Monday, 30 March 2009

A Legend- Ibrahim El Hawa

Ibrahim has kept an open house for decades.He has just given us a great meal.We are overlooking the Dead Sea from the Mount of Olives.Ibrahim travelled all over the world (without a passport)spreading his message of Peace.He has been taken advantage of by 'Born Again' (his words)types running up his phone bills etc.

Visiting Friends

The Visitation of (Mary to Elizabeth)took place at Ein Karem.Paul met Rory Greeba who are volunteering there.John the Baptist grew up there.A beautiful place.Patsy,Thomas and James met Toni in Yad Vashem.We had dinner with her friend in a mediocre overpriced West Jerusalem 'Fish Restaurant'.
Patsy saw the Doctor.Thomas went walkabout partially filmed a boycott Israel demo.
James spent hours in On the Seam museum.Paul briefly went round then visited David & Althea at the peaceful Garden Tomb.

Patsy in The Holy Sepulchre

Patsy entered The Old City of Jerusalem & felt a sense of fulfillment & achievement.The next day - Sunday - Patsy & Paul went to the Holy Sepulchre.The Bishop concelebrated High Mass with several Priests.The Mass was sung in Latin & Arabic.Patsy was moved by the joyous occassion.They managed to sing along with the aid of hymn sheets.About 4 times they were drowned out by one of the Eastern Rite priests.Patsy felt it was fantastic to be part of an Internatinal group.
Thomas,Patsy & James went to Yad Vashem -the Holocaust Museum.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Great Julie

Happy Birthday,
Paul xxxx


we negotiated the airport style the checkpoint at the edge of Ramallah.Thomas said he felt like a "rat in a trap".We had numerous Settlements pointed out to us on the way into the City.The entire way on asphalt was hard on the legs.
The Capitol Hotel is a better standard than on the rest of our travels.
Paul is at the nearby St Georges complex.It's one of the few places in East Jerusalem that sells beer!Apart from Patsy we all visited the Holy Sepulchre.New to Thomas - "Museum".He said that before he saw part of 3 Liturgies...
Trying to sort out a visit to Ein Karem to see Rory & Greeba tomorrow


The walk to Ramallah was mainly on roads & uneventful until we got to the main checkpoint.By then we were 3 Pilgrims & two Palestinian Guides.Initially,we were all stopped & told no-one thru on foot.One of our group thought a soldier directed us to walk around the checkpoint thru a field.We did - all of us- & began walking up the road.A humvee & 4 soldiers soon approached.After about 20 mins negotiation & calls to their Officer the soldiers let the 3 Pilgrims thru but not our Guides.By an unprintable arrangement a car delivered the two Palestinians to us only 400 metres from the checkpoint!The Security aspect of the Wall is at the very least in part a farce.
We were shown round the Birzet district of Ramallah by the engaging Raydeh.Their Church in common with many we have seen was beautiful.We slept in a very cold 'community' hostel with very basic facilities (in daylight it was warmer outside!)

Ephraim / Taybeh / Salah-ad-din

Toughest day from Doma to Taybeh.James was taken to hospital by George for his Rabies injection.Habib took him past the Bedouins wild dogs.James was understandably wary.It was after he left the terrain got worse & worse.Rocky hill after rocky ravine after rocky hill.Its not so much the height as the concentration & difficulty of finding a decent foot grip.Eventually,it became too much for Patsy whose left leg ghave in.We had to arrange transport to our destination.
We found James at Al Mugharayir in a barber shop with half the male population of the village (females are seen to & from shops only).They insisted we all have a cup of coffee.The legendary Palestinian hospitality is absolutely true.In general you would struggle to find a nicer bunch of people.
We reached Taybeh & it is the most beautiful village we have seen in the Holy Land.
We had a very interesting Guided Tour from Keries & Nader.
Taybeh is Ephraim visited by the Lord after He had raised Lazarus & before he entered Jerusalem.All the surrounding villages were Christian until Sala-ad-din & his Army arrived.As resistance brought a swift & final solution conversion or payment of a 'religious' Tax were the options all the other Christian villages were too poor to pay so became muslims.Ephraim people slaughtered their sheep & made a feast for the troops ,welcomed Salah-ad-din & billetted his troops.So he allowed them to retain their Ancient Faith & gave them the name "good people" ie Taybeh.The people have retained Christanity through conquest by Marmaluke,Turk,in the mandate & Israeli rule.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Tom & Jerry

Walked 8 hours including rest stops from Nablus.Staying at the Guides house.Habib provided us with a hearty chicken meal with two kinds of broth we have not had before.It was very good.The first meal without humous on the table (usually 3 times a day!)At his friends house on computer - being fed a fruit similar to grapefruit but not the same.We have been treated very well everywhere we have been.Everyone is very friendly.They laugh when I tell them you all think we will get shot or blown up.
Israelis & Palestinians think the media is against them.Most of the Palestinians we meet are very politicised.Several of the homes have photos of Shahid's (Martyr's).My computer host tells me as I write how the problem between I & P is like Tom & Jerry - it will never end...

