--Há uma versão em português logo abaixo--
When I was in Europe someone told me that to travel by bike in this region would be like committing suicide. Well, after six weeks cycling in the Holy Land, and more alive than ever, I can only say that I feel sorry for those who let their fears deprive them of the opportunity to experience something as great as this.
My only complaint would be about the heat, but since I was expecting something even worse I can say that even that was OK.
I visited the Church of Nativity, an orthodox church built in the place which, according to tradition, is believed to be the place where Mary gave birth to Jesus. And also the Shepherd's Field, which again according to tradition, is believed to be the place where the angel appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth of Jesus.
|Tomb of the Patriarchs|
On my way to Hebron I could enjoy the amazing hospitality of the Palestinian people. All along the way people were greeting me and welcoming me warmly. I remember cycling through a non-touristic city where people are not used to seeing foreigners. I can say for sure they are not used to see "things like that" moving on two wheels. For them it was like something from another world.
It really touched me, this place has given me the warmest reception since I set out on this journey. Amazing Palestinian people!
In Hebron I slept in a school. I was only going to visit the Patriarch’s tomb there, but I wasn't lucky. The day I went there it was closed for Muslim prayers, and the day after it was closed because of a special Jewish holiday. So I visited the place only on the morning I was leaving the city.
From Hebron I cycled about 40 kms north to Bethany (via Jerusalem). The only place to visit there was the tomb of Lazarus, a place that you can't know for sure if it is the real one, but visiting Bethany is an opportunity to remember that that was the city where Jesus resurrected his friend Lazarus. Something great to think about.
There I slept two nights and not finding any religious institution that could host me, I had to count on the hospitality of locals, which wasn't a problem at all. I had a great time with the people that hosted me there. New friends that I loved meeting, listening to their stories, their struggles, and becoming part of my world.
From Bethany I cycled to Ramallah, the virtual capital of Palestine (Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state). It was about 30 kms, but what made it hard was the hilly area, I got there as tired as if I had cycled more then 100 km.
There I also met interesting people. I entered a commercial building and went to ask something at a computer shop. The shop was closed, but a man from the office next door, who had also come to the shop, learning that I was from Brazil invited me to wait in his office, once there he let me know about his love for Brazil. He has already been in Brazil, and in Porto Alegre my city. He immediately called his Palestinian friend, a successful business man who lives in my state in Brazil and was visiting his father in Ramallah. His friend came to the office, surprised to hear about the "Brazilian on the bike". With him I spoke in Portuguese. We talked a lot, laughed and ate the improvised banquet that his nice friend offered us in his office.
|Yasser Arafat's tomb|
Leaving Ramallah I headed to my last stop in the Holy Land: Jericho. It was a pleasant ride, cycling, all the time downhill. Jericho is in the Jordan valley, 258 meters below sea level.
Jericho is mentioned in the Bible many times. The city was conquered and destroyed by Joshua, the successor of Moses, in the first battle of their conquest of Canaan. It was also the scene of Jesus’ ministry.
Today it's time to end this chapter, I leave Jericho for Jordan, my next stage in the Middle East.
I finish this post saying that if one day I had the opportunity to return, I hope to see a different situation than the one that's going on. I hope to see two peoples living freely, in peace, with dignity, and ensuring that their children have the right to dream without fearing anything.
No matter which side they belong to.