February 11, 2015

Nazareth, Israel

. . . I walked around the cold, windy night in Haifa in search for a hotel. I stopped at a convenience store and bought a Red Bull and some candy bars (the first bite of food I had all day – thank you Israel). I then walked to a nearby hotel, but they were asking for eighty USD just for me to spend six hours sleeping in their bed. So, I left that hotel and walked on, I started walking along the highway to Nazareth, but ended up in an industrial area. I then stopped at a convenience store and talked to the clerk for a while through the window and exchange box (he couldn’t let anyone in his store between the hours of 23:00 and 06:00); he was a nice guy, gave me the bus schedule to Nazareth, and told me my best option would be to go back to the bus stop at the train station and wait it out – it was now past 01:30 and the first bus would depart at 06:00. I agreed that this was the best option, but hung around the convenience store for a while to let some rain pass through. Once the rain stopped, I thanked the clerk again, and walked back whence I came. I made it to the bus stop and it was now 02:30. I then sat there for the next three and a half hours, trying to shelter myself from the wind and intermittent rain fall; I also shivered much of the night. Finally, before day break and at the coldest hour, the bus arrived, I paid my fare, and climbed aboard. The bus journey lasted fifty minutes and I used that time to finally catch some sleep. The bus then arrived at Nazareth, near the Basilica of the Annunciation, and I walked out in to the morning light.

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead,
I just need some place where I can lay my head,
“Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”
He just grinned and shook my hand, “no” was all he said.

Nazareth had an old city feel (as it should) and was picturesque having been built in a hilly area; however, all the buildings did look fairly new, though constructed in a historic style. I then found my bearings and waked to a nearby hostel I had looked up on Booking.com. I walked through the old market (winding streets, mostly covered), which was now just waking up. I reached the hostel, pressed the buzzer several times, but received no answer. So, I walked to another hostel I had researched as Plan B; I reached this hostel in a short time, pressed the buzzer several times, but also received no answer – evidently everyone is still sleeping at 07:00. I then decided to walk back to my first choice and waited on the stone steps, pressing the buzzer every now and then. Eventually, the door opened, and I walked in – it was now just shy of 08:00. I then checked in with the friendly couple running the place, received my key and linen, and was shown to my dorm room in the adjacent building. I then slept on the couch in the living space for a short while, not wanting to disturb the other guests in the dorm room who were all still sleeping. After a short nap and after some guests had woken up, I entered in to the dorm room, made my bed, and then bundled up to get some more sleep (it was very cold here). I then slept for several hours, finally waking up at 14:30. I met one of the other guests, a German girl, and we talked for some time and she let me eat a strawberry of hers (my first real food in a long time!). I then got to work typing out the journal entries for yesterday and today (there was a lot to type out due to the events of the past twenty-four hours). While I was working on my laptop, it was raining most of the time outside and it was very cold, even within the hostel’s walls. Then, at 17:30, I walked outside (luckily it was not raining) and walked around the Old Town of Nazareth looking for a place to eat. I finally settled on a restaurant near Mary’s Well (one of three traditional locations of the Annunciation) and had a great feast of kebab balls made with ground beef and parsley with onions and hot tahini sauce, grilled eggplant stuffed with almonds and ground beef with tahini and cheese dressing, and Taybeh beer (a crisp and pleasant tasting beer brewed in Palestine). I then decided to treat myself to a dessert of French vanilla ice cream with date syrup, dates, and haleweh (also known as “halva”) – which tasted awesome. I then returned to the hostel, walking through the rain and seeking cover whenever possible. Just before reaching the hostel, I stopped at a local store and bought some apple juice to rehydrate. I then returned to my room, relaxed, read, and came up with a plan for tomorrow’s sight-seeing. I then went to sleep.

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An open journal or an exercise in narcissism.