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Health Bulletin

08:20 hrs 25th March.James injections seem to have prevented the onset of Rabies.Patsy fighting fit - slow but sure.Thomas has blisters but they seem better after Turkish Bath.He has put gaffer tape over them.Paul has only one blister but a streaming cold has developed into a chesty cough.Joints still OK


Walking from Al Fara we expected rain as the previous night was a violent storm.
Before we were half way the rain had turned to hail.Fortunately,it was showers rather than a sustained downpour.We passed Jabel al Kabeer on top of which is an Israeli settlement.It was very very windy as we walked for a couple of hours passing opposite the Jebel.The countryside is very hilly & in parts spectacualr.Most of it is beautiful.We reached Nablus & visited a place called Joseph's Tomb (he with the coat of many colours) it was a place of squalor.An apparent scene of conflict between Israeli Settler;s & local Palestinian's.We had a Tour of Old Nablus & on many street corners saw pictures of "Martyr's" killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers.
We then had a good sauna & massage at the famous Turkish Bath house.
Eventually getting to Asia Hotel were we had a spicy chicken meal.

The Wall

We arrived at the Jalama Crossing to be told no foreigners after 12 noon.We drove the 50 km in a taxi to the next point & were just nodded thru by a soldier.We arrived in the evening in Haddadland a theme park after changing taxis inside the West Bank.George of Siraj Centre gave us a comprehensive view of the political situation.We had a good meal as we discussed.We drove to Faqua & begun the walk.Very hilly,many places uneven under foot.Making slow going for some.We arrived at Zebabdeh & went into the Church of Visitation.We found our accommodation in an Agricultural Centre & had a modest evening meal follwed by sleep & breakfast.

Husam,family & Khaled

We left Gazit & walked across the fields to Taibi.The little children greated us with Shaloms.An rab Town they thought we were Israelis.Husam gave us coffee & we met his friend Khaled.We found our Taxi

Kibbutz Gazit

It was a great momentfor Paul to see his old Volunteer Leader again.The group were introduced & Thomas interviewed him on film.

HooHa best breakfast West of Saigon

Several year's ago Paul had a sumptuos breakfast in a Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.Hooha's was the best since then.So good he did not relise it was vegetarian until near the end.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Route- Israeli Map 1:50,000 essential

Apologies in advance for mis-spellings etc
Faqua 09:30 hours Sunday 22nd March 09
From Mosqe at East of Town take road downhill going South.After 200m go uphill T(urn) R(ight).see Jenin to West.Take R direction of Dav Haduff (Monastery Town)pass plastic Greenhouse on L(eft) & T R & immediate L between Olive Grove & small green plants to road (brown & white on Map)T L then R at Aus Aid & 3 Flags onto asphalt road for 50m then left at first pylon walk down hill between crops in fields.
Go R side of Olive Trees then thru middle on tractor tracks.(10:45 hr) then snake L then R to bottom of valley.L onto dirt road for 50m.(on map 1868\2068).T R climb upthru Olive Trees no path keep brown walled cultivation area on your R/climb keep cactus grove on your R.climb to Well then faint path at 45 degree angle upwards on L.
Straight up thru rocks & trees.At flatish top walk thru Olive grove (11:45hr)towards small hill until faint tractor track to very top T L onto clear dirt road for few hundred m.T R.when path becomes faint don't go straight but T R after 100m sweeps R downhill leaving path T L go down shallow valley after 20m path re starts.Long way down thru Olive trees.All way to forest & thru to West side of Al Mughiyyir.At asphalt road T L for 150m then R tractor tracks downvalley to fork go R down another valley.T junction of valleys T R for few hundred m then L upanother valley.All way up to a 3 way split take R valley bend R along flat valley with green almonds & wall along middle.rise slowly veering R & up above cultivated Olive groves along grassed (spring only?)tractor track.At end of Olive Groves T R uphill.At topT L at 6ft high stones (Olive grove in front-small hill behind them)Keep Olives on R aftewr100m cross impacted dirt road walk thruOlive Trees (Talfit on R)At end T R on dirt road with cultivated plain on L for few hundred m until asphalt road.Walk about 1km to Zebabdeh.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Mount Tabor

