Travel Tip: Park Free with FlightCar

FlightCar isn't in Asia yet, but it could be coming
FlightCar isn't in Asia yet, but it could be coming

FlightCar isn’t in Asia yet, but it could be coming

In some ways, traveling gets easier (and sometimes cheaper) all the time.  For instance, according to the June 2015 issue of International Travel News: A Celebration of Travel, you can possibly rent out your car while you are traveling – and not have to pay for airport parking.

So far, FlightCar lots, which offer that service, are  located at several U.S. airports: Boston Logan, Philadelphia, Washington Dulles, Baltimore, Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Seattle-Tacoma, Portland, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Your car must be less than 14 years old, have fewer than 150,000 miles, and have a book value of less than $60,000. Even it your car isn’t rented, parking at the airport will still be free.

“On any car rented, FlightCar carries a $1,000,000 insurance policy covering bodily injury, damage or vandalism to the vehicle, and any third-party property damaged by the car.  FlightCar also reimburses for costs of repairing mechanical damage due to negligence or poor driving by the renter” (62).

Renters must meet specific qualifications such as have no major violations on their driving records and be at least 25 years old.

For more information, to list your car, or rent a car at a reasonable rate, go to www.flightcar.com.  Let me know if you use FlightCar and how you like it.  Maybe, we will have it on Maui in the future.

Happy traveling.

Aloha, Renée

Thought for the Day: “Changing the World” – the Obamas & Our Moms & You?

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Moms – making the world a better place.

“Barack Obama is the America we dreamed about when we were little kids sitting in that classroom with Doritos cheese under our fingernails. He is the grand symbol, the big victory, the fireworks that we so longed for.

Which is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, his election has made a lot of young people believe in the political process again, reflect on their own civic duty, and learn more about community organizing. On the other hand, all the hype that surrounded his candidacy has revived one of our more dangerous delusions—that “saving the world” is about heroics. In fact, the world will not be saved. It will be changed [my emphasis]. It looks more like your mom—her palm on your fevered forehead, her handwritten schedule for sharing child care with neighbors, her letter to the editor of the local newspaper—than it does your president. Activism is a daily, even hourly, experiment in dedication, moral courage, and resilience” (p. XVIII). . . .

[To change the world, we need “heroes.”  We need such people as the ones who averted a terrorist attack on the French train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris last Friday.  http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/24/europe/france-train-shooting/

We need the “quiet heroes” too].

The good news is that our gifts and the world’s needs are so diverse that we can pursue our own intersection [of our gifts and the needs of our place] while trusting that others will flourish where we would have floundered” (187).

  • from Courtney E. Martin’s Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, Beacon Press, 2010.

You are needed to help change the world.

Aloha, Renée

Ubud, Bali: Overview 2015

Bali Boys - Rama & Krishna

Barry and I were in Ubud again – because we love it there.

One of the great pleasures of being in Bali is the fresh coconuts – everywhere!  For a little more than $1.00 U.S., you can enjoy this mineral-rich, hydrating treat.

Coconuts!

Coconuts!

.

Not only can you drink the coconut water, you'll find coconut in many dishes.  Here - at the Yoga Barn cafe.

Not only can you drink the coconut water, you’ll find coconut in many dishes. Here – at the Yoga Barn cafe.

Coconut trees are everywhere.

Coconut trees are everywhere.

A stop at Sari Organic for a coconut treat (note the straw is of sustainable coconut too).

A stop at Sari Organic for a coconut treat (note the straw is of sustainable coconut too).

Art is everywhere in Bali.  Some of the streets in Ubud have patterned pavement.

Decorated pavement.

Artistic pavement.

Ubud street.

Ubud street.

Walking down an Ubud street, you will have visual treats everywhere you look.

These concrete slabs

These donated concrete slabs allowed the Ubud street to be paved.

For this concrete work, the close-by greenery will leave a pattern.

For this concrete work, the close-by greenery leaves provide a beautiful pattern.

Even the shower floors are beautiful - at Dewa's.

Even the shower floors are beautiful – at Dewa’s.

A wall next to Nyomen's where we buy many of our gifts from Ubud; her husband carved these faces just to decorate the wall

A wall next to Nyomen’s where we buy many of our gifts in Ubud.  Nyomen’s husband carved these faces just to decorate the wall

Eating is a treat in Ubud.

One Sunday night, we tried this buffet  in a family compound.   The cost - 35,000 Indonesian rupiah = about $  xx.

One Sunday night, we tried this buffet in a family compound. Good and the cost?  35,000 Indonesian rupiah  = about $2.65 U.S. :)

After walking through rice fields, we came to Sari Organic ?? or Down to Earth ?  and its tasty lunch.  Note the ecologically correct glass straw.

Dessert at Bollerro's - a favorite.

Dessert at Bollero’s – a favorite.

Food choices – from street cart venders to top five-star chefs – are part of the Ubud scene.  We often just stopped in at Umah Pizza for a huge green salad – and yes, pizza; it was down the street from our home stay.

Warm volcano chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream - yum - at Bollero's.

Warm volcano chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream – yum – at Bollero’s.

One of Barry's favorite dishes at Bollerro's - Lemon grass, coconut chicken.

One of Barry’s favorite dishes at Bollero’s – Lemon grass, coconut chicken.

One of my favorites: vegetable/pineapple skewers  at Warung Boga Sari

One of my favorites: vegetable/pineapple skewers at Warung Boga Sari

A feast at Dewa's family compound

A feast at Dewa’s family compound

With friends at lunch at Bali Buddha

With friends at lunch at Bali Buddha

Bollero has old Balinese photos decorating the walls.

Bollero has photos from the  past decorating the walls.

This caramel, peanut butter, chocolate pie was as good as we remembered it!  At the Indian restaurant - xx

This caramel, peanut butter, chocolate pie was as good as we remembered it! At the Indian restaurant – Bumbu Bali

Usually we make friends as we hang out at Nick’s pool.  This year,  two Mainland friends came to visit us: Gail from near Seattle and Chris from Chicago.

Lunch at Nick’s with  Gail and Chris – and Barry

Enticing walks lured us through the rice fields and all around Ubud.

A shaded walk.

A shaded walk.

Rice field.

Rice field.

Growing rice.

Rice glowing in in the sunlight.

Terraced rice fields.

Terraced rice fields.

A big hotel is in the background, and tourists throng through the Ubud Palace, but you don’t have to go far to be away from the crowds.

Husked rice set in the fields to dre

Husked rice set in the fields to dry

Volcanos in the distance.

Volcanos in the distance.

Shaded walks.

Shaded walks.

Plants familiar - and in this case not - but beautiful!

Plants familiar – and in this case not – but beautiful!

Rice field

Rice field

Flowers are spectacular.

Rice field and volcano

Rice field and volcano

Planting

Planting

We love the Balinese.

Two of our favorite Balinese: Krishna and Rama.

Two of our favorite Balinese: Krishna and Rama.

Dressed up for a temple ceremony, another cute Balinese boy

Dressed up for a temple ceremony, another cute Balinese boy

Spas are abundant in Ubud and nearby.

Naya Retreat & Spa - lovely

Naya Retreat & Spa – lovely

http://www.nayaubud.com

Barry and Chris at Naya - they came willingly to the Kundalini event :)

Barry and Chris at Naya – they came willingly to Rebecca’s  Kundalini event :)

Of course, we see monkeys

Of course,  monkeys

You'll see them especial in Monkey Forest

You’ll see them especial in Monkey Forest

Everything has a reason in Balinese homes.  The guards at the gates symbolize the positive and negative aspects of everything.   In order for the head of the household to make wise decisions, the guards share both perspectives.

