Trip of a Lifetime: The Plan and the First Day

Mentioning to a friend I am going to work in Gaza, a plan was set. W is working and living in Europe making it easy for him to plan the trip, it has a direct flight from his place to Tel Aviv and being Filipino, a visa was not going to be a problem.

Days passed, we agreed on a month – the best time according to the guidebook to visiting Israel and the Holy Land, September! Wanting the trip to be more fun we invited two other friends from home. Unsure whether they will accept or not, W  and I proceeded with our plan.

As early as May the dates were set for the first week of September, in time for the Eid Al-Adha celebration. Not long after, the two other friends from the Philippines agreed to join us and started to look for cheap flights to here. Now we are four!

As the day of the “trip of a lifetime” approaches, more plans are set in motion – where to stay? How much is acceptable rent? Airbnb or hostel? And what will be the itinerary considering the time would be very short – 5 days! Until almost a week before the scheduled trip we haven’t made up our minds, but in the end, we settled for a hostel and tried to arrange our trip a la DIY.

The holiday begins for me … 

I left Gaza via Erez on a Wednesday, before the weekend and will wait for my friends to arrive on Thursday from Philippines and Europe.

Since I am officially on holiday, I felt like I needed a little pampering, so I went to have my nails done and in a relaxed mode, received news that the two friends who started traveling from the Philippines the same day was stuck in Hongkong and was not being allowed to proceed to Beijing because of the airport traffic that could delay their flight to Tel Aviv to at least four days. Even if they can proceed they don’t have the transit visa for China to let them stay for more than 2 hours (and ridiculously if they do get to land in Beijing our planned holidays would be over by the time they arrive in Tel Aviv).

Disheartened, the trip must go on even if it was to go back to the original two-person trip. Luckily they managed to get another booking via Ethiopian air, but it means they lost 1 day of their holidays by arriving after midnight of Thursday (Friday) and spending unplanned cost just to get to see the Holy Land.

From 2 to 4 to 2 and back to 4

W arrived according to plan and prep the coming days while waiting for the other two to arrive later that night. We managed to see a little of the area where we live – walking down Jaffa street from Ha Davidka station to the Jaffa Gate and not to pre-empt the tour, we exited immediately to the New Gate and spent the rest of the afternoon over Middle Eastern cheese platter and beer at the Notre Dame restaurant overlooking the old city and all of Jerusalem city (and neighboring town if you know where to look).

Returning late, we continue waiting over wine and more cheese (European) in our room. A little past midnight the crews complete, and after a little chatter with stories of adventures from Hongkong to Ethiopia Adis Ababa to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport and lots of laughter we were all happily settled in our bunk beds getting ready for the day trip around the old city – Jerusalem at sunrise.

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(Photo courtesy of W) View from the Notre Dame restaurant, Jerualem (2016)

We are all looking forward to the trips from Friday till Tuesday to near and far, even though for me, this is my third time to be going to the holy sites in the Terra Sancta. I don’t mind because every time I am with a different company and with every visit, I discover new places, new things, new information and maybe new friends.

The holidays begins … finally!

For the meantime enjoy the photos.

And if you want to know more about Notre Dame click here!

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Afternoon Delight

Winter is already forgotten, the images in front of my house has been changing day after day since I arrived. Before I just marvel at the beauty of sunset everyday and I don’t see much happening down at the beach, the weather was still too cold to be hanging around and even attempting to go in the water.

Come May, the scene has transformed. More and more people are flocking in the beach, cabannas and makeshift resorts suddenly are there, while families pitch their own tents and taking a nice dip in the Mediterranean sea.

Summer is fast approaching.

The water is still cold,  the waves still changes and today it’s cloudy but it does not stop strings of people (and cars) coming to the beach across my hotel.

Too bad I can only marvel and enjoy what I see from a distance.

My afternoon would be incomplete without me sitting in my couch watching the sun set in the west while below my room, and across the streets are images of fun and family gatherings. Taking advantage of the warm afternoon sun and cool waters and let’s not forget bounty of food.

Include in the mix horses and camels walking up and down the beach.

 

 

The Calvary, The Tomb and The Resurrection

I had the opportunity to experience Holy Week at the Holiest of place in Jerusalem, at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre where the death, burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ all happened.

It is every Christians dream to be where it all happened and me having experienced that at the right time was something else.

More stories to follow …

 

Cockfight

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We stopped by one of the weekend markets we saw on our way back from Same via Ainaro to Dili in Timor Leste.

This man approached me and asked to have a photo with his prized possession – his fighting rooster!

You will meet all kinds of people in weekend markets, we even do our advocacy campaign in places like this because all the people from the different villages, behind and beyond the hills come down to sell the produce of their lands, sell cheap chinese goods and to bargain for their weekly supplies – rice, vegetables, root crops etc.

This is also a time for people without electricity to charge their phones and other electronic device for a fee or free using portable solar batteries.

Life is good when you take the time to meet people and you let them know you too.