Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Wild, Arabian Nightlife

My first weekend here, my aunt made me go out.
Me: No.
Her: Seriously, go out.
Me: I don’t want to get dressed.
Her: Why are you so lazy?
She picks up the phone and sets up a play date for me. I wish I was kidding.
One of my 800 cousins arrives to pick me up. Technically she’s my 2nd or 3rd cousin and she’s 16 years old.
Me: Are we walking?
Her: I don’t drive.

I hate my aunt.
We walk to this little hole in the wall restaurant called Taboo and I order french fries.

She orders a hookah. I watch her smoke and pick at my half frozen, tasteless, pathetic-excuse-for french fries. Ten minutes later, three little boys walk in to the restaurant.
Me: Look at those little boys, aren’t they too young to be out this late?
Her: Hey! Over here!
She waves them over.
Me: Who is…what? Er…
The children sit at our table and two of them order beers.
Me: Aren’t you a little young to be ordering beer?
They stare at me.
Boy #1: So, you’re the American cousin.
Boy #2: How old are you?
Me: No, how old are YOU?
Boy #1: How old do you want me to be?
Me: Ew, seriously? Am I on To Catch a Predator?
Boy #2: How old do I look?
Me: 12.
Boy #3: We're all 16.
I decide I like the third boy, he wears glasses and didn’t order a beer. Nice kid.
My cousin shares her hookah with the toddlers.
Her: What do you guys want to do tonight? I think Gabby and I are going back to my place if you want to come.
Me: Um, actually I’m tired. Ok fine, I’m not tired but I don’t feel comfortable hanging out with these little boys.

This is what they look like to me - courtesy of a Parenting Blog.
The jailbaits complain that I’m no fun and start smoking cigarettes. That’s the last straw.
Me: This is illegal. This is so illegal. Walk me home. Stop smoking, you are newborns! SMOKING KILLS!
Needless to say, she hasn’t invited me out since.
Then came the following weekend:
My aunt walks in my room and tells me to get dressed, she set up another play-date for me, this time with someone my age.
For Arabs my age who can’t cross through checkpoints, there are two things to do here:
1.       Go to this one club (owned by my cousin)
2.       Go to the other club (my cousin’s rival)
Out of loyalty to my family, I have boycotted club number two. Though I’m convinced the hotel that hosts the other club belongs to someone who is somehow related to me as well. That’s the thing about this village – everyone is somehow related. It’s a little disturbing.

The rival hotel, courtesy of

My aunt’s cousin’s cousin’s nephew (so, a relative) picks me up and asks where I want to go, the hotel’s club or the other club.
Me: Hmm. Let me think. So many options...
Him: Let’s go to the hotel.
Me: Let’s not.
So we end up at my cousin’s. I’ve got to admit, the place is legit. It’s really nice inside, the DJs he hires are surprisingly good and the music is in English. Score!

Cousin and bartenders at club number one.
I spend most of the night refusing drinks from my cousin and explaining I have to be at church in seven hours. (Beit Jala is a small Christian village, if I don’t go to church, the villagers will notice and then judge me. Plus, since I can literally touch the church from my room’s window, everyone including the priest comes to my grandmother’s house after for coffee and snacks.)

I try to avoid being left alone with my play-date because I assume we have nothing to talk about. And after my accidental engagement to a Turkish man, I constantly think everyone is hitting on me.

So our conversations are going like this…
Him: What kind of music do you like?
Me: I have a boyfriend.
Him: Would you like a drink?
Me: I should get home soon it’s getting pretty late.
Him: Are you hungry?
Me: I ate earlier while Skyping with my boyfriend.
Him: I ordered a hookah.
Me: I don’t smoke. You know who else doesn’t smoke? My boyfriend.
Him: It’s for me…
So I sit and watch my play-date smoke an entire hookah, drink and forget about me for another hour. Finally he looks up, sees me glaring at him miserably and agrees to take me home. As we walk to the car, I wonder if he’s had too much to drink.
Me: You only had one drink right?
Him: Yes, get in the car I’ll take you home.
Me: Ok, thanks.
Him: I don’t understand her.

