I slept way too much this afternoon, and thus, I am still awake at 6:30 a.m. My bad. Ah well. I reckon I'd better start regaling you with the stories of our trip, and hopefully later, I will post some pictures.
We flew out of Chicago-O'hare on Thursday to catch a connecting flight to Frankfurt, Germany. At O'hare, we went through security; having our bags and shoes x-rayed and what not. They asked me, "are these your shoes?" When I said yes, the security folks said, "We're going to look them over." I said, "ok." They took my shoes to a table and took these tongs with something like tissue paper and wanded them. Obviously they were clean, and so they gave them back to me. The day-glo orange shoelaces probably looked suspicious. :) When we got to Germany, we got on a plane to go to Tel Aviv; THE most secure airport in the world. It was daylight there, in part due to the fact they are 8 hours ahead of midwest time. Our guide met us in the airport and we walked out to our bus. These two people would move us around and give us boatloads of information the next couple of weeks.
We were all pretty tired from the flying and what not, so most of us slept some on the bus from Tel Aviv to Bethlehem. Naim talked over the microphone in the bus some, but I think he knew we were all just exhausted, and so for the most part, he let us sleep. When we arrived to Bethlehem, we had to go through an Israeli checkpoint at an opening in the separation barrier to get into the actual city. By then, it was getting dark, so our driver said something in Arabic and Naim told us that Atah (the driver) said, "We have 20 Americans on board." and they let us in, no questions asked. Only about two minutes after the checkpoint, we had to get off the bus and walk the rest of the way to our accomodations because Old City Bethlehem has WAY TOO narrow of streets for a huge honkin' tour bus to navigate. The walk is only about three or four minutes, so it's not bad. Plus, weather over there right now is around 50 degrees or so, so we were doing okay. We got to the International Center of Bethlehem, which has accomodations for tourists, a media center, a college, a church of the ELCA, and a few other things involved with it. We had chosen roommates beforehand, and when our luggage came to the ICB, we took it, along with our room keys and pretty much, we went to bed as soon as dinner was over.
Food in Israel/Palestine(I/P from here on out) is interesting. I couldn't even tell you what we had that first night. I remember there being pita bread, soup, some kind of salad, a main dish, and dessert. I wasn't that hungry because we ate multiple times on our flight, and I was more tired than anything.
My roommate, "A" and I went to our room, got ready for bed, and went to sleep around 8:00 P.M. and slept until about 7:00 A.M. It was a good thing we got to rest up because the next day, we were slated for much activity.