This morning we made a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast in the Hostel kitchen. Before we left, I headed across the street to the local sporting goods shop to see if I could pick up a compass. The place was roughly the size of Herb Bauer's bathroom, but they did have several compasses. The proprietor was somewhat taken aback when I asked her what the local declination was - I guess that's not a standard tourist question. (Declination is the difference between true north and magnetic north - about 15 degrees in Oakhurst.) I looked up Israel's declination later and found it's 4 degrees East, which is not significant enough to create errors unless you're doing precision navigation.
When we got to the car we discovered our battery was dead; apparently the dome light had been left on overnight. It must have been rather comic to see three guys who take pride in always being meticulously prepared stranded on the other side of the world without jumper cables. But as I told Joseph, "The only difference between an inconvenience and an adventure is how you look at it."
The first stop on the schedule today was Capernaum, on the northern shore of Galilee. This city was the location of the healing of the paralytic (Mark 2) and is mentioned numerous times throughout the course of Jesus' ministry. Today there is not much left except the remains of a synagogue and some excavations where Peter's house is believed to have been.
After Capernaum we stopped briefly in Bethsaida, another town on the Northern shore farther away from the water. Bethsaida was built on an artificial mound, both for defense and to command a better view of the Sea.
We had intended to drive up into the Golan heights area during the afternoon, but we were stopped by falling snow near a little town called Ortal. I don't know what all I expected to find in Israel, but I certainly didn't expect snow. After throwing a few snowballs we turned around and headed back down to Galilee.
Israel is like the world's stage - the place where 2,000 years ago God came and acted out His redemption drama. As you drive the roads and taste the food and watch the people, it slowly dawns on you that everything here is archetypical: every city is Jerusalem, every man is Jewish, every mountain is Moriah, every river is the Jordan, every lake is Galilee. Israel is the world.
I've deliberately (and somewhat automatically) framed most of my pictures so as to leave out Israel's dirty laundry, so I feel I should provide some qualification and say that while the country is indeed quite beautiful in many respects, there is abundant trash, plenty of Hebrew graffiti, and power lines everywhere. This situation of grandeur amidst garbage is consistent with the idea of Israel as the world's stage, for anyone who has ever been on a stage knows that as a rule they are simultaneously idyllic and cluttered. The wainscoting, potted plants and effects lighting coexist with crumpled water bottles, blinking electronics, and tangled cables duct taped to the floor. It's not easy being a microcosm of the universe.
When we got back to Tiberias, Joseph and I headed down to the docks to see if we could get a short boat ride on the Sea. After a bit of bargaining, one of the local fisherman agreed to take us out for 20 minutes. After 2,000 years, there are still men here pulling fish out of these waters and making a living at it.