I look around. I’m not sure what he’s talking about.
Him: She broke up with ME.
I groan. Here we go. I don’t know why people think it’s socially acceptable to whine about their relationships after they drink. If I just met you, I probably don’t care. I swear if I hear one more bathroom conversation between girls talking about how they’ve realized they’re “better than that” and they’re “going to live life to the fullest” and find someone who “treats them the way they deserve,” I’m going to throw up on them.

Him: We had a great relationship! And now she’s in Sweden! Sweden? Yes Sweden. Stupid Sweden.
He drives past my house.
Me: Um…you passed my—
Him: And I got a flat tire. At three in the morning. THREE! And I called my dad.
Me: What? My house is back th—
Him: I woke him up. He didn’t mind. Well, what can you do?
I realize he’s slurring.
Me: Are you drunk?! How are you drunk? You had one drink! Stop the car, I’ll drive.
Him: No, don’t worry I drive drunk all the time.
Me: What?! No, that’s not okay that’s dangerous and illegal! You’ll get arrested!
Him: What are you talking about? Get arrested by who?

Good point. I start to panic.
Me: You need to pull over. What if you get in to an accident?
Him: With all of these cars?
I look around. The road is empty.
Him: And then she still texts me in the middle of the night. “I wish you were here to hold me,” she says. Can you believe these things? I wish you were here to hold me?! You know what I says to her? I tell her, “I wish to sleep.”
We are about to pass my house again.
Me: Ok, here is good, just…here. I’m getting out.
He stops the car.
Him: I don’t know what to do.
I realize he’s kind of asking me for advice.
Me: Well, how long were you guys together?
Him: Six.
Me: Six years?! Wow, that’s—
Him: Six days.
I stare at him. Is he joking? I can’t tell. He stares back. Oh my gosh, he’s serious.
Me: Well, that seems perfectly reasonable, um, just…tell her how you feel. Is that my phone? I think my phone is ringing…
It isn’t.
Me: It’s my aunt, I have to go, thanks for the ride! Bye.
So now when my aunt tells me to go out, it goes like this –
Her: You should go out tonight.
Me: YOU GO OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Problem solved.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hagia Sophia and Her Identity Crisis

There are almost 3,000 mosques in Istanbul alone. To those familiar with traveling in the Middle East, you'll understand what I mean when I say, "I don't sleep." I'm always tired. I'm talking tried-to-shampoo-my-face-in-the-shower tired.
If you must know, I blame the Adhan for my lack of sleep. Before you perverts get any ideas, the Adhan is not a person. It is the call to prayer, which summons Muslims to mandatory prayers around five times a day...including the middle of the night. The call to prayer is heard throughout the city.
It sounds like this:

I think it's amazing, it's beautiful, fascinating and incredibly hard to sleep through. Which, I guess, is the point of installing speakers in the mosques' minarets. The video features the Blue Mosque, which I'll get to later. I'm dedicated to helping Hagia Sophia figure out who she is.
Hagia Sophia (Greek for ‘Holy wisdom’) was built in her present form between 532 and 537 by the orders of Emperor Justinian…whoever that is.
Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest examples of Byzantine architecture with its domes, mosaics and marble pillars. 

When I learn this, I quickly ask “532 what? Days?” My question is met with stares and is ultimately ignored. It takes me a while to figure out my tour guide meant the year 532...I’m having an off day. It was originally built in 360 (it was destroyed and rebuilt for those also confused by numbers) by Constantine the Great and served as a cathedral until 1453.

Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the entire world for more than 1,000 years.

The building is made out of materials brought from Athens, Rome, Ephesus and Delphi.
I must’ve spent a good year of high school learning about Constantine (we’re on a first-name basis) but I only remember three things:
1.       He was the first monarch to embrace Christianity.
2.       He called Palestine the “Holy Land.”
3.       He built a bunch of churches in Palestine and made it the center of Christianity.
In 1204, crusaders attacked and desecrated the cathedral, which is why most of Hagia Sophia’s riches can be seen today in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, not Istanbul. Thieves.
I believe at this point, the cathedral became Roman Catholic as opposed to Eastern Orthodox.
Then in 1453, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror wandered in to the city of Constantinople (Istanbul, we’ve covered this) and decided to turn the beautiful cathedral in to his imperial mosque. At least that is what my tour guide says. I doubt the conquest was that simple. I don’t know if my guide is in a hurry to be somewhere or is trying to set the record for fastest tour ever given, but I feel like he’s rushing me. I get this impression from him grabbing my arm and pulling me along.
From then on, Hagia Sophia, who was probably suffering from serious identity crisis, served as a mosque -- the principle mosque of Istanbul for almost 500 years. Finally, in 1934, under Turkish president Kemal Atatürk, Hagia Sofia was secularized and turned into a museum.

