Holy of Holy Molies

Old City of Jerusalem

God definitely made me pay for being an atheist today. Not in a being-struck-by-lightening kind of way, but in a make-Jerusalem-as-inconvenient-as-possible kind of way. Somehow I spent most of the day walking against traffic, i.e. gaggles of tourists following their flag-waving guide through the narrow alleys of the Old City blocking the paths for everyone else. No matter which way I turned there was always an oncoming crowd, like this was Wolfenstein 3D and I was being cornered by legions of zombie soldiers.

Even the one time I managed to be going with the flow of traffic I had to turn around. I ran into a bunch of Chinese tourists (we’re everywhere!) who I’m guessing were some kind of religious tour group, because in the middle of the street for no particular reason they bursted into hymns and prayers. And I mean really for no particular reason; we weren’t next to a church or the site where Jesus was flogged or crucified or even the site where Jesus bought a really tasty felafel; we were next to the place where I wanted to buy a really tasty felafel! The problem was, being another Chinese person amidst a large group of Chinese people, I think everyone around assumed I was with them and so I had to immediately bolt the other way, lest someone revoke my gaytheist credentials.

Western Wall

The Old City was amazing though. It was exhilarating to be in the middle of a city holy to two of the world’s major religions and to a people that has persevered through millennia of persecution, a place where every stone is laced with untold history and permeated by faith, hope, fear, and awe. I stumbled on the Western Wall almost by accident so small is the Old City. Once inside the security check I was unsure if I was allowed to approach the wall, whose entire length was occupied by praying Jews. But after placing the paper kippa that’s freely available on my head I trotted over to the base of the wall and touched the stones that represented 3000 years of history. I understand how some people can get “Jerusalem Syndrome” here; the power of the history in this city is really palpable and I can only imagine the effect it has on the faithful.

Mount of Olives

Later on in the day I decided to head over to the Mount of Olives (the supposed site of Armageddon) to take some landscape shots of the Old City. After climbing through the old Jewish cemetary, I reached the summit where the view was indeed breathtaking. It was about 5:30PM when I got there, and I had the brilliant idea to wait for sunset so I could take pictures of the pink sky over the Dome of the Rock and the Old City. It was pretty chilly up there, but I toughed it out hoping the pictures would be worth it.

Old City Panorama

The bad signs started around 6PM, when clouds started rolling in from the West. I actually got some nice shots of the sunbeams poking through the clouds, but then I got my second punishment from the Almighty today. After waiting 1.5 hours at the top of the Mount of Olives the clouds took over and blocked whatever sunset there would have been… sigh. I guess you can’t ask for too much when trying to take pictures standing on the spot where Armageddon’s supposed to occur.

Sunset

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~ by therandomoracle on April 8, 2008.

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