Israel, March 2006



Tel Aviv






In the shot above right, you can see 2 men walking through an arch. One of those 2 men is my brother, and the other one is a friend of his who actually has a house in the old city, right off that corridor. We visited with him for a few minutes before heading out to the Western Wall. From his roof you can see much of the old city. In his basement is a mosaic he says is thousands of years old. He's got modern appliances and computers in a house that was built before Shakespeare or even Jesus Christ was born. What a fixer-upper! He's an American - he bought the place 20 years ago. Who knew? I wonder what the place is worth now. Location, location, location.

When we were coming down from his roof I heard a guitar being played from a room below. I sought out the source and found a nylon string guitar being randomly plucked by the owner’s teen-aged son. I asked him if he plays and said, not at all - and what’s more the guitar is totally out of tune and he can’t tune it. I asked him for the guitar, which he handed me. The label said simply, JAPANESE. It was obviously a laminated cheap-o, and like all cheap-o Japanese guitars, was well made and perfectly playable. It was indeed totally out of tune – no string had any relationship with any of the others. Somewhat to my surprise, and without a tuning fork or any reference I tuned it nearly perfectly in about 10 seconds. I then played Bach’s Bourree in E minor in that ancient home, in that ancient city, not 500 yards from the wall of a temple that King Solomon built and is still standing, and is one of the very holiest and revered points on the earth. I played the Bourree nicely - that’s my Plan A piece when I have only a few moments to play one piece on an unknown guitar, for an unknown audience, without warming up and week old nails – and the sound of Bach was heard in Old Jerusalem.


While in Jerusalem, we took a taxi to Yad Vashem (the holocaust museum in the outskirts of Jerusalem).  As many other experiences we had on this trip, it was incredibly moving.

The taxi driver - with whom we made a good friend of - was Arabic or Palestinian, is named Rami, and lives in Jerusalem.  We wound up using his services 3 times - once for a full day, on our trip to Ceasarea.  Rami was dependable, honest and hard working, polite and friendly.  When he dropped us off at our hotel after our Ceasarea trip, I told him that if all Jews and Arabs could get along like us, there would be no problems in the Middle East - he laughed and agreed, as we shook hands.










The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the surface of the earth.  The peaks of those mountains above aren't even at sea level.

One of the Dead Sea Scrolls was found in a cave near here, not a mile from the Dead Sea.  What an incredible coincidence!

I've always wanted to try floating in the Dead Sea, since I'd heard about it in elementary school.  What you've heard is true.  You just can't believe how the salt water supports you.  You can sit cross-legged and float as though you were sitting or lying on the ground.









Ralli Museum


This beautiful museum at Caesarea, was a delight.  No crowds, no admission fee, no metal detectors or body searches, you can stroll about at your leisure, you can take photographs - you can just enjoy yourself.   The effect is just intoxicating, it is so lovely.  Nobody is questioning you, nobody is warning you, or looking at you like you're up to no good.  The gorgeous Mediterranean coast is just outside the open arch windows.  The artwork is mind-boggling.

It's idyllic.




Bronze Byzantine Coins depicting Constantine (about 350 AD)

(I bought these 2 coins at the antique shop at Caesarea for $10 US each - the dime is shown for scale)



Our niece, turned 18, is off to do her stretch in the Israeli military.

She's in the Army now...

All our love and best wishes go with this sturdy and valiant young woman.

Israel - what a wonderful place - Jerusalem and everywhere else too - everything we saw was awe inspiring. The old structures give you an incredible sense of history. The new architecture is innovative and eye catching. The whole country is clean, organized, and friendly. There are few homeless folks, an absence of street urchins looking to rip you off (we didn't encounter any, at any rate), and you can get the best hummus you ever tasted at any restaurant.  Another thing - everybody seems to be in good physical shape.  You don't see the epidemic obesity problem we are always hearing about, and observe elsewhere.  

Walking through Tel Aviv, and observing the expressions on the many folks in the busy streets, I noted an absence of the looks of boredom, annoyance, and desperation that are so prevalent in the faces of the people I observe in most other places.

And, to quote a young, but very wise, girl named Dorothy...
There's no place like home.


This trip was made possible by the generosity of

Rock Diamond Corp/Diamonds by Lauren

to whom we give our most heartfelt thanks.