Tour guide: "The end."
Me: "But-"
Tour guide: "Back to the bus!"
Woman 1: "Where are the riches now? Poland?"

Woman 2: "No, France."
Me: "Venice."

Woman 1: "Poland is like France, but sideways."
Me: "What? They're in Venice!"

Both women walk away.

Four minarets were added while under the posession of the Ottomans.

Minarets are distinctive architectural features of Islamic mosques.

The Turkish flag has the same symbols as the late flag of the Ottoman Empire.

After the building was converted in to a mosque, the mosaics were plastered over due to Islam's ban on representational imagery. Now that they've been removed, you can still see archangels Gabriel and Michael.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What would Frodo do?

Little shops outside of the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. (It covers more than 58 streets and opened in 1461.) Those who travel to Turkey should know the countries three specialties – rugs, jewelry and leather.
As sophisticated as I’d like to think I am, all I know about Turkish rugs is if you have one, you're probably rich. On top of my lack of interest in leather products and carpets, I forgot to bring my million dollars, which makes buying myself a few diamond earings out of the question. Shucks.
So upon finding myself completely alone in the Grand Bazaar, I skip shopping and begin walking quickly toward what appears to be a Starbucks knock-off when I’m stopped by a Turkish man in his early forties.
“Are you Turkish?” he asks.
“No. American,” I reply.
“American? You look Turkish? No?” His question is answered with a bunch of “Yes, mmhmm’s” from a group of 12 old Turkish men that pop out of nowhere. I’m surrounded.

An example of what an old Turkish man looks like.
Cursing myself for not bringing mace, I politely smile and try to walk through the circle. (I naturally assume I am constantly about to be abducted. Thanks Liam Neeson for scarring me with your spectacular performance in Taken.)
“You are very beautiful,” the man I shall henceforth call ‘Creeper’ continues. “Olive skin like me.”
It's hard being so good looking. 
“Er…Thank you,” I say while walking away.
“I have three shop, I show you.” He is following me.
I wonder what the word for “rape” is in Turkish.
“Um, no I am meeting someone in 20 minutes,” I lie.
He grabs my elbow and begins to steer me down a street.
Shit. I could run but it looks like he knows everyone in the damn city. I assume this based on the fact everyone around is waving and smiling at me. Is this what happens to all his victims? They parade the girls to their death?
“You are scared. I no danger. Be happy.”
It takes every ounce of self-restraint I have not to shout, "STRANGER DANGER," kick the man in the balls and run, because when someone tells you they’re not dangerous that should be a cue to get the hell out of there.
But I'm an idiot.
The next thing I know, we're in a deserted alley. The only witness to a possible missing persons investigation is a cat.

The only witness...half sleeping.