Guardians of the doorway

Guardians of the doorway

Ganesha, remover of obstacles, is in the middle of this doorway with the guards on either side of the opening

Ganesha, remover of obstacles, is in the middle of this doorway with the guards on either side

You'll see classical - and quirky art

You’ll see classical – and quirky art

Traditional carved puppets

Traditional carved puppets

The painter of beautiful, intricate wooden eggs

The painter of beautiful, intricate wooden eggs

Friendly painter.  Barry met him on a walk through the rice fields near Ubud.

Friendly painter. Barry met him on a walk through the rice fields near Ubud.

For the first time, we saw a cremation, an important rite of passage for the Balinese Hindus who believe in reincarnation.

Only the frame of the bull remains - and the ashes of the deceased

Only the frame of the bull remains – and the ashes of the deceased

We went out almost every night for dinner, music, shows . . . Ubud has a range of entertainments within walking distance of our great home stay, Vera Accommodation <http://www.balicheapaccommodation.com/en/Cheap-accommodations/Indonesia/Ubud-Bali/Studio/Vera-Accommodation/1542>.

Stories of the Ramaxxxxx come to life

Hindu stories of the Ramayana come to life

The blackened feet of the trance dancer

The blacken feet of the trance dancer – he pranced through burning coconut husks!  In the front row, I kept backing up so I wouldn’t get burned!  How does he do it?

At Bar Luna: an entertaining and informative talk by two Western women who have married Balinese men

At Bar Luna: an entertaining and informative talk by two Western women who have married Balinese men

Music almost every night.  Here we are at Bar Luna.  The performer made his instrument of bamboo - amazing

Music almost every night. Here we are again at Bar Luna. The performer made his instrument of bamboo – amazing

After Chris rescued a kitten, we went to Villa Kitty, an animal shelter just outside Ubud

After Chris rescued a kitten, we went to Villa Kitty, an animal shelter just outside Ubud

Elizabeth (from Australia) is the moving force behind Villa Kitty

Elizabeth (from Australia) is the moving force behind Villa Kitty

When we were there, for the Sunday fundraising buffet, Villa Kitty had 140 rescue cats of all ages and conditions and about 20 dogs.   Elizabeth and her staff do wonderful work of rescuing animals as well as educating Bali residents.

Fellow Villa Kitty visitors

Fellow Villa Kitty visitors

Chris and Villa Kitty rescue cats

Chris and Villa Kitty rescue cats

This Villa Kitty resident looks much like the kitty that John and Sigrid got for us here at the Maui Humane Society - cute cat

This Villa Kitty resident looks much like the kitty that John and Sigrid got for us here at the Maui Humane Society – cute cat

Shopping is always an option in Ubud

Shopping is always an option in Ubud

Friendly faces, great prices

Friendly faces, great prices

We enjoy being in Bali – especially in Ubud, a town rich in Balinese culture and religion.  I also love all the yoga from very well-trained teachers offered in Ubud.   My choice is The Yoga Barn almost every day!  http://www.theyogabarn.com :) .  The Balinese and the visitors we meet there are wonderful, interesting people.   Barry and I are sure to return.

Bye to Krishna, Rama and Ayu - until next time.

Bye to Krishna, Rama and Ayu – until next time.

Aloha & Sanpai jumpa, Renée

A Balinese Cremation

Funeral pyre

For the Hindu Balinese, a cremation is a very meaningful aspect of community tradition to help the soul of the deceased break its earthly ties.     Friend Gail and I happened upon a funeral procession in Ubud; we followed this colorful group to the graveyard on Monkey Forest Road.

This bull cremation tower was at the front of the procession

This bull cremation tower was at the front of the procession

In his book, The Balinese, J. Stephen Lansing explains: “When someone dies in a Balinese village, a drum is beaten to summon representatives from every family in the neighborhood [the banar] . . . [they come] to help wash the corpse and prepare it for burial. . . .  For immediately after death, the soul is thought to hover above the body in a state of bewilderment” (32).

The bull is swirled around in the streets - to confuse spirits

The bull is swirled around in the streets – to confuse the spirits and loosen their connect to the Earth

Everyone comes

Everyone comes

The men, the women, the children - all come

The men, the women, the children – all come

The bull float leads and another float follows.  The second is carrying the body - in this case of an older woman from a very rich family

The bull cremation tower leads the procession and another tower follows. The second is carrying the body – in this case of an older woman from a very rich family

Lansing continues: “Surprisingly (to a Westerner like me), the atmosphere is not solemn; instead there is a bustling crowd of people, talking informally with one another as they go about the business of preparing the body.  There are more overt signs of sadness at the death of a child; but at the death of an older person, I had the impression that everyone was more eager to be seen doing their part to help than mourning for the deceased.  Death is an occasion when neighbors try to behave like relatives, helping the family of the deceased through a difficult and potentially dangerous time” (32-33).

The banjar members carrying the cremation tower actually seemed to be having fun

The banjar members carry a cremation tower

They pull the cremation towers in circles

They pull the cremation towers in circles to help the deceased break their earthly ties

Look at the faces:

This is not a solumn xx event

This is not a solemn event

Here are the men carrying a cremation tower

Here are the men carrying a cremation tower

Here are women in the procession

Here are women in the procession

Drums keep the cadence

Drummers in the procession keep the cadence

We followed the procession to the Hindu temple and cemetery in Monkey Forest.

“Banjar members may contribute money, food, or clothing, help to dig the grave, and escort the family with the body to the cemetery.” And that procession to the cemetery is what Gail and I saw.  I was surprised that we Westerners were invited in to see the ritual.   At other Hindu temple rituals, Westerners must at least be in formal Balinese garb; some rituals are for only Balinese Hindus.   But for the cremation, some Westerners walked right up to the funeral pyre.

The back of the bull is removed

The back of the bull is removed

Men remove the casket from the second cremation tower and carry it over to the bull cremation tower.

The empty casket goes back onto the processional float ??

The casket is opened – some Westerners are right at the front

The priests lift the body in its white satin dress from the casket

The priests lift the body in its white satin dress from the casket

We were told that the deceased was from a rich family and that is why she could be buried quickly especially since this was an auspicious day for a cremation.

The empty casket goes back onto the processional float WC?

The empty casket goes back onto the processional cremation tower – the body is already in the bull, which will become the funeral pyre

“After a final bath of holy water, any wounds on the body are covered with tamarind paste so that they will be healed in there person’s next life.  Ornaments are placed on the corpse, such as mirrors over the eyes, which are thought to confer clear sight and personal beauty in the next life.  A white shroud is prepared, inscribed with an image of the human body labeled to indicate the correspondence of the inner world of the self to the outer world of the cosmos.  The parts of the body are marked with letters indicating the dasabayu (ten wind-directions), the destination of different aspects of the self at the moment of cremation, when its elements will be dissolved back into the outer world” (33).

The priests put dresses and other things into the casket with the deceased

The priests put symbolic treasures  into the casket with the deceased

Waiting

Waiting

Waiting - the older women distribute offerings on the graves of those bodies that will be cremated when their families can afford it

Waiting – the older women distribute offerings on the graves of those bodies that will be cremated when their families can afford it

Lansing notes: “The cost of cremation varies from expensive to ruinous, and may force a family to go into debt, even to the extent of selling their farm land.  All of these expenses are borne by the family of the deceased, not the banjar.  The preparation of cremation towers is especially expensive.   Various types of cremation towers are appropriate to different castes or sub-castes.  Most banjars include members from different castes, and one of the major sources of social friction [which we never saw] in the village is the idea that differences in caste represent differences in merit, or one’s deserved place in society.  The idea of rank, which is implicit in the very idea of a caste system, can often be ignored in people’s daily relationships.  But the building of a cremation tower and the procession of the family to the burning grounds forces each family to make a very public statement about how they define their position in the social hierarchy “(33).

