Pause 5
Jerusalem, 2000-05-29

Cairo- You wouldn't think it, but underneath the dirty and dull city, Cairo has a clean, cheap and under-used subway system. Forty cents to go anywhere. Cairo also has a Sainsbury's to satisfy the expats needs, and for those who are sick of Fuul and Ty'yamman. However, Cairo is pretty much deficient in everything else except aggressive cab drivers.

The Egyptian Museum is a stuffy old Museum of yesteryear, but Tuttenkahmen's mask makes it all worth while.

Giza- People can tell you that the Pyramids start where the city stops, and that it is desert after that, but that doesn't really make sense until you see it. There are these big crumbly pyramids, far larger and rougher than the imagination suggests, and they are stuck in this desert. This desert that is far easier to imagine as being imported than to inderstand that the city was built on it. But like the Colliseum and the Acropolis, it is another sight that just beckons you to stare, and stare and stare and stare (for as long as the sun will let you.) I chose to go down into the smallest of the three big Pyramids, wishfully thinking that it would be cool deep under ground. Nope. The metre-and-a-half 45 degree diagonally downwards passage leads to a very very uncomfortably warm tomb. The thousands of tourists probably didn't help to keep the temperature down.

On how many days can you say that your biggest annoyance was camel touts?

Rafa- Woke up at 4am to catch the bus back to Israel. Slept most of the way to Rafah. Clearing Egyptian customs was easy enough, but then the bus just sat on the border. Right in the middle of no mans land with barbed-wire running off into the distance in both directions. I wasn' too happy about this since I was a little anxious to return to Israel. My once soggy passport caused the most trouble so far this time, but I got through. At this time, I am now trying to get my passport stamped, rather than avoiding it. My passport's purity was lost with Egyptian Visa from Tel Aviv, which I think that is a fairly obvious indicator that I have been to Israel.

Israeli women are remarkably beautiful, especially the ones that are employed at the border crossing. Maybe they are showing up other countries, just like Paris's appearent choice of employing young women to sweep the Champs Elysee, but not the rest of the city.

Tel Aviv- Back again, and I don't know why I like it here, but I do. The hostel's aren't great, although this one should be with its seaviews from the balcony, and Bob Dylan playing over the stereo. Everyone else has been here way to long, have jobs and the resolve to spend every free hour on the beach. A strong argument against the totally carefree lifestyle they seem to me.

Tiberias- I only stayed at Andy's Kibbutz for two nights, and luckily got to partake in all the fun without doing any of the work. It is a very cool place, and has many traces of former socialist states in it, most notably the subsidised bottles of Vodka (3 dollars). Andy said in his normal blunt way, "I love Kibbutz life, but I hate Israel." Israel seems like a very difficult place to live in.

Nazereth- Andy, two other volunteers and I visited this famous town, and didn't really find too much of note. Felafel and Beer became the order of the day. We did walk up to the church placed on the reputed site of Jesus' adolescent education. The guard wouldn't let us onto the grounds because the adjacent school was in session (Our most famous pupil is...). So the long walk up the hill was for not.

Ein Bokek/Dead Sea- The Dead Sea is cool because you float, but this novelty is good for about ten minutes, and then you notice how slimy it is, and the salty water starts to burn parts of your body after a while. Sensitive parts, that don't usually get much exposure to sunlight.

Eilat- Every Israeli boy or girl, once they turn eighteen are obliged to join the army. They are equipped with their own rifle and uniform (tight pants for girls) and, from all appearences, instructed to ride Egged Coaches up and down the country. For the bus ride down the IDF solider next to me casually lay his M16 across his lap and pointed at my knees. The clip was thankfully detached, as is standard protocol in Israel (not in Egypt), but I still had to get used to someone pointing a gun at me.

Eilat is horribly kitschy and touristy, but the Red Sea is a wonderful place to swim. The water is warm, but still refreshing.

Bethlehem- I would be hard pressed to say that it was worth fighting the crusades over, Jerusalem is much more grand, but it is still a famous town and a nice walk from the Old City.

Jerusalem- Last stop before the Airport, but this time the streets are filled with merchants and tourists. The souvenir vendors are less interested in me when there are all these lucrative tour groups about.