He takes me in to a shop and introduces me to his cousin. I’m guessing it’s not the same cousin he told me lived in America five seconds earlier. One thing I learned through my experience with merchants is it doesn’t matter where you say you’re from – they “have a cousin who lives there.”
I’m in his jewelry shop looking at scarves I could buy from Forever 21 for approximately six cents.
 “Which one you like?”
“Um…this one,” I point to a blue embroidered scarf.
“How much you pay?”
“I wouldn’t pay $20.”
“Ok, 20,” he holds out his hand.
“No. No 20, are you kidding? I’m leaving.”
“Wait, wait…” he blocks the doorway. I imagine karate chopping him to escape. “How much you pay?”
He pauses. He thinks.
“Ok, for you, $10 but no tell no one I give you this price.”
“I’m telling everyone.”
I give him $10 and start to walk away. After 15 seconds of me walking forward without looking back, I turn on to a crowded street and breathe a sigh of relief. I am free.
“What you like?”
Damn it. He was right next to me.
“What?” I ask.
 “Here, come with me,” he holds my hand.
“Whoa. What? No I need to go back,” I pull away, in a rush to meet my invisible friend.
“Be happy, why scared?  I no danger,” he grabs my hand again. “Just hold my hand, look at everyone so jealous.”
I look around and it seems as though every man in the street is grinning at Mr. Creeper, giving him a thumbs-up. I pull my hand away and he grabs it within the second and reminds me to just be happy.
As I’m walking down a busy street in the Grand Bazaar holding hands with a 40-something-year-old Turkish man, I can’t help but remember my mom’s 10 second-long lecture before I left.
It went something along the lines of: “Don’t be stupid. And don’t go anywhere alone.”  
Going somewhere alone was inevitable. I wasn’t going to just stay in my hostel. The 'don’t be stupid' part is debatable…what she calls 'stupid,' I call 'something Frodo would do,' which is also known as 'adventurous.'
I base my decisions by asking, 'what would Frodo do?' I’m still alive, so it seems to be working for me…but I’m beginning to think holding hands with a random Turkish man may fall under the 'stupid' category.
We hold hands in to a coffee shop where he buys us two cups of tea. I wonder if it is poisoned.
“Drink one cup tea means 40 years friendship,” he smiles at me.
“On Facebook? Because I don’t live here, remember…”
“You are very cute couple,” says every stranger who walks in.
“He has no wife,” an old man tells me.
“Oh…I’m…sorry?” I say to Creeper.
“How long you stay?”
“I leave tomorrow,” I lie again.
Clearly this relationship isn’t going anywhere since it’s founded on a bed of lies.
“What time?”
“The morning,” I lie some more, trying to ignore the fact his friends are taking pictures of us on their phones. (Is this what celebrities feel like?)
“You come with me to meet my family? I like you much. Very beautiful.”
“What?” I look around to make sure he’s talking to me.
“You like Turkey, no? You stay here. You want ring? I give you ring. I take care of you. You live with me. What size finger?”
“I don’t know I think 6 – wait, what? No. I have to go,” I crane my neck in search of my invisible friend.
He writes down his email address, phone number and address on a paper and hands it to me.
“You write yours.”
“I … uh… you can have my email,” I write down a fake email address. For some reason, I feel guilty.
“What you do now?”
“I’m going to see the whirling dervishes soon.”
“I come with you, then we eat, drink, talk…” he makes hand motions as if I don’t understand what it means to eat and drink.
“Um I already bought my ticket so … I think it’s sold out.”
“I wait for you.”
“No, no that’s not necessary.”
“Ok. I wait.”
“What? No. Um, I will be tired.”
“I wait for you. You like Turkey, you stay you marry me,” he proposed.
“Hah, yeah…oookay.”
“Ok! What size ring?”
“You like gold?” another old man pops out of nowhere. (They have a habit of doing that.)
Suddenly I’m surrounded by men hugging me and kissing me on the cheek, giving me tea and clapping.
Creeper is smiling from ear to ear.
“Oh shit,” I get up and gather my things.
“You go to show and you call?”
“I have to go,” I say as I walk away and wave to nobody to wait up for me.
“I tell my sister she come, you meet!” he yells after me.
And that’s the story of my engagement to a Turkish man named Creeper.

Mr. Creeper giving me his contact information.
Later that night my room’s phone rings while I was Skyping with my parents.
“Hello? Gabrielle?” I immediately recognize his voice and hang up. I begin to panic. How did he know where I was staying? The phone rings again, I don’t answer. After the fourth call I ask the front desk to turn my phone off while my mom yells at me, “Gabby! You did exactly what we told you not to do!” Standard.
I think he must have seen me carrying the hostel's address because I may be an idiot from time to time but I'm not stupid enough to advertise where I'm staying. Him calling my room definitely creeped me out.
It's not like our marriage would have worked out anyways.
According to the CIA World Factbook, 99.8 percent of Turkey's population is Muslim. I assume if he found out I'm Greek Orthodox Christian, he probably would've dumped me. And I'm not particularly fond of being dumped.
But for all he knows, the engagement is still going strong. 
You're all invited to the wedding.
Mrs. Creeper

Thursday, September 8, 2011

God bless Americuh

Tourists, who are probably American, walking toward Hagia Sophia.

