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25
Nov

The Three (un)Wise Men, Episode 4

Part 4 in the series recounting my trip to Israel & the West Bank in October 2005.  You can catch up to speed by checking out Episodes 1, 2, and 3.  It’s okay…we’ll wait for you.

After nearly half a night of much-needed sleep, I was awakened around 4:30 am by the Fajr call to prayer.  The PA systems employed by every mosque I’ve been to around the world all seem to have one thing in common:  all-out volume is far more important than what a full, even frequency response is.  As a result, the calls to prayer always seem to greet the listener with a piercing sound of a nasally AM transistor radio set at a volume best described as WAY TOO LOUD.  While not exactly soothing, it does practically guarantee that everyone will be awake for the prayer within the first five seconds of the broadcast, and—since there is no Snooze button—everyone will stay awake.  After only a short eternity, the PA system lining the streets clicked off, and I was allowed to fall back to sleep within milliseconds.  Thankfully, just over an hour later the PA clicked loudly again, and I knew what was coming:  the Sunrise Prayer.

Mark, Jefe, and I congregated in the kitchen of the flat and had bit of breakfast:  coffee, bread, and the most wonderful breakfast drink I have ever experienced:  lime juice.  We had to get some food into our bodies because we had yet another “big day ahead.”  We would be heading to Bethlehem.

We walked down to the bus terminal just outside Damascus Gate of the Old City and caught a ride to the border checkpoint south of Jerusalem.  Walking into the concrete block building, we got in line with our paperwork in hand.  Judging by the number of M-16 rifles shouldered to the guards, we decided against pushing our way to the front and instead waited patiently in line to increase our chances of crossing the border successfully and with the least mortality. Read more »

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