We live in a strange world. Have the Four Ms mentioned it??? John and I spent the first 30 years of our lives together eating Mac & Cheese, clipping coupons, raising kids and just generally hunkering down. It seems like just about the same time the kids moved into their adult lives, we achieved financial security (meaning if we really wanted a sparkling slam-dazzle, we'd buy a used one).
This cruise we went on was the dream of a lifetime. We'd saved our money, and once the kids were truly launched (meaning both boys are homeowners and taxpayers), we started fulfilling OUR dreams. A two week cruise through the Eastern Mediterranean was high on our list. I wanted to do it while I was ambulatory (darn that MS) and John wanted to do it since he just loves me and travel, not necessarily in that order!
So we found a great deal on the cruise of our dreams, courtesy of our excellent travel agent. We booked our passage, packed our drugs and passports and headed off into the Land of the Ancients.
We started in Rome and ended up in Athens. We spent three days in Rome including Good Friday at the Vatican. We tramped all over the Colosseum (barely missing the Pope), ate pasta, drank wine and fussed over my lost luggage.
By the time it was found, it was sixty-some hours later, and I'd had to shop in Rome for new clothes. I'll get reimbursed for them, but I learned the hard way that there are no WalMarts in Italy. There also seems to be no exact sizing in Italy other than two sizes: anorexia and morbidly obese. So with a minimum of morbidly obese clothing, we set off on our cruise our the fourth day into the trip.
I have never seen more ruins in my life. From continent to island to continent and then back to island, the Eastern Mediterranean is an homage to the past. We saw Southern Italy, Sicily, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, Greece and various points along the way. We saw ruins of Islam, Christianity and Jewry.
We flitted from one century to another, seeing ruins from BC times, early Christianity and Islam. We saw Cathedrals, humble chapels, synagogs, temples, mosques - and related religious sites. We visited Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, the birthplace of Jesus, the wailing wall, an Islamic mosque - everything.
I covered my head, covered my shoulders, bared my soul and went the Way of the Cross. I saw all districts of the Old City in Jerusalem, a ruin of the home in Nazareth rumored to be Jesus's boyhood home, different churches (Church of the Holy Sepulcher was fantastic). and just drank up the spiritual beauty of the Middle East.
Which begs the question - Why, if this is such a Holy Land, can't people manage to get along? Why does one belief need to exist to the extent that all others are demolished? Why, in God's name (literally) can't people live together and worship individually?
The Middle East is the seat of Western Civilization (go figure). Greek, Romans, Turks, et al, find their origins here. Why can't we all try to get along when everyone wants to get even?
End of rant - but more to come.