Met David Landis - co-founder of Jesus Trail- & his friend Anna at Fauzi Azar Inn for breakfast.They are doing great work promoting the Jesus Trail with the Israeli Authorities.
David's advice on a route out of Nazareth on the way to Mt Tabor was invaluable.
Again we set off later than anticipated but we made good time to the foot of the mountain.It was a hard slog up the mountain from Dubbaraya (apologies for spelling)laden with water & food.1 hour 25 minutes - 2 hr 5 minutes was the Groups time.
The Jesus prayer every inch of the way ensured all four of us got to the Monastery (reputed to be the most beautiful in the Holy Land )at the top before it closed.
We had problems in the dark on the way down again.At least it was not life threatening.
All Paul's joints OK.Patsy battling on well.James dogbite doesn't seem to be causing any problems & Thomas is heroically carrying all his excess camera gear.

We are now at the unlikely named HooHa Cyclists House in Kfar Tavor.A strikingly futuristic looking place.We thought we had the place to ourselves.Paul was ready for shower/jacuzzi when a couple wandered into the lounge area.
The guy wore a look that said "member of the trans world......."
As it was pre shower it must have been an 'olfactory experience' for them both!
The Man on a Donkey - BBC journalist Aleem Maqbool has now contacted us...

(Terrific Draw! - Matthew,Myron & Red Dave - thanks for letting me know)

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The Basilica of The Annunciation

At 6pm Thursday 18th we all went to Mass for the Feast of St Joseph.The celebration was in Arabic & Latin with a touch of Greek.The chief celebrant was the Bishop.The place was packed.After Mass the Bishop & people processed with the Icon of St Joseph to the Grotto of Annunciation.Veneration took place.Patsy & Paul were right at home.James & Thomas.....
We spent a good while looking at the contributions of many countries to the outside fo the Basilica - mosaics of Mother & Child
We still have not got accommodation for tomorrow on Mouint Tabor.We think we have sorted out James' rabies injections for 22nd & 26th when we are in the heart of the Palestinian Territories.
We have been received well by everyone.With enthusiasm by most people.
We are now in the Fauzi Azar Inn.This really is a lovely place.The 5* pina colada brigade would not give it a second glance & if they did they would not appreciate it.The four of us are in the same room Paul was 2 years ago.
Thomas is conducting a series of interviews for The Film - must go.

The 'Angel' Sara - Arbel Guest House

Sara & Israel welcomed us to their lovely Guesthouse.Although,shattered we somehow kept talking about our experiences & backgrounds until about 1am.
James was taken to the Doctor by Sara.She spent the larger part of her day looking after James.When they returned from his Rabies injections (several hundred shekels poorer) we set of walking.At 2pm we headed for the Horns of Hittim.A rugged but beautiful walk.Nearby was the site where the Soldiers of the 3rd Crusade were trapped & dying of thirst when they faced Saladdin's Army & were defeated.
We had a phone number for accommodation in Cana.It turned out to be very difficult to get sorted out.We stayed 10 yards from The Wedding Church of Cana.The place was good but ridiculously expensive.
We had a modest breakfast thrown in.As we went into the Church we saw a Bride walking into her wedding - stunning (nearly as beautiful as a certain 'little person'.
We could not get into the Greek Orthodox Church as they were cleaning.
The walk from Cana to Nazareth was uneventful & boring as it was road all the way.
We arrived at the Greco-Roman Bath House to be greeted warmly by Elias & Martina.
Patsy,Thoams & James were as impressed as Paul had been a couple of years ago.
Thomas interviewed Martina.Paul 'guided' Patsy & James round Nazareth.Patsy made a donation (in dollars)& prayed in the White Mosque on behalf of her neighbours in Highfield,Keighley.