I have this problem where I assume every tourist is an American. They could be Asian and I think, “Asian’s! Maybe they’re from Irvine.”
…They aren’t. I make sure to ask all 500 of them.
I decide to take a group tour of Istanbul since I don’t feel comfortable wandering around alone – especially upon realizing that just because I speak English doesn’t mean everyone else is obligated to learn the language.
I’m sitting on the tour bus waiting for the guide and eavesdropping on conversations around me. There is a German couple, a Brazilian couple, an Indian family from England (I was confused about this for a good half-hour), the entire population of Japan and FINALLY an American couple who sits right behind me (jackpot).
They are in their late forties, early fifties and are both wearing a hat that says, “USA.” Not only are they loud (which makes my eavesdropping easier) but they are also unaware that since this is a tour in ENGLISH, the other passengers prooobbabbblllyyyy understand what they’re saying.
 “Look at all these Asians,” the man says to his wife.
“Yeah, I know! Weird, huh?” she replies.
Mind you, these Asians are sitting across the foot-wide isle. Their ears are literally inches away from the couple’s mouths.
“Where are we going first?” the wife asks her husband.
“I think that one mosque…” he replies.
“Oh where the sultan lived?” she asks, as if there was only one sultan who lived in the only mosque they could possibly be talking about.
“Yeah, with that woman.” (I catch myself making a, “What?” face.)
“Oh yeah, I read about her. Apparently she didn’t take shit from anybody. She would make him do things.” (I’m still making the face.)
“Oh, yeah? That’s unusual for that time, I think.” (I nod to myself. It really was.)
“Yeah, she probably caused a lot of trouble. I kind of respect her ‘cause she sounds like a tough bitch.”
At this point half the bus, including children, has turned around to stare at the couple.
…Ah, Americans. I am home.

That "one mosque where the bitch lived."

Lunch during the tour was sufficiently awkward. Since I was the only solo traveler, I had to choose my seat wisely…obviously I chose to sit by the Americans. I figured we need to stick together.
As I approach their table, I overhear their conversation. On purpose.
“She’s going on a boat to Mexico,” the man says.
“Is she trying to get pregnant?” his wife asks.
“What?! What does that even – why? What?”
I take that as my cue to step in.
“You – speak- English?” the wife asks me. Like I’m a cavewoman.
“Yes. I’m American.” I proudly respond.
“Oh well welcome, welcome!” she says, as though she’s the official spokesperson for Turkey. “You’re here alone?”
“Yes, I just wanted to see the country,” I explain.
“Well you are just the bravest - ”
“Wait, what do you mean?” the man interrupts, still talking about the boat impregnation.
“Well you’re American,” the woman turns to me. “What do you think about a single woman in her 40’s going on a boat to Mexico?”
I pause. “She’s going to get pregnant.”
“SEE! I told you!” the wife punches her husband triumphantly.
So there I am, thinking about Mexican pregnancy and domestic violence when lunch begins.
A Muslim couple I hadn’t seen on the bus sits by us.
After speaking in English for a good 15 minutes, explaining they had just visited Mecca but live in South Africa, the American woman leans forward, wide-eyed and mystified by their story.
 “Africa? Wow! So do you speak African or English?”
I choke on my food and from then on, I chew slowly.
The tour ends with the guide walking up to me and giving me this look where his shoulders are up to his ears, his head is tilted to the side and his face is scrunched like he ate something sour.
This can’t be good.
“We missed your stop, we’re going to Anatolia,” he says. Anatolia is the Asian side of Istanbul and I was staying on the European side, which is separated by a strait. If I cross to the Asian side, I’d have to swim my ass through the large body of water, avoid getting run over by a boat all while keeping my camera dry. I consider renting a bus.
“You have to get off here…”
I look out the window.

