I'm on a Boat (Don't you Ever Forget)

Trip Start May 19, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
New Bond Hotel Blackpool
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
Mount Arbel
Boat Museum
Byzantine Shrine to the Feeding of the 4000

Flag of Israel  , Galilee,
Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Probably a little misrepresentative to make that my title, considering I was only on a boat for a while in the morning, but hush, I wanted it that way.

So last night was epic and involved water and suspiciously little swimming suit, and that's all I have to say about that.

Woke up this morning too tired to do my usual morning workout, so instead I just munched mad breakfast and got ready for our boat ride across the Sea of Galilee.  Yes The Lonely Island was much in our shared cognitive environment.  Buoys and mermaids aside, the ride was actually really incredible.  About half way over the captain cut the engines and we just drifted in silence for a little while, enjoying what it would have been like as a fisherman in Jesus' day, getting ready to head in from the early morning fishing.  Reinforcing this line of thought was our visit immediately upon docking:  we descended into the Boat Museum, which sounds somewhat crusty, and considering it has precisely one exhibit somewhat lame, but it was actually fascinating.  Two brothers were walking along the beach during a season of extreme drought and low water levels when they discovered, mostly buried in the sand, an old wooden boat.  What followed was an intense battle against the elements and time to unearth the waterlogged remains of a small fishing boat that had been preserved in the mud beneath the water line for, turns out, 2000 years; the design and Carbon 14 dating put it in the 1st century AD.  No I don't buy the museum's tantalizing mind candy that this could have been a boat used by Jesus, or by rebels in the 70 AD uprising, but that doesn't matter, because it gives some insight into what those boats would have been like, and it is a fascinating story in its own right.  The excavation and preservation process were complicated and interesting, but let me summarize this way:  if the boat's wood dried out, it would literally turn to dust, but you can't very well keep the boat in a tank on display and it was too unique a find not to display and study, so archaeologists needed a way to replace all the water in the wood with something, which turned out to be a special wax.  Process took 11 years, and the end result is pretty impressive.

Yes I worked in a museum last summer, let me geek out a little bit.  From this museum we bussed across the Plains of Ginesseret to Capernaum, where Jesus established his headquarters for much of his ministry.  Today's Capernaum is focused mostly around a huge, bizarre, futuristic church that is intended to look like a boat on the sea.  For the record, I kinda actually see it, so maybe the architect wasn't completely mad.  This church is suspended directly above what is actually pretty likely to be the location of Peter's Mother-in-law's house, a home base for Jesus, the site of a couple miracles, and over 130 instances of 1st century Christian graffiti, which helps us pinpoint the location.  For the record, if there's one thing that this trip is teaching me, it's that I should be carving my name, date, and a name and brief description into pretty much every important site in the nation, because future archaeologists will love me for it.

From Capernaum we bussed it back across the Plains of Ginesseret to Mount Arbel, which may or may not be the coolest place ever and, coincidentally, may or may not be the location of the Sermon on the Mount/Plain (check your Bible accounts, Matthew calls it a mount, I think it's Luke who says plain); Mount Arbel is an impressive mountain topped with a large plain-it works.  There are other indicators as well:  this site is better for the isolation Jesus was seeking, it lends itself to some of the metaphors used, and frankly the other site suggested is underwhelming.  After lunch and some discussion up top we climbed down the cliff side of Mount Arbel, which was an awesome path that led us to an awesome "castle" (monastery we think) carved into the cliffs in a sheer rock face, and eventually down to free ice cream at the bottom.  On a side note, we hiked the trail at the same time as a couple different Israeli high school groups, and, in a dramatic reversal of the norm, we guys were getting cat calls and comments while the girls were being pretty much left alone.  I think I can sympathize the tiniest bit with girls now-that was just weird.  Not terrible for the old ego, as confirmed by the guys I was with, but disconcerting nonetheless.

Last stop of the day was at a Byzantine chapel dedicated to the feeding of the 4000 and the casting out of the demon(s) Legion into the swine.  Both of these miracles are framed in such a way as to emphasize that Jesus' ministry was explicitly expanded to the Gentiles, which, as a Gentile, was nice to hear.  That stop done, we got back to Ein Gev pretty early, so I decided to go on a run.  I don't think I've sweated that much in a long, long time.  Got a solid hour run in at -700 feet, 100ish degrees, humid, hilly terrain though, followed by a dip in the sea to cool off and not be able to stand up.  Fun fact:  for being such a small lake, the Sea of Galilee can get some really significant waves going, especially on the East shore where we are, because of the Mediterranean winds channeling through the Jezreel Valley and into the depression of the upper Jordan.  We got some that were breaking around at least 10 feet, maybe higher, only about 30 yards out; walking out on that stuff, like Jesus, could have been challenging for sure.

Day ended with a good dinner, birthday celebration for Caroline, and more journaling and socializing beside the sea.  I'll toss another fun fact here lest I forget it:  our kibbutz is kosher, which, among other things, means you don't serve meat and dairy at the same meal, meaning I don't know what the ice cream like substance was that i had with dinner, but it was pretty tasty for being something entirely not ice cream.  Now I'm starting to fade, so here's the wrap up.  Tonight is, alas, our last night in Ein Gev, as we'll wind our way back to Jerusalem tomorrow, stopping at various sites I don't know off the top of my head on the way.  Most relevantly, this means I need to pack up before dozing off because I know I won't want to in the morning.  I think that'll just about do it for me.  Peace, blessings, and happy birthday Caroline!
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Terry White on

Looks like it was a great day to be on Mt. Arbel! That is my favorite place in all of Israel! I know Jesus sat on that cliff !

Scotty on

"...I should be carving my name, date, and a name and brief description into pretty much every important site in the nation, because future archaeologists will love me for it."

Love it. And loved that day! But I never got to see the boat. Sad...

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