holy Seplechure Entrance
Church of the Holy Seplechure Entrance

I’m in Jerusalem now having spent three days near the Dead Sea. I was able to visit Masada and finally got my chance to float in the waters of the Dead Sea. Let me just say that a Dead Sea float is one of the most overrated things I’ve done on my trip.

You float. On your back. That’s it. That is all you really can do. You can’t swim in any normal sense of the word. You can’t splash around. If you have any sort of cut or sore on your body, it is going to really sting. I cut my toe nails a few days before and I could really feel it. I had to walk for three hours the previous day with all my gear and had some sore spots on my feet. The spots were the sandals were chafing on my skin hurt as well. To top it off, I picked up a hunk of salt from the bottom and accidentally dropped it back into the water. A drop of water hit my left eye and my vision was blurry for about five minutes.

Getting to the water is difficult because there is no real beach. The water line keeps dropping so you have to climb down to get to the water. The water is so salty, it has an oily feel to it. I could literally see swirls in the water like you would see if there was oil. I filled up an empty Diet Coke bottle full of Dead Sea water and it is noticeably heavier than a bottle of normal water.

The bus ride from Ein Gedi to Jerusalem took 2 hours even though it is only a 70km trip. We went through the West Bank and must have stopped at six Jewish settlements. Granted, I was in a bus in the dark, but the West Bank seemed like the rest of Israel. I saw no evidence of Palestinians at all.

Today is Palm Sunday. I woke up and walked around and found the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where is believed Christ died and was buried. The church is jointly controlled by the Latin Patriarch (Catholics, in particular the Franciscans), Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox. The Latin service was ending as I went in and the Armenian service was starting. I couldn’t have picked a better week to be in Jerusalem. It is Holy Week and Passover is in a few days. Lots of pilgrims are here.

There is a lot to see in Jerusalem. All the small streets and alleys have a feel like nothing I’ve experiences so far. You see Jews and Arabs and monks and orthodox priests all walking around. Somehow, it sort of works.

Once again, I’m stuck without cash because the Wells Fargo system is down for several hours. Any system which requires several hours of downtime a week, isn’t a very good system.

Also, the previous contest is closed. I’ll be picking a winner today and I hope to find something interesting in Jerusalem to give away. I’m taking suggestions on prizes.

6 thoughts on “Palm Sunday in Jerusalem”

  1. I knew it! going to Ein Gedi / Dead Sea / Judean desert from Jerusalem, we had to pass through the West Bank!! My suspicions are recorded here. Thanks for shedding some light.
    I plucked my eyebrows 3 days before Dead Sea, and trust me, it was stinging while I was floating in the water!

  2. At least you can tell the tale of the stinging of the Dead Sea. Very cool that you’re in Jerusalem during Holy Week. Must be awesome, regardless of religious beliefs. Really glad to have tripped on your site…plan on living vicariously here. Keep up the good work!

  3. Hi Gary,

    Your post made my whole family laugh out loud. We’ve been following you – feeling quite envious of all your adventures. But this one made us feel a little better…. going all the way to the Dead Sea only to have it sting. LOL. Better travels tomorrow…. we’ll be watching! Kate

  4. I was in Israel during Holy Week 2006. The Holy Sepulcher has many sections that require a tour guide to explain. When you first walk in the building, the marble slab that people kiss and venerate was believed to be the rock that Jesus’ lifeless body rested upon his 3 days in the tomb. As you turn to your right, the nearly vertical staircase you’rre climbing leads to Calvary. This was where Jesus was crucified. As you come down, turning to your left, the area of the altar, there is a small entrance you must bend over to enter, this was where Jesus was entombed. If you go back to the Sepulcher slab continuing around the building, the long staircase down is where St Helena found the True Cross.

  5. Dear Gary,

    Wish you would visit nooks and corners of my country India. Love it or hate it, with its phenomenal diversity it would be extremely interesting and educative, one way or the other, for one who is out to see the diversity of humanity.
    Three years from now you would prove to be an outstanding professor on ‘People of the world’. I hope some leading universities will consider designing a doctoral course on this subject. I, though 70, would love to be the first student.

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