The view from my window.
I decide to stare at the tour guide until he changes his mind.
He stares back, still scrunching his face faking sympathy.
The bus doors open.
And that is how I end up in the middle of a random intersection with cars honking at me and no sidewalk in sight somewhere in Istanbul.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Istanbul: Citi of rude taxi drivers

Photo by Gabrielle
Istanbul is the only city in the world that lies on two continents – Europe and Asia. (Needless to say, I was determined to find a way of being in both continents at the same time…so I could shout that I was in both continents at the same time…stop judging me.) The city used to be the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman empires. I forgot everything I learned about the empires, but I’m sure they were important.
Istanbul’s old name of Constantinople came from the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, who rebuilt the city on seven hills (like the famous seven hills of Rome).
Istanbul was the 2010 Capitial of Culture and is currently bidding to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Not only did the famous Trojan Wars take place in Turkey, it is also the birthplace of Homer himself, along with King Midas, St Nicholas (that’s right…Santa Claus), Herodotus (the father of history) and St. Paul (the Apostle.) Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey and Jay Z Julius Caesar proclaimed his celebrated words “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered) there when he defeated Pontus.
Two of the seven wonders of the ancient world were in Turkey and it is said the Garden of Eden was too - which I find interesting since the first human civilization was in Turkey. (Part of Mesopotamia is in modern-day Turkey.)
As much as I’d like to pretend these fascinating facts were the reason I chose to visit Turkey…I can’t lie. I saw a commercial where this couple moves to Istanbul – it looked awesome. I was particularly interested in the whirling dervishes and spice market.
Turkey it is, I decided. Thanks Citi Bank.

I can't decide if the commercial worked on me or not. I didn't join Citi Bank... but I flew to Istanbul.
Right when I stepped off the plane I immediately started sweating. (Charming.) I don’t understand Celsius (frankly, it’s just un-American) but I’m pretty sure I could’ve cooked an egg or two  on the sidewalk.
Before I left Orange County I made sure to print out directions from the airport to my hostel (at least I think that’s what it was – the addresses in Turkey look like someone slammed on their keyboard and decided “aisgwp9oshafaw3ea” sounded reasonable enough.)
I find a line of taxis and being from California, I’m unfamiliar with taxi etiquette. Do I just step in the car? Do I wave? Do I smile and wait for their reaction? I felt like I was partaking in some type of mating ritual. Maybe if I show off my luggage they’ll like me and let me in their car. Finally I made eye contact with a driver who nodded, which I assume in taxi-mating means I found a match.
“Hi,” I say while rummaging through my bag for the directions.
He replies with a grunt. I couldn’t tell if it was in English or Turkish.
“Han Hostel North, please.”
He stares at me in the mirror.
“Er…here.” I say handing him the directions.
He continues staring at me in the mirror.
I put the directions in his face and point at the name of the hostel.
“Tsk tsk tsk tsk,” he replies as he starts to drive.
I couldn’t believe I got tsk’d. It was the same tsk my dad gives me when I say a bad word or burp too loudly. And I still wasn’t sure if he knew where I needed to go.
“Do you know where that is?” I ask.
Thus began my inner monologue, which went something like this: “Okay…did he hear me? He probably didn’t…He’s not answering. Is he ignoring me? He must’ve heard me. Did he hear me? I don’t know. This is awkward. Where am I going? It’s so damn hot. I think he’s mad at me. I bet it’s because I’m American. Why does everyone hate us? I should make friends with him.”
“So, how do you like being a taxi driver?” I ask, trying to make small talk.
He nods.
“Great. That’s nice. Me too,” I say. Apparently I’m a taxi driver.
At this point it’s pretty clear the man doesn’t speak English and in the 30 seconds of knowing him (which I assumed would become a long – lasting friendship), I managed to piss him off.
Little did I know this was pretty normal for taxi drivers. My experiences with them made me feel like a horrible person. My second time using a taxi, the driver sighed heavily from the moment I entered his car to the moment I exited. My third time using a taxi the man continuously “ay-yi-yi” ‘d entire time.
There was always a language barrier but the apparent disappointment I caused these men could be understood universally. I concluded that drivers either hate their lives or I’m just an asshole.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The West Bank and Haifa, Israel 2010

Locals told me Arabs are not allowed to refurbish their homes under Israeli law. Many houses are not in the condition to be lived in. The Arabs I spoke with believe this is another way Israel is forcing Arabs out of their homes.

The marketplace is called "souq."

A lifegaurd tower appears abandoned along the Mediterranean Sea.

Another building that could not be refurbished.

A graveyard in Jerusalem.

The Golden Gate in Jerusalem is said to open when the world ends.


The Mediterranean Sea.

An Israeli checkpoint separates Arabs and Jews.

The Lord's prayer in different languages.

Haifa, Israel

Baha'i Shrine and Gardens, Haifa

Photos by Gabrielle