Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jerusalem, Again

I've been out of the blog loop recently, sorry. Partly because, as I've said, I'm thinking before I type. But mostly because - hello - there are six people in this family, and all of them seem to want to use my computer.

What's new, you ask? Nothing much. Work/life balance and all. I love that phrase, work/life balance, because it implies that there actually is a way to balance work and life when the reality is, there are never enough hours in the day, and no matter how you stack those hours up, one on top of the next, there will be days when your carefully balanced tower falls down and crushes you beneath its weight.

So. No work/life balance here. But we did manage to take one day off of work earlier in the month to go to Jerusalem for the weekend.

Jerusalem is super close. If there weren't a border, in fact, we could probably drive there in an hour and a half. But there is a border, an unpredictable border, and there's never a way to know how long it'll take to cross.  This time it took rather awhile to cross. They escorted us in, stamped our passports, and then told my husband to go move the car while we waited at passport control. When he went to move the car, the police stopped him and asked to see his ID. Which was, of course, in my purse, back at passport control. So they detained him in some random part of the building. He tried to call me, but my Jordanian phone stops working at the Israeli border. He started sending me texts, telling me to bring him his ID, but of course I didn't know where he was. Heck, I didn't even know where I was at that point, because they'd brought me and the kids to yet another part of the building to buy car insurance. ("Will you be the driver?" "No, my husband is driving." "Well, he needs to be here to sign the paperwork. Where is he?" Ummm, good question. Why don't you guys tell me where he is?)

Long story short, we eventually found each other, no thanks to the folks at the border, who wouldn't let me go anywhere to try to help Bart. (I actually sent Shay sneaking around in the building, all Mission Impossible-style, trying to find his dad, reasoning that since he was shorter than me he might make it further than I would as a search-and-rescue party. Every time I tried to move from the spot the border people stopped me, but they didn't seem to notice when he wandered away.)

We had planned to cross the border and head south along the Dead Sea highway to visit Masada, where Herod the Great used to hang out back in the day. It took such an interminably long time to cross that we weren't sure if we'd make it there before it closed, but we decided to try anyway.  Well, we did make it there, barely - just in time to catch one of the last cable cars up the mountainside. The views from the top almost made it worth the annoying experience at the border.
That's the Dead Sea back there, with Jordan on the other side.

Kind of makes sense why they chose this place as a fortress. That's a serious cliff right there.

Just once, could I get a picture where all four of them are smiling for the camera?

From there we headed back up the highway to Jerusalem, where we met up with the cousins for dinner. It is so nice to have relatives nearby - first and last time it'll ever happen that way for us in the Foreign Service.

The next morning we met up again for a walk on the Rampart Wall that encircles the Old City of Jerusalem.
That hole in the wall is the perfect size for a kid to slide through - it would never pass U.S. safety standards.
Kyra with cousin Tommy.

Ainsley and Julia.

Us, squinting.

Cousins on the Rampart Wall above the Old City.

Off the Wall now and back in the Old City. Ainsley was getting tired, and she wanted nothing to do with our pictures. But she stuck with it for the whole day - they all did, actually. It was a welcome surprise for their mom.

Here we are at some important site.  That's all I remember.

Heading toward the Garden of Gethsemane. (Which was closed when we got there. All that hiking for nothing.)

Uncle B and the new baby cousin, Patrick, at dinner that night.
Our last day, and the reason we'd come to Jerusalem: our brand new baby nephew was getting baptized. My bro- and sis-in-law had asked us to be the godparents, so off we all went to their church in the Old City to celebrate Patrick's big day.
So cute....

Patrick with his mama.

Julia holding her new baby bro.

Shay wore that little outfit when he was baptized, as did Kyra. And Bart wore it, too,  all those years ago.

Bart, thinking he wants another one. Ha! Dream on, mister!

The god-family.

The real family.

And that was it! We had a quick brunch together before heading back to our side of the River Jordan. And on the way back, we made it through the border in record time - no detentions or anything.

We don't see each other all that often, given the crazy work schedules and the differing weekend schedules. But it is nice having family so close. Maybe we can convince them to move to our next post with us?

And speaking of our next post - have I told y'all yet that we have a post-Baghdad assignment?


Meaghan said... [Reply]

Looks fun - and I'm excited to hear where you're headed next!

I'm starting to actually get ready for our move to Amman (looking like mid July!) and was wondering if you would be available for a few questions via email - if so, just drop me a line (I'm assuming that blogger is like wordpress and you can see my email address)...


Nomads By Nature said... [Reply]

How awesome to have family that close by! Not a shabby place to meet each other either!

JWJones said... [Reply]

Donna, this is Madame (Williams) from Prep. I love your blog. And I can't wait for your next post!

Please. Write your own stuff.