Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Coffee Talk Companion: "The Yenta Tour: Get Off the Bus!"

Hang in there, guys. Israel's about to get a little hotter.

Anyway, this time in correct chronological order…

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Today was a leisurely day. Steve worked all day getting the convention office set up. The kids and I went to the hotel buffet for breakfast and encountered our first encounter with non-kosher. Not only was there not any bacon but there was no meat at all because they serve dairy for breakfast. We quickly got used to lots of fruit and cheese for breakfast.

Um. We think she means she encountered her first encounter with kosher. 'Cause if the buffet were non-kosher, she would have encountered her 36-millionth encounter with meat. Well, she had a 50-50 chance of getting that one right, right? The good news is that she stopped home-schooling the kids—they now have a 50-50 chance of getting it right, too. And by “it,” we mean “running away and never looking back.”

Later in the afternoon we went to the Jerusalem mall. The weirdest thing was the food just sitting out on counters. You could simply walk by and pick up a donut or handful of candy and pay for it. We chose KFC. It was also jarring to have to walk through metal detectors before entering in most of the public buildings.

Again, it’s really so nice to have Lisa back. First of all, it's been far too many months without "weird" as a popular adjective. It's been, you know, weird.

Second of all, who else would so proudly admit on her second day in Jerusalem (and not Jerusalem, Arkansas or Jerusalem, Ohio; THE Jerusalem) that she went to the fucking mall? And had fucking KFC? Listen, Tucker, Haven and Clancy, tell your mom that you need to go to the bathroom, and run downtown to Pinati for hummus and shish-kebabs. The truth is, kids, is that, just like Americans, Israelis don’t eat KFC.

Before dinner, Clancy and I went down to the hotel fitness center and took a resistance class. The instructor had to give all the directions in both English and Hebrew.

Well, you have to work off that KFC before going to Burger King for dinner, right? Jesus of Nazareth.

Steve joined us for dinner and we went into the city. It was a little disconcerting when the driver pointed down a street and told us that was where a car bomb had exploded.

How fun! A car-bomb tour of Jerusalem! In a car! In Jerusalem! We were kind of kidding before when we speculated that Steve desperately wanted out, but now we’re not laughing so much. At all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

We took an early bus ride to Tel Aviv where we met my brother, Justice, and his wife, Maria, who had just arrived the night before.

Yay, Justice! Boo, Maria! Tel, Aviv!

(Oooh. Justice looks fedorable! Now if he'd only get rid of the thing to his left.)

We also met our group for the first time. Somehow we got put on the European bus which we absolutely loved. Other than two other guys from Arizona, we were the only Americans. Everyone else was from Norway, Great Britain, Nigeria, Australia, Sweden and Ireland.

Ha. “Got put.” Come on. You know some prior-vacation-ruined-by-Whelchel American on the American bus recognized Lisa and was shrieked in horror, “Do not let that woman on this bus. She ruins everything. EVERYTHING!”

Our first stop was Herod’s Palace at Caesarea. Then we went to Mt. Carmel, the site where Elijah called down fire on the gods of Baal in a dual and God won. Next was overlooking the Valley of Jezreel/Armageddon. It was here that we began to get our first idea that we had really been blessed with an incredible tour guide.

You know, it’s one thing to hear people kind of just flippantly talk of Biblical events as being real. When this occurs, we can say to ourselves, Oh, that asshole is talking like he believes those events really happened, but, deep down, that asshole, of course, knows better.

It’s another thing entirely to hear someone seriously reference a place as being a site of one of those events. That’s just batshit crazy.

His name was Rami and he is a Messianic Jewish pastor. I can’t even begin to tell you all the incredible insights he brought to our tour. He made every stop come alive with fascinating history and excitement for the fulfillment of prophecy.

But did he provide an adequate answer to Lisa’s inquiry of "Why isn’t there a Chick-fil-A on Ben Yehuda Street?" Oh, and also an answer to our inquiry of "How can you be Jewish if you believe that Jesus was the messiah? Not that we care or anything, Rami, but, if you’re going to play the game, at least play it right, you know? We really hate a cheater."

We also went to Nazareth but it was so built up with homes that it was hard to imagine it as the little town where Jesus grew up. Our last stop was Mt. Precipice. This is supposedly the site where Jesus escaped stoning by slipping through the crowds but Rami said that he didn’t think this was the place where that actually happened. That is another thing we loved about Rami. He wasn’t afraid to tell us when tradition overlooked historical facts just so a church could be built there.

HISTORICAL FACTS?!?!?!?!? For the love of god, lady. What Rami is doing is what every religious noodnik, including yourself, has done for years upon years upon years: altering unprovable stories for his own personal financial benefit.

And we hope, for the sake of the entire European group, Lisa, you tipped Rami the poor guide well.