Ayu - from Vera Accommodation - all dressed up and waiting for the cremation

Ayu – from Vera Accommodation – all dressed up and waiting for the cremation

The men start disassembling the floats

The men start disassembling the cremation towers

The body burns within the bull

The body burns within the bull funeral pyre

The community socializes while the fire burns

The community socializes while the fire burns

The float that carried the body to the cemetery is set on fire

The cremation tower that carried the body to the cemetery is also set on fire

The float, the casket, the bamboo poles used to carry everything - all go up in smoke

The tower, the casket, the bamboo poles used to carry everything – all go up in smoke

Pushing the empty casket into the fire

Pushing the empty casket into the fire

The body is consumed by fire

Inside the bull, the body is being consumed by fire

Funeral pyre

Funeral pyre

In recent years, “there have been numerous efforts by progressive Balinese to reduce the costs of cremation, and the social tensions they so often exacerbate, either by encouraging whole banjars to carry our their cremations on the same date, and so share the costs of the ritual, [which is usually what happens in Ubud],  or by reducing the amount of time and money spent on these rituals. There is a temptation for ambitious families to carry out cremations with higher-ranking caste symbolism than their neighbors regard as appropriate. The result is said to be that the cremation will not achieve the desired effect of launching the deceased on a successful journey to the next life.  Instead, the deceased becomes an angry ghost, unable to take leave of the world, who is likely to take revenge on the family members whose pride caused their predicament.   Alternatively, families who lack the necessary financial resources may be tempted to postpone the cremation ritual indefinitely, which can lead to strong feelings of guilt and failure (and fear of revenge from impatient ghosts awaiting cremation),” says J. Stephen Lansing (33).

Buried bodies awaiting   cremation

Buried bodies awaiting cremation

The fire continues until only ashes remain

The fire burns to the ground

Only the frame of the bull remains - and the ashes of the deceased

Only the frame of the bull remains – and the ashes of the deceased

“After the cremation tower containing the body has burnt to ashes, a few fragments of the bone and ash are gathered and placed inside a coconut wrapped in a yellow cloth, which is ceremoniously carried to the beach, where prayers are offered by a high priest.  The contents of the coconut, representing the five elements from which the body was formed, are poured into the ocean where they are thought to dissolve completely into the primal elements of earth, air, water, fire, and ether” (34).

Waiting for the ashes to cool

Waiting for the ashes to cool

The cremation is a religious rite and social tradition for the Balinese.

Lansing goes on to describe another ritual sequence called nyekah or memukur that is carried out by one or more high priests on behalf of the family much later.  This involves even more expense and possible flaunting of high social state.

However, what Gail and I saw was a community coming together to ease the passage of a neighbor.  They were there to help the family (and their community expected their participation); besides they had fun.  We saw the cremation as a colorful, interesting, and unifying community ritual.

We hope you come upon such interesting cultural traditions when you are in Bali.

Aloha & Sanpai jumpa, Renée

Angola Update: The Not So Good News

Angola - from

A few months ago,  our “Barry’s Gleaning” post reported good news about Angola and the building going on there to create good housing for those who had been living in slums near the capital city of Luanda.  The source was the China Daily, a Nov. 17, 2014 article, “Changing the face of real estate in Angola” by Li Jing in the business section.  What the Chinese have accomplished in Angola was presented in glowing terms.

The China Daily article notes:

“With its abundance of resources that include crude oil, diamonds and gold, the southern African nation has seen scores of China’s State-owned enterprises and private companies enter its borders hoping for an economic opportunity.

In 2008, CITIC Construction Co, a State-owned enterprise and one of the largest construction companies in the world, joined the nation’s reconstruction efforts.  [See the CITIC website:<http://www.cici.citic.com/iwcm/cici/en/ns:LHQ6MTc1LGY6NDM5LGM6LHA6LGE6LG06/channel.vsml]

‘We are an active and responsible player in the country’s post-war reconstruction process,’ says Liu Guigen, president of the African regional division of CITIC Construction . . .

That year, the company won a bid to build housing in Kilamba Kiaxi, one of the capital city of Luanda’s six urban districts that is located 30 kilometers from downtown. . . .

Last year, the $10 billion project was completed with a total of 20,000 residential homes, 200 retail stores, 24 kindergartens, nine primary schools and eight middle schools. CITIC claims 90 percent of the homes are already occupied.”

That article sounds wonderful and a win-win situation for the Chinese company and the people of Angola.

However,  we’ve found another view that emphasizes the importance of questioning all your sources and not being too sure about what you read.

Travel writer Paul Theroux has quite damning things to say about the Chinese builders in his book The Last Train to Zona Verde:

The Last Train to Zona Verde - The Guardian describes the book as

The Last Train to Zona Verde

In a book review for The Guardian, Robin McKie says The Last Train to Zona Verde is “uncompromising and unsettling.”  <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jun/01/train-zone-verde-theroux-review>  This accurately describes Theroux’s  look at the Chinese in Angola:

“The first Chinese workers to arrive in Angola were criminals, prisoners of the Chinese justice system–thieves, rapists, dissidents, deserters, and worse, an echo of the earliest immigration from Portugal.  . . . The first workers the Chinese sent were convicts shipped in chains, to work off their sentences in forced labor.  Angola, having begun as a penal colony of the Portuguese, became just recently a penal colony for the Chinese.  These Chinese convicts were the labor force for China-Angola development projects–the ugly oversized pastel buildings, the coastal roads, the dredging of the del-water port of Lobito–and after they had served their sentences, the agreement was that they would remain in Angola.  Presumably, like the Portuguese degredados, they would elevate themselves to the bourgeoisie or a higher class of parvenu.

Possibly, again like the Portuguese convicts, the Chinese would become the loudest racists, and for the same reason. ‘The inferiority complex of the uneducated criminal settler population contributed to a virulent form of white racism among the Portuguese, which affected all classes from top to bottom,’ the political historian Lawrence Henderson wrote of the early settlers.  The Portuguese convicts became the most brutal employers and the laziest farmers, and a sizable number turned furiously respectable, in the way atoning whores become sermonizing and pitiless nuns.

After the first wave of Chinese convicts (‘We started seeing them around 2006, a man in Luanda was later to tell me), more shiploads of semiskilled Chinese workers arrived.  As with the early Portuguese convicts, they were all men.  Then, a few years later, women were allowed to work in Angola”  (282-283).

. . . “Some Africa watchers and Western economists have observed that the Chinese presence in Africa–a sudden intrusion–is salutary and will result in greater development and more opportunities for Africans. Seeing Chinese digging into Africa, isolated in their enterprises, offhand with Africans to the point of rudeness and deaf to any suggestion that they moderate their self-serving ways, I tend to regard this positive view as a crock.  My own feeling is that like the other adventurers in Africa, the Chinese are exploiters.  They have no compact or agreement or involvement with the African people; third is an alliance with the dictators and bureaucrats whom they pay off and allow to govern abusively–a conspiracy.

Theirs is a racket like those of all the previous colonizers, and it will end badly–maybe worse, because the Chinese are tenacious, richer, and for them there is no going back and no surrender.  As they walked into Tibet and took over (with not a voice of protest raised by anyone in the West), they are walking into the continent and, outspending any other adventurer, subverting Africans, with a mission to plunder” (265).

*****

Theroux’s view is a good reminder to question everything.  Is the China Daily’s glowing view correct or Theroux’s point of view?  Obviously, we need more than those two accounts.

Have you been there?  What do you know?

Aloha, Renée

Thought for the Day: Tattoo – Pray

Bruce Lee quotation.

