Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hospitality in Jericho

Jericho is an oasis with several springs of mineral water. Jericho is the oldest documented city in the world. There may be older cities, but so far none has the archeological, carbon dating evidence to prove it. The picture is of a tower in ancient Jericho, which dates over 10,000 years. Yep, 10 big ones.

While in Jericho to see the dig, an ancient sycamore tree, and the ruins of Herod's summer palace, we also ate lunch. I was invited to eat with the bus driver and our guide. It was a feast. First they brought out all types of salad, relishes and humas. The pita bread was toasted over open coals.

Then came the rice dish, served with plain yogurt. (I never would have thought of that combination, but it was good actually.) Then came grilled chicken, chicken wings, lamb kabobs, and grilled lamb chops. The latter were delicious and I said so. So they brought more! I shared with our driver, Abdullah, and ate what I could, but one was left. The waiter, while clearing the plates, took the remaining chop and put it on a bread plate and set it before me. I caught on quickly that I was to finish the meal (clean my plate, so to speak) and so I did.

It was simply too much, but there was more. The dessert was kunafa, a special goat cheese topped with fine honey coated pasta, with arabic coffee on the side. Talk about scrumptious - even though I was about to pop! But it was apparent my hosts were delighted that I enjoyed the meal. When I finished and expressed my appreciation, the waiter brought out a big bowl of fresh fruit and bottles of water. When I couldn't touch it, he bagged it all up for me to carry with me.

Our guide, Munzer, said he ate a big meal at lunch every day, then for supper maybe a piece of fruit and for breakfast a piece of bakery. Every day. I asked if that was common practice, but we were interrupted and I never got an answer. Munzer is on the left and our driver is on the right in the picture of the two guys I ate lunch with.
Jericho impresses you as a place with thousands of secrets, and yet it wears its emotions on its face. The economic depression of the area is obvious, as well as the frustrations of confinement and control. But the people seem to be proud of thei city and their organic, delicious fruit and basically radiate joy, not to mention hospitality.

No comments: