Saturday, September 05, 2009

Jerusalem to Nazareth (Sept. 1)

We picked up our rental car early in the morning and packed up to head to Nazareth. Rachel behaved horrendously all morning. I was trying to get things ready to go and she was clinging to me and crying; when we got in the car she continued fussing and screaming whenever anyone so much as looked at her.

Eventually she fell into a fitful sleep. At least she was quiet.

Andrew planned a bit of a biblical tour for us on our way to Nazareth. Our first stop on our way, which was kind of out of our way, was Caesarea.

I navigated on the way there and only got us lost a couple of times. Driving in Israel isn’t too bad, really…not that I drive, but the traffic really isn’t that bad and most of the signs are in English as well as Hebrew and Arabic. Sometimes they are only in Hebrew, other times only in Hebrew and Arabic, but most of the important routes are marked in English and tourist destinations are very easy to find.

The minute I pulled Rachel from the car seat, I knew why she had been grumpy all morning. She had developed a high fever in the few hours we were driving and was absolutely miserable.

We decided to visit Caesarea anyway since they have water and restrooms, which our car didn’t.

Multimedia presentations seem to be the cool thing to do in Israel right now. Many tourist destinations have them; they really aren’t that neat or informative, although it is interesting to get the Jewish take on world history. We sat through the first half of the presentation, enjoying the air conditioning and cuddling Rachel, and then were taken up to the Artnova Gallery for the second half. When that was finished we had to walk through the art gallery to get to the exit.

The bathrooms were in the hall, so we stopped to use them.

I set Rachel down for a few minutes in a window sill since I was getting tired of carrying her. She didn’t want anyone else to carry her, so I was stuck with her…not that I mind, she’s just heavy. I was leaning against the sill, still cuddling her, when she started burping.

“Mommy! *Burp!* My tummy’s *burp* poppin’ *burp*!”

And then she threw up, drenching her shirt and skirt and splattering my shirt and pants as well. Luckily she missed the art.

I rushed her off to the bathroom and hollered for Andrew to help me. No one was around so he just came right on in and together we stood in the women’s bathroom in a deserted art gallery in Caesarea.

She threw up a second time in the sink, and so we rinsed it all down the drain, stripped off her clothes and washed those out in the sink as well.

We didn’t want to leave since we had already paid the entrance fee, so we carried her around for a bit wearing nothing but her underwear. We draped her wet t-shirt over her back so that she wouldn’t burn. It didn’t take long for us to realize that all of us staying was a ridiculous idea.

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Andrew took her back to the car and I continued through the park with Patrick and Joseph. I’m not sure who got the better end of the deal. Patrick was Mr. Humbug and woudn’t go see any of the Roman ruins. He said that seeing Roman ruins in Israel was lame and that if he had wanted to see Roman ruins he would have gone to Rome, which is on his list of places to visit, anyway. He doesn’t want to spoil any surprises Rome might hold and thought that spending money to get into Caesarea was a waste of money. He was such a grump that I could hardly stand to look at him; he scowled the whole time we were there.

Joseph, on the other hand, wanted to see everything. I had to keep reminding him that Rachel was sick and I needed to get back to her, we all needed to get back to her, so that we could get to Nazareth and get her taken care of.

I felt like the biggest nag, dragging one “child” through the park and trying to reign the other in so that we could make it to the exit.

20090905 - 013We walked through the Roman baths (well, Joseph and I did; Patrick wouldn’t set foot in them), saw the Hippodrome, and visited the Temple Dais, as well as the hall where Paul appealed to Caesar.

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Admittedly, it was a bit of a whirlwind tour and I would have liked to stay longer myself…but it just wasn’t practical given the circumstances. It was refreshing to be by the sea, but I think we all left with sour attitudes, anyway.

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It took me so long to herd those boys to the exit that Andrew and Rachel came back from the car to look for us. Patrick grumbled his way back to the car, Joseph almost turned to a pillar of salt he was longing to go back so badly, and I told Andrew I was ready to pull my hair out. Andrew just cranked the music up in the car and we spent a while sitting in silence until the mood dispelled.

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At least Andrew and Rachel were happy.

Rachel fell asleep minutes after we took off on our way to Megiddo, which is where John said the nations will assemble for the battle of Armageddon. The word Armageddon is actually derived from the name Megiddo, or vice versa.

We decided not to actually enter the park since all Rachel wanted to do was cuddle, but we did use the restrooms and randomly ran into Brother Emmet and the other BYU-Jerusalem Center professors who were also out touring before the students arrived. We also took a few snapshots from the top of the hill and picked some pomegranates…I’m not sure we were supposed to do that. I wasn’t exactly involved, though, since I was in the car cuddling Rachel.

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Fifteen minutes later and we found ourselves in Nazareth. We met up with Marie Jean, who we thought would be a nice, grandmotherly nun since she works at the Sisters of Nazareth Convent and her name is Marie Jean, which sounded kind of nun-ish to us. She’s not, though, but that’s okay because she also had a different idea about how we would be.

Marie Jean rented us her husband’s dead grandmother’s apartment, without permission--and really with express disproval—from his relatives, who happened to live in the apartments in the next few floors above our apartment.

The convent wants to start renting it out on a regular basis. The family doesn’t want this to happen, so we were given a cover story.

Marie Jean told her husband’s uncle that she visited us in America when we had our first baby and now we were visiting Israel and needed a place to stay. Turn about is fair play, after all, and Arabs are all about wusta.

The only problem was that she visited America in 1996. I hadn’t even met Andrew then. I was eleven years old and living in Canada still. He was only twelve. Somehow, though, we managed to have a baby in 1996 so that she could visit us and our new baby.

We decided to tweak the story so that Marie Jean visited my older sister to help her with her baby. That story really is believable because I did have a sister who was bearing children then and have a 12-year-old niece. I don’t think anyone really would have believed that Andrew and I were the parents of a 12-year-old. Besides, family is family, connections are connections, wusta is wusta. It doesn’t matter how remotely related you are or how many degrees of separation there are.

As far as her relatives were concerned, we were in. The uncle, who is the most opposed to using the apartment as a hostel of sorts, only ever smiled at us and went on his way. Another part of our cover story was that we didn’t speak a lick of Arabic; and he didn’t speak a lick of English so it worked out.

The apartment was wonderful. Mary Jean had stocked the fridge and pantry with fresh fruit and vegetables, cookies, cereal, milk, juice, bread, cheese, meat, and almost everything else imaginable. She borrowed a crib for Rachel to sleep in and set up hide-a-beds for Patrick and Joseph in the living room.

I sent Andrew and Patrick out to find a pharmacy soon after we arrived and just sat on the couch holding poor little Rachel. The pharmacy must have been really close to the house because they came back after what seemed like only a few minutes bearing medicine and, as an added bonus, a slushie (to help lower her fever and replenish her fluids, Andrew said). Rachel willingly took her medicine, drank about half a slushie, and then climbed off my lap and wandered into the bedroom.

“I want sleep mommy-daddy’s bed,” she said and then noticed there was a crib. “Ooh, my twib. I want sleep my twib.”

I got her set for a nap and lifted her into the crib where she slept and slept and slept the afternoon away.

The boys went back to the slushie place to take pictures of the car on the roof and get some slushies for everyone else. Mango-strawberry slushies. Best ever.

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  1. How embarrassing when my kids are pills!! Josie was a pill for you that day in California, and now Patrick was a pill for you in Israel. My face is red.

  2. I am going to pretend that maybe he was feeling sick, too, and that was why he was so grumpy...