Bruce Lee quotation.

Do not pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one

–  Bruce Lee

This message is tattooed on Colin’s arm.  Originally from New Zealand, Colin has been working in Australia and was vacationing in Bali.  After a class at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Colin showed me this good message!

Aloha & Sanpai jumpa, Renée

Bali’s Very Special Dog – Perhaps the oldest dog breed on Earth: Barry’s Gleanings

A wonderful companion - the Bali Dog

“Bali’s Very Special Dog” by Ibu Kat

“Visitors to Bali often comment on the many dogs roaming the streets and guarding the gates to family compounds. Because of the wide variation in colouring they are often mistaken for mutts or mongrels, but in fact the Bali Dog is a distinct breed. Researchers at the University of California Davis believe that the Bali Dog, with its unique and valuable gene pool may be the oldest dog on earth.

The Bali Dog - comes in many colors.  It may be the oldest breed on Earth

The Bali Dog – comes in many colors. It may be the oldest breed on Earth

Between 2000 and 2003, Dr. Niels Pederson from the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at University fo California Davis led a team that tested the DNA of 3,500 indigenous dogs from all over Bali. Bali has two unique indigenous dogs, the Bali Dog and the highland Kintamani which have been living on the island virtually unaltered for at least 5,000 years. Genetic research shows that the ancestry of the Bali Dog can be traced back about 15,000 years.

According to Dr. Pederson, Bali’s dogs are the richest pool of genetic diversity of all the dogs on the world. ‘The true pure canine breed is the indigenous Bali Dog,’ said Dr. Pedersen. ‘Its lineage goes all the way back to the first proto-dogs that evolved from the wolves. Their genes are highly valuable for further research, as they are a window on the ancestral dog.’

A Bali Dog walks along the rice fields

A Bali Dog walks along the rice fields

Although expats and tourists become emotional about vanishing species such as the orangutan, Bali Starling, Java rhino and the many other creatures which are rapidly disappearing across Indonesia, the ubiquitous Bali Dog remains invisible to conservationists. There seem to be so many of them – too many, some say. Yet this precious and unique pool of DNA is quickly becoming contaminated by the introduction of imported dogs.

Because the Bali Dog is not yet a formally recognized breed, it is not being bred for purity. After thousands of years of uncontaminated DNA, the Bali Dog is now under threat from casual inbreeding with imported dogs. The so-called “breed dogs” are a status symbol here, but many are products of uncontrolled puppy mills where extreme inbreeding is the norm. Casual interbreeding with imported dogs introduces their weaker genes. The Bali Dog is so genetically diverse, it presents many different ear and tail types as well as colours.

A Bali Dog - at Kitty Villa

A Bali Dog (brown with a black muzzle and face) –  safe at Villa Kitty near Ubud, Bali

[Villa Kitty, a rescue and adoption site especially for cats and kittens, is run by the fabulous Elizabeth and her caring staff.  They rescue dogs too.

Every Sunday, Villa Kitty offers a great meal as a fundraiser to anyone interested in visiting the facility near Ubud.  <http://www.villakitty.com>]

The Bali Dog may be black or white, or white with black or brown spots or patches of various sizes. There’s a wide variety of beautiful brindles including grey and black, solid brown with caramel and black stripes, and the more common sandy brown variety with black stripes. The most unusual colours for a Bali Dog are pure golden and grey. Also rare and highly sought after for ceremonial sacrifice is the un-neutered male pure brown variety with a black muzzle and face. [Yikes, I don’t know if this is still happening. I hope not!]. Genetic testing proves that regardless of the wide range of colour and markings, all these dogs shared the same pure DNA pool.

Bali Dogs make wonderful pets. Once the owner has won its trust, it can be highly trained. This is naturally a very clean dog and many owners claim that it seems to house train itself from an early age.   The breed is extremely adaptable to many situations and climates, even growing a thicker coat when moved to colder parts of the world. Its wide genetic diversity makes it immune to the diseases and genetic disorders typical of selectively bred dogs. If well looked after, the breed can live over 16 years. There are stories of Bali Dogs traveling many miles across country to return to their original homes.

A Bali Dog

A Bali Dog

Although they like to run in packs and make a lot of noise, the breed is seldom aggressive and bites are rare if the dog is not provoked. They hate to be confined and can easily clear walls of over three meters [almost 10 feet] high, from the tops of which they also like to survey their territory. They’re commonly known as ‘street dogs’ because of their love of running free and socializing with each other, and although they many seem feral almost all Bali Dogs are in fact owned. They’re commonly seen hanging out in the doorways of their home compounds, alert to intruders. These dogs are smart and funny and often have huge personalities. They are great guard dogs, their distinctive barks alerting their owners to different kinds of intruders (‘Snake!’ ‘Stranger!’ ‘Evil Spirits!’).

Before plastic arrived in Bali, these dogs played an important part in the ecosystem by consuming the organic waste. Enthusiastic ratters, they also had a strong role in managing the rodent population on the island. When the government started culling dogs after the 2008 rabies outbreak, the rice harvest in some areas where the dogs had been eliminated was destroyed by the uncontrolled rat population. Bali Dogs also keep snakes and other unwelcome wildlife away from the house.

Because of the heat and huminity xx, many of the Bali dogs suffer with skin problems.

Because of the heat and humidity, some of the Bali dogs suffer with skin problems – even if they are owned.  This Bali Dog got all of Chris’s and Barry’s leftover rib bones.  That didn’t help his skin, but he started looking for us :)

So if you’re in the market for a dog, why not choose the breed with the oldest and strongest genetic heritage, best adapted to the local climate, a terrific guard dog and a smart, funny companion – the Bali Dog.

A wonderful companion - the Bali Dog

A wonderful companion – the Bali Dog

To adopt a Bali Dog or if you see an injured dog on the street, call BAWA at 081 1389004 or BARC at 0361 975 038. [These organizations are doing wonderful work in educating people and in rescuing dogs].  Remember that these are charities, so please make a donation when you take a rescued dog in for care.”

Written by Ibu Kat in UbudLife No. 21 Dec. – Feb. 2015, p. 68-69.

Aloha & Sanpai jumpa, Renée

Barry’s Gleanings: Wine is Healthy – Here’s Why

A glass of wine with friends at sunset - wonderful

Since alcohol often doesn’t do good things for a person’s brain, I’ve  wondered why wine is often touted as healthy – being good for your heart and a way to burn fat.  A Danish study may explain the paradox.

“In 2002, four Danish scientists began examining grocery receipts. This may sound like a waste of taxpayer dollars, but in fact it was the kind of experiment other scientists describe as “elegant.” For years, science had been grappling with the unexplained health benefits of wine—wine drinkers seemed more resistant to coronary heart disease and certain cancers, but no one knew why.

Predictably, there was a large-scale effort to rip wine apart in search of whatever compound was working its peculiar magic on the human body and turn it into a pill. (Resveratrol was one). The Danish group came at it from a different angle. They didn’t need a gas chromatograph. They needed receipts. They wanted to know what else all those healthy wine drinkers were buying when they visited the supermarket.

Altogether, they examined 3.5 million transactions from 98 supermarkets. They found that wine drinkers didn’t shop the same way as beer drinkers. Wine drinkers were more likely to place olives, low-fat cheese, fruits and vegetables, low-fat meat, spices, and tea in their carts. Beer drinkers, on the other hand, were more likely to reach for the chips, ketchup, margarine, sugar, ready-cooked meals, and soft drinks.

Perhaps the health of wine drinkers isn’t caused by wine so much as by the fact that wine drinkers like wine in the first place. The greatest predictor of health, these results suggest, doesn’t come down to this or that nutrient. It comes down to what a person finds delicious.”

–Adapted from The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor by Mark Schatzker   in “Very Short Book Excerpt – Vino Veritas” June 2015 The Atlantic Monthly (p. 17).

Pass the fine cheese and grilled vegetables.

A glass of wine with friends at sunset - wonderful

A glass of wine with friends at sunset – wonderful

Aloha & Cheers, Barry & Renée

Servas Israel Tour – Bethlehem, Palestinian Authority, Servas Goodbye, and Evolving Thoughts

Israel
CHRISTMAS IN ISRAEL WITH SERVAS

I speak neither Hebrew nor Arabic.  I’m neither Jewish nor Muslim.  I try to live Quaker concepts: equality, justice, simplicity, service, integrity, pacifism, and seek the light of God within each person.  Although Christian, I like Hindu ideas (of  karma and an understanding that many paths lead to the top of the mountain) and Buddhist views (of compassion and right work).  I graduated from Horton Watkins High School with its about 95% Jewish students; I admire the emphasis on learning.  Barry, my husband, comes from a Jewish family.  One stepmother was Jewish.  I’ve read Anne Frank, Sarah’s Key, Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, seen Shindler’s List, . . . and gone to the Holocaust Museum in Frankfort.   We have good  friends who live in Jerusalem and are Israeli. In other words, I have a pro-Jewish point of view.

But I also love the poetry and stories of  Naomi Shihab Nye, whose father was Palestinian and mother American.  And we’ve met good people everywhere we’ve traveled.    Although the U.S. news about Israel is usually grim, Barry and I were very interested in what we would find as we participated in the Christmas in Israel Servas 2014 Tour.

So what do I think now after my five weeks in Israel?

I’m more conflicted than before. Perhaps a reason it’s taken me so long to write about this great trip (besides being busy) is because much about Israel is complex.   Our final day tour with some of the other Servas members was a trip to Bethlehem, controlled by the Palestinian Authority.   That day revealed the complexity and contrast in several ways.

The map shows how the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and Gaza are situated within Israel, a country about the size of the U.S. state of New Jersey.  Note how the Arab countries of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt border Israel:

Israel

Israel

https://www.google.com/search?q=maps+of+israel+palestine&biw=1440&bih=682&tbm=isch&imgil=vt7l1KebrytSuM%253A%253BT3eSLKz1IilShM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.pbs.org%25252Ffrontlineworld%25252Fstories%25252Fpalestine503%25252Fadditional.html&source=iu&pf=m&fir=vt7l1KebrytSuM%253A%252CT3eSLKz1IilShM%252C_&usg=__puMbXYo6aVb3OB4A22OGtkry_3E%3D&ved=0CCsQyjc&ei=MDacVbDqL4K5oQSkxIHoDQ#imgrc=jv4Kp0F98kM2ZM%3A&usg=__puMbXYo6aVb3OB4A22OGtkry_3E%3D

Before we went to Bethlehem, we stayed in Jerusalem at the clean, comfortable Eden Hotel, owned by Line,  a gracious and efficient Jewish woman; friendly Muslim women cooked our yummy buffet breakfasts. <http://jerusalemhotel.co.il&gt;.  Throughout our trip, we experienced many such examples of Jewish/Arab cooperation and interaction within Israel.

We tour members met that Saturday evening to say farewell to our Servas Israeli hosts.   For ten days, they had housed and fed us, shared their lives, shown us important historical and religious sites (especially Christian for this Christmas season); we know them as wonderful, generous  people.  Many of our Israeli hosts and their family members had incredible stories of suffering, survival — and miracles — in order to be alive –and live in  Israel.

That night, we all met at a Hand in Hand Bilingual School in Jerusalem, one of the five Hand in Hand schools in Israel: A Center for Jewish Arab Education in Israel.   <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXE4ofvd9vk>. Hand in Hand students learn to read and write in both Hebrew and Arabic — and from third grade on, in English, too.   The schools are public and open to all children.  Besides teaching the languages, the schools are committed to respecting all who live in Israel: “Learning Together, Living Together.”  <https://www.handinhandk12.org/inform/our-schools>

The setting was perfect for our Servas interactions, which are to promote peace and understanding around the globe.   That night we again enjoyed  presentations, games, dancing, and singing.  My favorite part was making a necklace from the beads contributed from each of our tour members.  There were amber beads from Poland; green beads representing the Belarus flag,  pretzel beads,  silver bicycles,  Jewish flags …..  I love my necklace and the friendships and connections it represents.

Stringing our beads into necklaces.

Stringing our beads into necklaces.

Some Servas members arranged the beads by size and shape;  I made mine in the order in which I could reach the bowls that held the beads.  I added Muslim prayer beads, Buddhist prayer beads, and a Christian Coptic cross so that my necklace connects not only countries but also religions.

My Servas Israel Tour necklace linking beads from around the world

My Servas Israel Tour necklace linking beads from around the world

We wrote about our experiences with our Servas Israel Tour.  Igor  from Russia and Anna from Germany in the middle.  At the back xxxx from Germany, Tarit, xxx xxx, and xxxx from India.

We wrote about our experiences with our Servas Israel Tour. Igor from Russia and Anna from Germany in the middle. At the back –  Imelda from Germany; Tarit, Kashi Lal, and Sudhir Kumar from India.

Sudshuna zxxx and Gelinda xxx with their necklaces.

Sudeshna and Brigitte with their necklaces.

Maria from Poland

Maria from Poland

Servas Israel Tour members

Servas Israel Tour members

The Hand in Hand schools exemplify Jewish/Arab interaction and cooperation.  After an act of vandalism at this school, the Hand in Hand children flew a banner pledging  continuing Arab & Jewish unity.

Arab and Jewish unity

Arab and Jewish unity banner

Among the other presenters, Barry and I got to share Maui highlights.  We hope Servas tour members and our Israeli hosts come visit us.

Our son John + his dog Nalu (

In Maui, our son John + his dog Nalu (“wave” in Hawaiian) in Iao Valley

Again, we’d had another wonderful evening experiencing fellowship together.

****

Then on Sunday morning, those of us going to Bethlehem met at the hostel where some of the tour members were staying.

Claudia and Manda

Claudia and Manda

Before we left, Manda gave a moving tribute to our Servas 2014 Christmas in Israel organizer – the wonderful Claudia.

Although we had been in Israel, our Servas tour hadn’t gone to Bethlehem for Christmas Eve because, we were told, it would have been even more crowded and chaotic than on other days.  And since Bethlehem is under the control of the Palestinian Authority,  our Israeli Jewish hosts are not allowed to go there.

We Servas members travelled the six miles (10 km)  by public bus and met our Arab Israeli local guide in Bethlehem.

From the bus, we could see the sign to Rachel's Tomb.  History and religion are everywhere in Israel

From the bus, we could see the sign to Rachel’s Tomb-in the West Bank. History and religion are everywhere in Israel

On the bus, we sat across from three friendly, bright Arab boys.  They knew a little English and wanted to know where we were all from: Russia, Poland, England, Sweden, U.S., Germany . . .  The boys could identify each of us.   If the boys are Arab Israeli, they have the same education and health support as the Jewish Israeli children; the Palestinian Arab children under the Palestinian Authority do not have the same opportunities.

View from the bus into Palestinian Authority Territory

View from the bus into Palestinian Authority Territory

View from the bus - going into Bethlehem

Going into Bethlehem – we could see some boarded up buildings

In Bethlehem

In Bethlehem, outside the Church of the Nativity

Marilyn and Igor with an Arab vendor in Bethlehem

Marilyn and Igor with an Arab vendor in Bethlehem

In Bethlehem at Christmas

In Bethlehem at Christmas

Christmas in Bethlehem

Christmas nativity scene in Bethlehem

Vendors in front of us - and behind us.

Vendors in front of us – and behind us.

In 339 AD, Constantine and his mother St. Helena had a church built above the place of Jesus’ birth.

At the left, our efficient and nice Arab Palestinian guide who got us through all the lines

At the left, our efficient, friendly Arab Palestinian guide who got us through all the lines

Maria and Stephan xx entering xxxx

Maria and Stepan entering the Church of the Nativity through the Door of Humility.

The Door of Humility, the small rectangular entrance to the church, was created in Ottoman times to prevent carts being driven in by looters and to force even the most important visitor to dismount from his/her horse to enter the holy place.  Except for Stepan, the rest of us needed to stoop to enter.

From: <http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/bethlehem-church-of-the-nativity>.

Inside the xxx church.  Note the wall on the right.

Inside the Church of the Nativity. Note the wall on the right is being repaired

A wooden floor had been built over the original mosaic floor.  Part of the renovation is to restore the floors.

A wooden floor had been built over the original mosaic floor of 339AD.  Part of the current renovation is to restore the original floors

Inside xxxx in Bethlehem

Inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem – honoring the birth site of Jesus

Explaining the restoration

Explaining the restoration – The Palestinian  Presidential Committee for the Restoration of the Church of the Nativity

Inside the church was crowded, dark, under reconstruction

Inside, the church was crowded, dark, under reconstruction

While we waited in our crowded lines, a tour guide screamed across the church nave at another guide, “Don’t cut in line! Wait your turn!”

The other guide yelled back, “We didn’t cut.”

The first guided screamed, “If I’m lying, you can cut off my head!”

Yikes, this is the birthplace of Jesus!  Have we learned nothing?  We were at one of the holiest religious sites on Earth, and a few people were acting rude and ridiculous.  Shocking, actually.

According to the World Heritage site, the Church of the Nativity is managed by the three churches: the Greek Orthodox Church, the Custody of the Holy Land (Roman Catholic), and the Armenian Patriarchate. Now an advisory committee formed by the Palestinian President is involved too.   Historically, the three churches that have joint control over the Church of the Nativity have not cooperated with each other.  A Huffington Post article written in Dec. 2013 tells of the renovation efforts. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/12/bethlehem-church-of-the-nativity_n_4432606.html.  Over a year later, little seems to have been renovated, but it’s the first major renovation in 600 years, so perhaps more has been done than we could see.

Scaffolding was everywhere

Scaffolding is everywhere

Ulrike xxx, Mariaxx, and Igor.  The ceiling is peeling.

Ulrike, Maria, and Igor. The structure needs reinforcement; the ceiling is peeling.

inside the church

Inside the church

In line to see the birth site of Jesus

In line to see the birth site of Jesus

Inside the Church of the Nativity

Inside the Church of the Nativity

The paintings look restored – and beautiful.

Paintings of the stations of the Cross xxx within the Church of the Nativity

Paintings of Jesus  within the Church of the Nativity

Waiting in line

Waiting in line

Waiting

Waiting

This fourteen-pointed star indicates the actual spot where Jesus was born

This fourteen-pointed star indicates the actual spot where Jesus was born

Throughout history, this part of the Middle East has had religious significance and people fighting over it.  For instance, in 1847, the theft of the silver star marking the exact site of the Nativity was a factor in the international crisis over the Holy Places that ultimately led to the Crimean War (1854–56).

Across from the birth site, a “baby in a manger” marks where Jesus was placed.  The replica of baby Jesus must be a popular theft item since it has a cage around it :(

“Jesus in the manger”

People from around the world hoped to see the birth place of Jesus

People from around the world see the birth place of Jesus.  Svetlana A.  at the right

Outside the Church of the Nativity - monasteries xxxx

Outside the Church of the Nativity  are the monasteries of the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and the Armenian Apostolic

A mass in the Church of the Nativity

A mass in the Church of the Nativity

St. George - the Crusaiders are celebrated here tool

St. George – the Crusaders are celebrated here too!

A Bethlehem shop owner, Mitri, sent a bus for us – and so we went to his souvenir shop in Bethlehem, which offered a good variety of gift items; the payment was in U.S. dollars.

Bethlehem pilgrims: Igor, Roselleexx and xxx.

Bethlehem pilgrims: Igor (Russia), Rossella (Italy) and Sudhir Kumar (Bhopal, India).

xx and Vldorxx with his new flute

Irena and Vladimir with his new flute

Lunch in Bethlehem

Lunch in Bethlehem

Bus tire - Where we just looking for things?

Bus tire – Where we just looking for things that weren’t right??

As we were waiting to get back on our bus to return to Jerusalem, someone pointed out that the tire looked bald.  The Arab bus driver immediately asked what was wrong and said the tires were just fine.

Earlier, we’d seen 10-year old boys selling gum in the Bethlehem Manger Plaza.  One kid asked me for $100 for a pack of Wrigley spearmint!  I laughed – but did get a pack – for much less.

The pack of gum sold by an Arab Palestinian boy.

A pack of gum sold by an Arab Palestinian boy.

The kid is sure to have a great future in sales.  But why isn’t he out playing or doing sports?

Some buildings we saw in Bethlehem were dilapidated or boarded up.  At the time, Israeli news reported an embargo on concrete into the West Bank and Gaza.  The Israelis couldn’t be sure that new shipments of concrete wouldn’t again create tunnels such as those used the previous summer to send Arab fighters and missiles into Israel.

The conflict in July 2014 resulted in many deaths – especially for Palistenian civilians since Israel has the superior missiles and also defense system.

“Amnesty International, which has a number of people on the ground in Gaza and consistently condemns Israeli and Palestinian abuses alike . . .Palestinian armed groups have stored munitions in and fired indiscriminate rockets from residential areas in the Gaza Strip . . . and have also reportedly urged residents in some areas of the Gaza Strip not to leave their homes after Israel had warned it would attack the area, all of which have the effect of putting Palestinians at risk in the fighting.”

From: http://www.vox.com/2014/7/30/5937119/palestinian-civilian-casualties-gaza-israel

An ABC view : http://abcnews.go.com/International/israel-gaza-conflict/story?id=24552237

The Gaza Strip is a Detroit-sized area on the border with Egypt up against the Mediterranean Sea that is one of the most densely packed places on Earth with 1.8 million people living in just 139 square miles. Technically part of the Palestinian Authority, it has been governed since 2007 by the militant group Hamas.

An Al Jezzera story: http://abcnews.go.com/International/israel-gaza-conflict/story?id=24552237

The Washington Post story tells about the conflicting reports on casualties – the numbers of civilians killed <https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/the-un-says-7-in-10-palestinians-killed-in-gaza-were-civilians-israel->disagrees/2014/08/29/44edc598-2faa-11e4-9b98-848790384093_story.html

The irony is that if the radical Arabs would stop trying to eradicate Jews, and the Israelis wouldn’t retaliate (yet not be killed) all who live there could help each other.  The tax rate on everything in Israel is 18%!  Much of the money goes to defense.  It could go to education and health of all its citizens.  The Palestinians are obviously suffering economic hardship.

The situation is complex.  If Israel hadn’t had their “Iron Dome” this last summer or if Hamas had not stored muttons and fighters in heavily populated areas, the death rates would have been much altered.  Palestinians, many of them children and civilians would not have been killed in the retaliation.  This is not a sustainable situation.

I can understand that Jews can’t trust other countries.  While we were in Jerusalem, we met recent Jewish immigrants who feel that France is again no longer safe for Jews.  Jeffrey Goldberg asks, “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe” in the April 2015 issue of The Atlantic (p. 62-75). 

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/03/is-it-time-for-the-jews-to-leave-europe/386279/

I understand why Israel retaliates against Arab attacks.

And I can see how Palestinian frustration and revenge can work too.  The problem is that the few cause trouble for all.  Basic religious tenants promote love and peace.

Jewish people need a safe country, and the Palestinians need a safe country too.  All want their children to be happy and have opportunities.

As a global community, we must work together and respect each other.   Our leaders must find ways to peace beyond bombs.  And individually, we can develop inner peace and hold respect for those who are different from us.

I believe that Gandhi is correct:  “An eye for an eye makes everyone blind.”   The Israeli/Palestinian situation is complex, but surely they can evolve their relationship in sustainable ways to live together in peace.

Whatever your view, the result now is suffering for both sides.

A wall along the Bethlehem/Jerusalem route

A wall along the Bethlehem/Jerusalem route

Would we go back to Israel?

Yes, I would love to return to Israel.  Next time we would rent our own car and so miss the inconvenience for us of Shabbat.

I would visit Servas hosts everywhere – including Palestinian Servas members in Hebron.

Barry and I would visit Ruth and Danny, Claudia and Shumel, Rohee and Etai, and other wonderful people we met.  I’d love to go back to Lotan or do another kibbutz experience.  The music festival was great. I want to go when it’s warm enough even for me to swim in the Sea of Galilee.  I’d like to bike or hike the Gospel/Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Capernaum <http://www.gospeltrail.com>.  And I’d like John to experience the Taglit-Birthright Israel opportunity: http://www.birthrightisrael.com/Pages/Default.aspx.

Our friends Danny and Ruth with their son xxx and Barry

Our friends Danny and Ruth with their son Guy – and Barry in Jerusalem

As poet Elizabeth Alexander says, . . .

What if the mightiest word is love?
Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.
In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light. From<ryfoundation.org/poem/182812
A recent article from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) about Kenya could also apply to the Israeli/Palestinian situation: “[I]t is important to recognize that there are no military solutions to preventing or countering violent extremism. In a statement to the White House more than 41 non-governmental organizations, many of whom work worldwide with vulnerable communities, urged the President to seek alternative measures to ending terrorism. The letter states: ‘Military capacities are ill-suited to address either the drivers or entrepreneurs of violence. Eighty-three percent of terrorist movements that ended between 1968 and 2006 were done so through political settlements or improvements in policing. An emerging body of evidence argues that domestic governance capacities are more effective than increased military capacities in sustainably addressing community grievance.’ . . . The NGO statement to the White House calls for an evidenced based approach that prioritizes civilian led prevention efforts to address human rights grievances and build inclusive governance structures. It calls for reversal in cuts to the State Department’s democracy, rights and governance programs. If we want democracy to flourish, we must invest in programs that can actually make that happen.   From <http://allafrica.com/stories/201507241562.html?utm_content=Link+469009&utm_campaign=E-Newsletter&utm_source=This+week+in+the+world&utm_medium=Email>

With a similar understanding, American/Palestinian poet Naomi Shihab Nye often focuses on the ordinary, on connections between diverse peoples, and on the perspectives of those in other lands. In Hugging the Jukebox, she writes: “We move forward, / confident we were born into a large family, / our brothers cover the earth.”  Surely, there is room for all.

Go visit Israel.  See for yourself.

“What if the mightiest word is love?”  May all beings be happy and free.

Aloha and Shalom,

Renée

Servas Israel Tour – continued – Dinner with Servas Members and a Day in Jerusalem

Jerusalem - important to Christians, Muslims, and Jews

On Friday, we met for dinner with our tour members and Servas Israeli hosts to mingle and share information about our countries.

On the way, we saw old armored vehicles along the road – preserved to remember the many who fought and died so that Jewish people could have a country.

Convoy vehicles from the Israeli War of Independence - 1948

Convoy vehicles from the Israeli War of Independence – 1948

According to “The Convoy Skeletons” by Gil Gertel & Noam Even,[T]he vehicles that brought food, water and arms from Tel Aviv to besieged Jerusalem in early 1948. . . were extremely vulnerable. Piles of stones were placed along the width of the road forcing the drivers to halt. Then snipers hidden between the rocks in the hills near the road, would open fire on the riders and vehicles.

Most of the trucks belonged to various kibbutz cooperative transport companies. Many of the drivers volunteered; the return trip was also via convoy. . . .

LESSER KNOWN FACTS
* During the battle for the road to Jerusalem, 230 convoys set out to bring supplies to the besieged city. . .

* Over 3100 trucks made their way to Jerusalem carrying 10,500 tons of supplies. . . .

* In February 1948 – 1299 trucks made the uphill trip to Jerusalem, in 81 convoys.

The armored vehicles symbolize the courage of those who guarded the convoys and who sacrificed their lives to bring supplies to the besieged city of Jerusalem. In the battles on the road to Jerusalem, more than 400 fighters were killed,

From: <http://www.gemsinisrael.com/e_article000003340.htm>.

Some of our Servas dinner companions: from the right - tagitxx, Sudeshna, Svetlana Pxx, Olga, xxx

Some of our Servas dinner companions: Svetlana P, Olga, Svetlana A.,  Sudeshna, and Tarit

Our Servas Israel hosts served great Middle Eastern food including hummus, wonderful olives, breads, . . .

Lola from Spain, Manda from Sweden, and Israeli Servas hosts.

Lola from Spain, Manda from Sweden, and Israeli Servas hosts

Israeli Servas host sharing his culture

Israeli Servas host sharing stories

Note all the flags:  each represents a Servas Israel Tour member.

Note all the flags: each represents a Servas Israel tour member.

Olga, Svetlana xx, Svetlana P, all from St. Petersburg xxx Russian

Olga, Svetlana P., and Svetlana A., all from St. Petersburg,  Russian

My favorite presentation was the one from Russia (and you will understand why).  The Russian women showed crafts and  gave a slide show about beautiful Lake Baikal, located in the south of Siberia.  We learned that Lake Baikal, which is about 25 million years old, is the largest (by volume) freshwater lake in the world; it  contains about 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water and at 1,642 m (5,387 ft), the deepest and among the clearest of all lakes.   It contains more water than all the U.S. Great Lakes combined!

Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two-thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world.  In 1996, Lake Baikal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   The temperatures are cool:  a winter minimum of −19 °C (−2 °F) to a summer maximum of 14 °C (57 °F).   Lake Baikal is very beautiful and a wonderful place to visit.

Olga giving the Lake Bakal presentation.

Olga giving the Lake Baikal presentation

Then the Russians ladies gave us typical Russian treats to eat and Lake Baikal water to drink.  When the bottle came around, I poured a cup for Manda and another for me.  I took a big gulp —- then I realized it wasn’t clear, cold Lake Baikal water, but another liquid for which Russia is famous: vodka!

For Manda, it was the first time she’d had alcohol in 20 years!  But no harm was done – and we all got plenty of laughs out of the presentation. We could see that Russians are fun-loving people.   Beware, however,  when a Russian offers you “water”!

Stepan from the Czech Republic played his violin for us - wonderful!

Stepan from the Czech Republic played his violin for us – wonderful – and how cute with his hat!

Sasha and Angelica from Belarus (where, among many other things, Russia sends its Olympic skaters for training)

Sasha and Angelica told us about Belarus (where, among many other things, Russia sends its Olympic skaters for training).  Their photos were spectacular.

Sudeshna sang for us - beautifully

Sudeshna sang for us – beautifully

Kashi Lal Sharma from Bhilwara,  India celebrated his 80th birthday on this trip - and shared experiences he's written about in his book.

Kasha Lal  from Bhilwara, India, celebrated his 80th birthday on this trip – and shared experiences he’s written about in his book

Servas Israel members and guests mingle - Anna from Germany on the right xx

Servas Israel members and guests mingle – Anna from Germany on the right

Friendly Israeli Servas hosts

Friendly Israeli Servas hosts

Pray for Jerusalem

Franco Collodet sharing his “Pray to Jerusalem” experience

Send Your Prayer to Jerusalem

Send Your Prayer to Jerusalem

Besides getting to know Servas members and learn about other countries, we also heard from Franco Collodet, an Italian sociologist and philosophy professor from the Institute Volterra-Elia of Ancona.

In several earlier pilgrimages, Franco Collodet has walked the roads of Europe — to Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, and Santiago de Compostela — tracing the ancient routes that arrive in major places of worship.  Collodet says he is inspired by integration among peoples.

In his latest pilgrimage, Collodet walked 4,100  kilometers (2,547.62 miles) from the Cathedral of Ancona in Italy to Jerusalem, arriving on Christmas 2014!   He shared highlights of his “Send Your Prayer to Jerusalem” experience.

Go to: <http://www.sendyourprayertojerusalem.org/index.php/franco>.

Servas members from Germany - Anna, Tomas, ulrike

Servas members from Germany – Gelinda, Thomas, Ulrike.  On the far right, Claudia from Israel with Adam from Poland behind her.

Servas hosts and tour members had a wonderful evening together.

Our following day tour was Christmas in Jerusalem. 

At 10:00 a.m., we met at Jaffa Gate of the Old City and viewed the walls surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem – a city of many faiths.   

Old City Jerusalem wall

Old City Jerusalem wall – bullet holes attest to the passion with which different groups want possession of this important religious city.

Modern entrepreneur outside the Old City walls

Modern entrepreneur – outside the Old City walls – note cell phone in hand :)

Inside the Old City walls: from left, Servas tour members: xxxx, Italy; xxxx, Germany; Roselee, Italy, & in foreground, Marilyn, U.K.

Inside the Old City walls: Servas tour members – Anna Maria from Italy; Ulrike from Germany; Rossella from Italy, & in foreground, Marilyn from the U.K.

Walls painted like this show the householder has been to Medina on a pilgrimage

Walls painted like this show the Muslim householder has been to Mecca and thus holds the honorific title of hajji.  The pilgrimage to Mecca is called the Hajj (or Hajji)

A good Muslim is to go at least once on a pilgrimage to Mecca xxxx

A good Muslim is to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca.  Another Arab Israeli Muslim who lives here within the Old City Walls has done so.

Homes are hidden behind doors and walls within the Old City walls.

Homes are hidden behind doors and walls within  Old City Jerusalem.

Mazes xx of narrow walkways wind around inside the Old City walls of Jerusalem

Mazes of narrow walkways wind around inside the Old City Walls of Jerusalem

A young Jewish boy seems to point us on our way.

A young Jewish boy points us on our way.

A synagogue on the left, a mosque on the right within the Old City Jerusalem walls.  Igor from Russia and Gelindaxxx from Germay xxx

A synagogue on the left, a mosque on the right within the Old City Jerusalem walls. Igor from Russia and Gelinde from Germany

In some places within the walls, archeological digs reveal previous civilizations in the Old City Jerusalem

In some places, archeological digs reveal previous civilizations in Old City Jerusalem

We walked to the Christian Quarter and saw the Franciscan Church of ST. SAVIOUR- St Salvador, a beautiful Italian style church decorated for Christmas.

Inside the Christian xxx

Inside the Franciscan Church of St. Saviour – St. Salvador

Christmas decorated altar at the xxxx

Christmas decorated altar at St. Saviour/St. Salvador

 

 

The Crypt of the Basilica marks the place where after the Resurrection of Jesus, Mary lived and died.

The Church of the Schepuche

The Church of the Sepulcher

Churches from many parts of the world decorate an altar within the Church of the Scelpacure.

Churches from many parts of the world dedicate  an altar within the Church of the Sepulcher

Christmas in Jerusalem

Christmas in Jerusalem

At the heart of the Christian quarter,  The Church of the Holy Sepulcher honors the site where Jesus was crucified, buried, and arose.  The Stations of the Cross end here.

Entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Painting within The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Painting within The Church of the Holy Sepulcher

The site of the tomb of Jesus

The site of the tomb of Jesus

Israeli tour guide Nir xxx

Israeli tour guide Nir Oral – sharing the facts

Pilgrims in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Pilgrims in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

At the tomb of Jesus

At the tomb of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crypts within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  Because this church is controlled by three religious groups, they have yet to agree on how to restore this area that suffered a fire.

Crypts within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

 

 

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is controlled by – the Greek Orthodox, who own its central worship space, the Catholics,  and the Armenian Orthodox.   The three groups have yet to agree on how to restore the crypt area damaged by fire.

We also visited the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.

May Peace Prevail on Earth

May Peace Prevail on Earth

Mt. Zion - important capture in the Israeli War of Independence - 1948

On Mt. Zion – an important capture in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948

Modern Israeli

Modern religious Israeli walk along the Old City Walls.

The Jewish Quarter within the wall of Old City Jerusalem.

The Jewish Quarter within the walls of Old City Jerusalem.

We walked then through the Jewish Quarter of narrow alleys to visit at the Wailing Wall and then climbed up to Mt.  Zion.

Some Jewish people do live within the Old City Walls.

Some Jewish people do live within the Old City Walls.

Pizza and yamakas xxx near the Wailing Wall inside the Old City walls.

Near the Wailing Wall inside the Old City walls: pizza and kippah (or yarmulkes), the head coverings that Jewish men wear to indicate that God is present above them.

Young Israeli soldiers on a field trip near the Wailing Wall.

Young Israeli soldiers near the Wailing Wall.

Protected minora  xx near the Wailing Wall -

Protected menorah near the Wailing Wall

Nir, our great Israeli Servas guide, explaining the  history of Jerusalem

Nir, our great Israeli Servas guide, explaining the history of Jerusalem

The Wailing Wall - a wall from the Jewish 2nd Temple that was destroyed in xxxx.  The dome of the Rock, the Muslim temple gleams in the background as well a minaret on the left.  xxx

The Wailing Wall – the wall from the Jewish 2nd Temple –  destroyed in 66 CE. The Dome of the Rock, the Muslim temple, shines in the background

The Muslim shrine located on the Temple Mount within the Old City Walls of Jerusalem, The Dome of the Rock, is considered by some the “most recognized of Jerusalem’s landmarks.” It was first completed in 691 CE.

The site’s great religious significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims stems from religious traditions regarding the rock, the Foundation Stone, at the heart of The Dome of the Rock.

Although the Israelis captured the Dome of the Rock in 1967 during the Six-Day War, the country gave the Muslims authority to manage the Temple Mount to “keep the peace.”

In 1993, King Hussein of Jordan donated $8.2 million to refurbish the dome with 80 kilograms of gold!  No wonder it glows in the sun.

Then we walked on to visit The Last Supper Room.

Within the Room of the Last Supper

Within the Room of the Last Supper

Within the room where Jesus and the disciples celebrated Passover - the Last Supper.

Within the room where Jesus and the disciples celebrated Passover – the Last Supper.

And we saw Dormition Abbey – a golden, highly decorated church that contains the tomb of the Virgin Mary.

Mary's Tomb

Mary’s Tomb

In the Doxxx Abbey

In Dormition Abbey

 

Jerusalem - important to Christians, Muslims, and Jews

Jerusalem – important to Christians, Muslims, and Jews

We walked again along the walls of Old City Jerusalem back to the Jaffa Gate  – to end another wonderful day full of history and religion and new friends.

Aloha & Shalom,

Renée

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