We arrived in the Holy Land after a night of troubles and snow, that meant unexpected delays and changes of flights and airlines. A stopover in Monaco, the change between Lufthansa and ElAl, controls the endless checks, and the arrival in Tel Aviv in the middle of the Middle East night.
The pleasure of discovering a lively and crowded airport at any time, vibrant and efficient even at unthinkable hours.
We rented a car to reach the Dan Boutique Hotel in Jerusalem, where we had planned some important interviews during the morning and where the birds were singing when we arrived: sunrise could be seen on hills covered with olive trees, surrounded by walls of prayer and dynamite.
After three hours of sleep and a couple of meetings we throw the back pack on our shoulders, cameras around our necks, and met Youssef, a Palestinian taxi driver who guided us through the streets of Jerusalem and then in Palestine, as well as through checkpoints .
He was the man who realized the dream.
We dedicated the first day to the Wailing Wall and the Mount of Olives, the Holy Sepulchre and the Tomb of the Virgin, places without peace full of suggestions and rites, in an eternal imbalance between what should be and what instead is. The profound recall of spiritual symbols and ceremonies, clothes and songs, here are full of the strong tensions that comes from the incomprehensible divisions that plague these lands, or maybe all lands.
The next day we decided to move away from incense and crypts, and to finally put foot in Palestine: we were in need f sunshine, fresh air and ground, even if we had to face uniforms, weapons, controls, inspections.
We arrived in Bethlehem which is sand and azure, and we had the impression to walk an abandoned manger scene. We moved among stone streets, empty shops with shutters down: "Here tourists come by bus to the Nativity Basilica and then leave in a hurry because they’re afraid. Local crafts die, there is no work" explained Youssef to us, but here where the god of many decided to come into the world there is nothing that is not beauty and magic.
After buying souvenirs made of olive wood and ampoules filled with the Holy Land, having drunk a wonderful mint tea and greedily listened to the idioms of local people, full of polite and welcome expressions, we returned to the check-points.
"It 'Shabbat - Youssef told us - Jews are not around, so the soldiers apply more stringent controls to the people moving on the border"
When he pronounced the word "border" we would like to make him a thousand questions, especially about THAT wall that is worse than blasphemy and an insult to everybody, but we do not yet know how far we can go with our storyteller curiosity.
On the third day Youssef took us to Jericho, in the Jordan Valley and on the banks of the Dead Sea. After an enchanting stop to the Monastery of St. George and the Hisham's Palace, we made a ride on the back of a camel and had lunch in the restaurant at the foot of the Mount of Temptation. We ate together humus, lamb, fresh vegetables and lemonade, enjoying the great welcome of Palestine and its East Mediterranean flavors: the impeccable service and fresh food delivered daily from the surrounding countryside made the menu an exciting culinary experience .
When we got back to Jerusalem was already evening, and we drove immediately to the Shalom Hotel in Tel Aviv, the place where we spent our last night in Israel: Tel Aviv is a seaside town so far from the mood of soul and skin that our trip left in us that we decided to take refuge in the elegant snuggle of that hotel without being involved in the coast nightlife.
We wanted to go home without contaminating the strong thoughts that were born within us about the too many walls encountered during this trip.
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