Trip Start Nov 09, 2012
Trip End Nov 25, 2012

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Friday, November 16, 2012

There were rockets in Ashod so we didnt land there. There were riots in Bethlehem and a sign posted outside our ship this morning that read "In the interest of your safety please avoid going to Tel Avive" We rode to Ekko with dozens of teanagers with machine guns strapped to their back. We saw five tanks loaded on the back of semis heading south on the road out of Jerusalem. Our taxi driiver told us that order 8 had been called an all military was reporting for duty. The driver didnt think things were really that bad just that it was an election year and everyone wanted to look strong. He didnt care about politics. He just wanted to be left alone and have fun. I completely sympathize.

Crusaders Castle
It was a big deal that monks were taking up the sword. Most people didn't like the idea. But they hadn't lived here. Girls who look barely old enough to drive are decked out in camo and machine guns while they giggle at the bus stop. I keep expecting to see their mothers insist that they come inside. So the idea that monks would become militant while in Israel isn't all that surprising. The Hospitalars sect ran most of the fortress at Ekko. The citadel was built to insure a port for reinforcements. It had taken the first batch of crusaders years to get there overland and when thy got here they were too sick and tired to do much for a while. So this port was necessary to insure others could make the trip more smoothly. Just the same a large hall was used to care for pilgrims who were too sick to continue on. Built of mammoth stones it is completely dark except for slits to shoot out of. The city is riddled with tunnels that lead from the citadel out to the sea wall. These tunnels are damp and water runs beneath the wooden pathway through them. I can see the monks building more and more tunnels trying to hold the land that didn't want them. Standing on the sea wall it is hard to believe Ekko ever fell. It is so well built and defended by men who left everything they had to do so. But fall it did. The English eventually took the citadel and used it for imprisoning revolutionaries. Until they too lost it.

I want you to know my kids are amazing. Every morning that are woken up at 5 am dressed and tossed out into pretty stressful situations. They are dragged from one site to another and told to hold still and show respect. And they do. They are polite to waiters and respectful in churches. They are far better travelers than I was at their age. On our way from the citadel and to the crusader tunnels they saw a playground. It was made of bright clean red and blue plastic and stood anachronistic next to the ancient stone buildings that surrounded it. Like a time machine had dropped it there. "Please please please please....can we play?" So we did. They ran and yelled and were very loud. One little boy watched through a window until his mom pulled him away. It can't be easy to be a kid on a trip. Eden said today "I like the ice cream and the boat part but not really the rest" I get that. I always felt there were two types of travelers; the beach travelers and the museum travelers. One was hedonistic and one was sadistic. I was firmly in the sadist camp. But that doesn't mean my kids should want to be. They really don't understand time. Now is roughly the same as last year an that is certainly the same as ten years ago. And if you don't understand what old is and what it means you cant possibly understand why these old places matter. You couldn't see how it was a pivot point for the history you live in. Instead you just see a building and a bunch of stray cats your mom wont let you touch. Im floored by how well they have taken all of this. They are so much more mature then I thought they could be. Just the same I realized it was time for them to go play. The Sabat was coming on anyway so we returned to the ship and the kids ate from the buffet and got their faces panted like a butterfly and a tiger. They then played running games and learned circus tricks. Tomorrow we will go to Egypt an see 4000 year old civilization. And I fully expect they will be more excited to see the icecream when we get back. That is fine. I so love my little hedonists.
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