Our final stop in Palestine was at a small mosque, located on the spot where the Muslims believe that Moses died. This conflicts with the Christian and Jewish version which says that because of a sin he committed, he was allowed to look over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, but was not allowed to enter. His brother brought the Israelites the rest of the way. The mosque was full of feral cats, something we have seen almost everywhere. I expected to see more dog packs. Mustafa said that Moslems never let dogs stay in the house because they are unclean. Ken knelt down to take some cat photos, but they were more interested in snuggling than posing.
At the mosque we said a sad good-by to Mustafa, who is not allowed to cross the border we zoomed through today. He called a taxi and took it back to his hometown in Bethlehem where he will spend the afternoon on the church square hustling for tour guide gigs. Last night Ken helped him with some web sites where he might find a job suitable for his skills doing accounting remotely. It would be great if we could hear some good news from him some day. His future feels bleak. His father was a taxi river and Mustafa said his father's life was much better than his even though he is so well educated because he could drive people everywhere without checks and regulations. He worries about what will be left of Palestine for his children.
As we drove toward Tel Aviv, the scenery looked less desert-like and there was more green vegetation. The scenery and temperature reminded me of southern California. Europeans love to come here to escape from the winter. Our hotel is gorgeous with a room overlooking the beach. Because we arrived here during the Sabbath, one of the hotel elevators is designated as Shabat. Observant Jews are not supposed to do work or use power during the Sabbath. Therefore, the elevator stops on every floor so you don't have to push the button. We are gradually being joined by the rest of our travel group which will total about 85 people on four buses. The group is so big because part of the next leg of this journey is on a small cruise ship. Our new local guide Anahid took us on a brief stroll around the hotel area so that we would know where to find lunch, a pharmacy, shopping, etc.
In the evening we had dinner with some locals who tracked us down, because they listen to our RV Navigator podcast and heard that we were coming here. It is always strange to meet with people who know a lot about you: they had listened to us for ten years, when we knew nothing about them. We walked to a local restaurant and the conversation flowed easily for hours. They had lived in the US for a while and RV'ed on vacations in Alaska, so they had a good handle on what we know and things that are very different here. We really appreciated the time they spent with us and hope we can reciprocate when they come to the US again. We were also surprised that two of our fellow travelers recognized us from the CBS Sunday Morning program we were on back in January when we talked about our podcast.