'Rabies' in the Ravine

At Ibillin we met Michel Chacour,nephew of Archbishop Elias Chacour.He gave us a tour of the nearly completed Church.We went around the schools.There are 75% muslim students. The rest Christian,they also have Jewish students studying extra curricula subjects.The head teacher of one school is muslim.They have Jewish,Christian,Muslim & Druze teachers.
We drove from Ibillin to Tiberius & stayed at the very basic Aviv Hostel.Althopugh,4 beds crammed into a small room we managed to leave a 12" gap between the men's 'triple bed' & patsy's single.I won't say who snored enough for Paul to bring out the earplugs...Machael had suggested we find the Melkite Catholic Church in Tiberius Old City.We met Nami who looks after the Church - we wished we had booked accommodation there.We did go back for breakfast.We got a Taxi to Capernaum on morning of Tuesday 17th.
We visited Capernaum Church & synagogue.Prayed together on camera ( a new experience).
About half an hour's walk away is the Church of Beatitudes.We got there just as they were closing for lunch.We then walked to the nearby Churches of Peter's Primacy and Loaves & Fishes.All different styles.
We then followed the Jesu Trail - backwards,This has proved challenging to say the least.After 15 minutes we missed a left turning & lost maybe 45 minutes.We more or less had to walk near to the road to Migdal Junction - several miles.Then the fun really began.As we entered the ravine between the mountains a dog bit James.We were running out of daylight but thought we had time to climb up & over the cliff.
Thomas was struggling with pack,camera,tripod & equipment.We ran out of daylight!We dedcided that as we had come so far we wouldn't be beaten.It's quite amazing just how much you can see on a 3' wide ledge even in darkness.I eventually found my headtorch.We walked along the ledge - slowly & found the way over the top.It was a series of Vertical (no exaggeration) small metal handholes.It looked like suicide for a monkey without baggage in daylight!We decided to go back to the beginning of the ledge.Then the group decided to go the longer 'easier' route.Judging by our efforts thus far we calculated 2 hours round the rim of the cliff & smaller climb.As we edged along the ledge facing the Sea of Galilee the ledge narrowed.We cornered to face the Sea & the wind blew.We dreaded the thought of rain - slippy!Thomas scrammbled about 20 metres straight up scree with only a 4'ledge to stop a 1000' drop.Thomas vanished out of sight,we could only see the torch as we waited in darkness.On his return Co-ordinator's veto 'vote'took us slowly down the Mountain.We had been on the Mopuntain in the dark for about 4 hours...
We secured transport to Arbel Guesthouse.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Holy Land

00:40 hrs local time, this will be brief.
Went to wrong terminal at Manchester Airport.Took off on time.Got Rental car,nicely fit all four of us & luggage.James more efficient but not as good looking as my regular navigator.Got to Haifa 50 mileish from Airport no probs.Got lost trying to find Arab village of Ibillin.In middle of nowhere our first Guardian Angel appeared & had us follow him in his car.When we eventually took a wrong turning & got to Ibillin West we found Angel 2 - Husam (apologies for spelling).He drove all the way to Mar Elias schools.A great guy name Ammar has fed us given us tea & rooms.James,Patsy & Thomas are knocking zeds out.
Need to find ear plugs in case those zeds are too loud!

Friday, 13 March 2009


Before we start on our new journey a few Thankyou's are in order.
First Karen for putting up with what to most people are my crazy ideas.
The steadfast support of my family.
Tony's IT skills for the last 3 years - he's now passing the baton to Howard at Local Life in Bingley.The proprietor's & staff at Speakes in Keighley Outdoor store for their knowledge,advice & discount.Matthew & Chris' endeavours to get this blog sorted.Liz,Steve,Chris & Amplitude with maps.John for Health & Safety advice.
A special thankyou to Heather who having paid a substantial deposit had to pull out and insisted on Goodwill Walk keeping the money.(H,I'll tell you later what I have done with it.)Dawn for First Aid advice.Fiona for past & future blog inputs.Neil for Map Reading training.Mirhan at Keighley News for his articles.
Repeated donations from the Parishioners of St Joseph's,Airedale.
Mum & Dad's 'prayer team'.
The Angels who appeared from nowhere on the Way of St James & those we have yet to meet on the Jesus Way.

Goodwill Walk explained

The idea of Goodwill Walk is to bring people of different backgrounds together by the simple means of walking together. The name ‘Goodwill’ was chosen because this is what is needed for people of different backgrounds to get along together.If you look at,, and you will see other people are already working on the same idea.
My motives are exactly as they describe.

The route Goodwill Walk-Jesus Way links the Jesus Trail (pioneered by Maoz Inon, David Landis, Matthew Cooper & Nathaniel Herr) which runs from Nazareth to Capernaum with the Nativity Trail replicating Mary & Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
In 2000 the Alternative Tour Group re-started this route travelling via Jericho.
In December 2008 BBC journalist Aleem Maqbool walked with a donkey on the Nativity Trail. However, he walked due south through Ramallah & Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

The Goodwill Walk through the Holy Land – 2009 will start from Capernaum next to the Sea of Galilee up to Nazareth. Then we will follow a route similar to Aleem Maqbool. Our walk ends in Jerusalem. For me our Route it is The Passion Trail – similar to The LORD’S journey to His Passion & Resurrection.

I use the word ‘Way’ as this describes many Pilgrimage Routes in Spain eg Way of St James.My reasoning is the several ‘Trails’ can be linked to become a larger ‘Way’. I hope the economic benefits – new hostels, hotels, restaurants, cafĂ©’s etc- walkers bring to N Spain can be brought to the people of the Holy Land.