Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today we went to Bethlehem and went first to the Basilica of the Birth of Christ.  The last times I had gone there, the Armenians were having a very long service in the grotto.  This time a Franciscan was there, saying that the Grotto would be closed for an hour.  He said that a Mass was going to start.  I asked if we could attend and he allowed us to join a very small Spainsh speaking group.  It was really great to spend about 45 minutes in the place where Christ was born.  I'll always remember that time.  It was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  When we were finished the Armenians were ready to start, so we were really lucky.  We went to the other sights that I have mentioned before in Bethlehem.  If all of you could meet my Taxi Driver, Walid, your minds would all change about Palestinians.  He is the most gracious, kind person you could ever want to meet.  He is Catholic, belongs to the Nativity Church, father of 4 children. His wife is Armenian and speaks very highly of her.  I have met some of his family.  These are not the Palestinians portrayed by the Government or the Media.  I will see him for the last time on Tuesday, I'll get his picture for all of you.

In the Afternoon, we went to  Ein Karem.  This is the town where Mary visited Elizabeth while both of them were pregnant.  Also we went to the birthplace of St. John the Baptist.  It was a wonderful day.  Tomoorrow morning we leave for the Sea of Galilee Area.  They only have internet service in the lobby where we are staying, so I'm not taking my laptop.  I won't have a blog tomorrow but will resume when I return.
The pictures are of the market where the locals shop in Bethlehem.  I concentrated on the Meat Section because it is so unusual from our stores.  The meat hangs outside and people come and have certain cuts selected and cut while the animal hangs.  We think the pictures are of goats.  And the third picture is of some of the vegetables in the market.  I only took one picture but there are over 30 fruit stands with wonderful fruits for sale. Bon Appetite!