Friday, December 13, 2002

Why we wear comfortable shoes

Walking even one quarter of the Old City is exhausting. Not so much for the length of the trip, but its height. Up to the roof of this building; down three flights to the Roman foundations; across this alley and up and through these's like some crazy Escher drawing come to life. Betsy proved to be an amazing guide again, her enthusiasm moving us up and in and around a city that's been inhabited for thousands of years. I didn't even take many photographs; it's too big for a photo to do justice.

Part of what makes Jerusalem such a focal point of history is that so many of the people who moved in here just razed what came before, or used the foundations of years past to build upon. They'd just heave fallen (or pushed) stones out of a pile and reorganize them into a new building. But what a feeling, to stand in places which were not only covered 100 years ago, but covered by 40 feet of earth! We examined some drawings done of a dig around the Western Wall at the turn of the last century, and realized that we were looking up from four stories below where the workers in the drawing were sitting and eating lunch.

The oldest streets are so slick with thousands of years of traffic that walking in anything but soft shoes, leather sandals or boots is a risky thing to do. Of course, that makes it easier for the very friendly and (like I said) desperate store owners to catch up to you and show you the latest wonder from their shop. But today, we have a good excuse to move on; it's after one already, and things are closing down for the Sabbath.

And I mean closing down! Entire streets which were bustling with traffic and business when we arrived this morning are empty and shuttered. All over, people are waving for cabs with bags of shopping in their arms. We're exhausted; physically, mentally. We were going to get to Tel Aviv tonight, but we decided that one quiet night at "home" would do us both some good. We'll get a bottle of wine, maybe, if there's an open store on the way back, and just relax for a while and digest it all.

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