Today we wandered around the Old City. It’s divided into quarters on the map, but there is no physical distinction on the ground. The feel just changes suddenly as one crosses a particular street; the signs change from Hebrew to Arabic, and the peyes are replaced by veils. It’s an almost jostling change in culture, and reaffirms the difficulty of drawing boundaries on such an ethnically and historically dense space.

00113

00113

Varouj

At a photography store, we wandered in and marveled at the prints. Varouj, the elderly proprietor, introduced himself, and we spent an hour with him discussing the history of his life and this place. He had been in the same store since 1963, and had taken a famous picture of King Hussein of Jordan. Because he is Armenian, he had an entirely different set of racial prejudices (“I’m not Arab, I like people”), but a fascinating context to share.

00128

00128

Wailing Wall

We went to the Western Wall at night, both to see it again without our tour and to try and get into the Dome of the Rock. The site was full of worshipers, so we didn’t enter the wall proper, but stayed at a respectful distance and took photographs. So much for sacred space. The gender division of the wall is quite shocking, and I joked with Kali that God doesn’t exist on “her side” of the 80/20 split. She was not amused. We eventually found the gate to the Temple Mount, but found it closed to non-Muslims. The Arab guard was not nearly as friendly as the Israelis had been, and he was intent on his task of separating the believers from the tourists.