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Posts Tagged ‘Acre’

A Step Back in Time

image from www-josephinewall-co.uk   Spirit Elements

“If you learn to really sit with loneliness and embrace it for the gift that it is…an opportunity to get to know YOU, to learn how strong you really are, to depend on no one but YOU for your happiness…you will realize that a little loneliness goes a LONG way in creating a richer, deeper, more vibrant and colorful YOU.”
Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

I had really enjoyed my wandering around Tel Aviv. After 12 days I was still awed by the flow of life which seemed a constant all day long. The Boulevard seemed like a true social gathering place. The coffee shops, restaurants and ice cream parlors were fabulous and the beach side bars had an ambiance all their own. I found myself relaxing and as I continued my walks along the Boulevard I also noticed I was breathing easier, the tension was finally leaving my body. It was so strange but so good at the same time. I couldn’t remember when I had last felt this lessening of tension. How long had I been carrying that around?

However, I wasn’t going to wander around for my entire stay in Israel. I had decided to go on a three week tour, 9 days in Israel, 7 in Egypt and 5 days in Jordan. It was a historical tour, but not a religious tour, which was exciting.  On day 13 of my stay the people who were going on the tour with me arrived in the hotel, and I was pleasantly surprised to find another Australian amongst the group. M was a vivacious young girl, the same age as my daughter, and we hit it off from the outset. The rest of the group comprised mainly Americans with a couple of Canadians, two people from Brazil and an English couple just married. It promised to be a great trip.

Early the next morning we set off and the first ‘adventure’ a walk around the old port city of JAFFA! It was so different from my solitary wanderings as we heard the history of the site. We had been blessed with a tour guide who had studied archaeology and so the history became a living breathing excursion. If I went over all the history of each place I’d need a novel, so I scribbled when I could and took pictures instead. Standing at the top of the hill and looking out   over the ocean or looking towards Tel Aviv there was a feeling of freedom. I was fulfilling a dream, a dream both Mum and I had shared for years, and I was learning more about myself each day.

As we walked around Jaffa, it was astonishing to see the additions of rooms to the outside of buildings as they ran out of room to expand, and the giant hanging orange tree. My notes said,” The Hovering Orange Tree, in the centre of Old Jaffa is supposed to be a symbol of Israel’s prosperity, and some see in it a metaphor for the Jewish people, hanging between heaven and earth with their sufferings.”  Hundreds of years old it made me feel as though the people of yesteryear were walking past me to water the tree.

Irrespective of what the travel brochure said, it’s an incredible sight to see. We saw the miniature city of Tel Aviv and walked along Ben Gurion Boulevard, through the Hacarmel markets and got to soak up the atmosphere of Tel Aviv. The markets were an incredible experience. Crowded like nothing I’ve seen before there were stalls offering so many different things it was difficult to take it all in. There were the traditional type of craft stalls, beautiful clothes, so much colour it hurt the eyes, and food, so many smells to tempt the hungry, but we had a special dinner arranged so we had to get back to the hotel. It felt as though we had wandered into another world and when we left we walked out into this world.

The next day we left by bus and traveled up the coast up to Haifa and then on to Caesarea.  Walking through the ruins and listening to the multifaceted history of life from the Byzantine era through the Roman era to present day was mind blowing. I should add I adore history and this was history made live before my eyes. Yes, I was excited.  It was believed built on the ruins of “Straton’s Tower’, captured by Jannaeus in 90BCE until taken over by the Romans in 63BCE. Herod the Great renames it Caesarea in honour of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. He built a deep sea harbour, markets, and held gladiator games in the theatre. Caesarea also flourished during the Byzantine pe

The area became a serious farming area until the Crusader conquest in the 11th century. The farms were buried under the sands shifting along the shores of the Mediterranean. The Mosque on the site was converted into the church of St. Peter in the Crusader times. From then it had a chequered past, seeing the area inhabited by various people until the Israelis took control during the 1948 conflict.  I felt as though I was travelling away from all the problems I had back in Australia and I was being whisked away back in time. Despite the throngs of people there were occasions I was alone and then there were chills at times, as I felt someone from a bygone age brush past me.

From here we went to Acre or Akko as the Israeli now call it, at the northern end of Haifa Bay. It has a historical lineage like Caesarea. It has been inhabited by the Greeks, Jews and Romans. We traveled in our explorations from the Byzantine era, Persian¸ 1st Crusades, to Saladin then the 3rd Crusades (Richard 1st of England), to the Mamluks, Ottomans and eventually the British. It was during the British Mandate that Acre’s fort was converted into a jail where the early Jewish underground fighters were imprisoned and shot. In May 1947 the Irgun broke into the jail, freeing the other activists and around 200 Arab prisoners. In May 1948 the Israeli’s captured Acre and it has remained in Israeli hands ever since.  Parts of the jail are still in use although it is possible to see those areas which are no longer used.

As we walked around, seeing the layers of history as we went through the ruins and up to the level the jail was at the top was a strange experience. It felt, at times, as though there were crowds of people whispering behind you, all in different languages. There was a real sense of impending doom and death in certain places.  My skin would suddenly ripple with gooseflesh, I would almost hear the sound of screams, and once I felt the definite pressure of a hand on my shoulder.

It seemed that as my cares back in Australia fell away and my mind was freed from thinking about them, I was open to hear and feel more of the spiritual experiences I had begun to feel I’d lost, when Mum had passed away. In a strange way, it also felt as though the years were dropping away too, and I became more carefree and light hearted. This was what I needed. I was finally beginning to find myself.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
― Rumi

Blessings, Susan x

Next week – More Revelations

© Susan Jamieson 2013

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