I went to the Old City with a really good friend of mine today. We met up with her boyfriend (who knows it really well) and a friend of his, and wandered the pungent, crowded, dirty corridors as well as the quieter and more beautiful alleyways. We went from the Muslim quarter to the Jewish quarter to the Armenian quarter to the Christian quarter. I stared down something that looks like a well, down to the original remains of the city of Jerusalem. We went to the Church of the Holy Sepluchre – the location of Jesus’ tomb (supposedly) – which is an incredibly beautiful building in terms of architechture and art, not to mention the faith that people bring here. My friend was saying how of course all sects of Christianity hold it as a holy place, so on Christmas and stuff there are massive fights about who it really belongs to.
We also went near the Al-Aqba mosque, the second holiest site in all of Islam (the first being Mecca). It was getting close to the Friday noon prayers (the most important prayer service of the week), so we weren’t allowed in or even near the entrance. There is a covered market area right in front of that area though, where there were all these groups of men sitting, talking, and having a coffee, waiting to go pray. The conflict over this place is that it is built on top of part of the ruins of the ancient Jewish temple, so the Jews want to knock the mosque down so they can pray there. And of course it is superholy for the Muslims – I don’t know the story, but something happened to make it the second holiest site in the whole religion – so there’s no way they would allow that to happen. Isn’t it great the way faith brings people together?
Anyhow, we were starving after all that. We went to a place called Lina’s, where I had the best hummus I’ve ever had in my life. Hands down, bar none. I should have taken a picture, but I was too absorbed with the deliciousness to think about it until afterwards.
Random story from when we were eating – I was telling my friend about this guy I had met a week or two ago who I think is really really cute. But I figured I would never see him again, so whatever. Well this morning, I saw this guy on a bike and thought, wow, that guy is really cute – I would totally date him. Then I stopped in the street and was like Wait a minute… I turned to look again, but he was riding away. I know it was the same guy, though. So I was telling this story, and my friend interrupted because she thought it might be someone she knew (it wasn’t). All of a sudden, this girl sitting next to us was like, I’m really sorry, I didn’t want to say anything, but I totally know those guys you’re talking about – both of them. It was really funny. She said that she had been trying not to listen, but it was too funny not to say anything! I would have been embarrassed, but she didn’t catch our names or anything so I’m not worried. It was humorous though.
After stuffing ourselves with the best hummus in the world (have I mentioned that I will be revisiting as frequently as possible, because it is the best hummus I have ever had in my life?), we decided that we just hadn’t had enough Arab food goodness, so we stopped at this sweets place and had kenafe, this cheese stuff with orange-colored sweet stuff on top. It sounds disgusting, but tastes divine. I decided that I think I should have been Arab, since I LOVE Arab food and sweets – and we all know that I’m all about food.
By then, afternoon prayers were just finishing, so the corridors were crammed with people. My friend wanted to get some stuff, but it was waaaay too crowded so we stood on the side and just watched for a bit. It was incredible, really. I even saw a guy carrying an aquarium over the crowds. Naturally.
It was a wonderful, fun, cultural, unique experience that is part of why I moved to this country. I love it! Now, who wants some hummus?