Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Small Country, BIG Problems!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 09 30th, 2010

Aww, Jerusalem. Rich in history, culture, religion, and one of core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has a lot of people REALLY pissed off.

As you all know, Jerusalem is a holy center for three major religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. It is quite interesting to see all these cultures mixed together while this very tense conflict continues.

Anyway, all the key religious sites of Jerusalem are walled off in what they call the “Old City.” The Old City is divided up into four quarters: the Muslim quarter, the Jewish quarter, the Christian quarter, and the Armenian quarter (Why does Armenia get their own quarter of Jerusalem? I have no idea, and I am too lazy to look it up, so enlighten me in the comments section if you must.).

The most spiritual site to the Jews and the third most important site to the Muslims is the Temple Mount. For Jews, the “Holy of the Holies” lies there, which is where the Temple of Jerusalem stood, which housed the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the 10 Commandments given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai (Phew!). For Muslims, it is the site of Muhammad’s Night of Ascension, where the Muslims believe that Muhammad was transported from Mecca to Temple Mount, where he then ascended into heaven to meet previous prophets of Islam.

Jews will not step foot on Temple Mount, as they do not want to accidently tread on the area where the “Holy of the Holies” stood. Also, according to Israeli government law, no non-Muslim can pray at the Temple Mount site. Any non-Muslim seen praying at the Temple Mount will be thrown out of the site by police (no joke).

Since the Jews do not go onto the Temple Mount, they pilgrimage to their second holiest site, the Western Wall (You do NOT want to refer to this as the Wailing Wall, as many Jews deem this term offensive). This is located at the foot of Temple Mount, and it is a remnant of a wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple. Jews come to this site and place written prayers inside the walls. The notes are collected twice a year and buried at Mt. Olive. More than a million written prayers are collected each year.

Considered the holiest place on earth among Christians is the Holy Sepulchre, which has been the site for Christian pilgrimage for the past 2000 years. Not only is it the place where most Christian churches believe Jesus was buried and rose again, and they also believe it is where he has crucified and his body was prepared for burial.

Not gonna lie, Aaron and I had NO IDEA what the Holy Sepulchre was when we went there. We just kind of stumbled upon it when we were wandering around the Old City and noticed a big church with a lot of people milling about. We walked in and was everyone placing their hands on what looked like a coffin, so we decided had to do it as well. Good thing we found it, I couldn’t imagine coming to Jerusalem without seeing the most important site in Christianity.

As far as the atmosphere goes outside the religious sites, it is pretty much your modern city. The one thing I that really made the city stand out in my mind from others are the Hasidic Jews. I was surprised to see so many of them, as you can easily spot them in their black suits, black or fur caps and their long sidelocks. Not that there is anything wrong with that (a la Seinfeld), just one of those things that will always stick in my mind when I think about Jerusalem.

Oh, another thing that is unique to Israel is the security. You have to go through security checkpoints to get into the bus station, the malls, part of the Old City, etc., etc., etc. There are a lot Israeli military walking around with uzis, and that is a little shocking at first, but then you get used to it. Can you imagine people with uzis walking casually around the U,S.? I don’t think so!

All in all, a good experience, except we stayed in the second worst hostel we have ever been too (Fez, Morocco being the first). Good thing we are staying with Aaron’s Aunt Karen in Hiltons and Sheratons while we travel around Egypt! (Holla, Karen!)

Peace out, ya’ll!



I am the Best Wife Ever… No, Really…

Posted by Christy in Posts on 09 28th, 2010

So after over two weeks in Nuweiba, we finally left our new home away from home to explore Israel. Our first stop was Ein Gedi by the Dead Sea.

When we left Petra Camp, we made no plans as to where we would spend the night when we got to the Dead Sea. Why? Well, our new friend Katja, who was another guest at Petra Camp, told us that she and a friend just camped on the beach in Ein Gedi for FREE. Well, when Aaron and I hear that you can camp on a beach for FREE and that it is safe, we are of course going to do it!

Anyway, long story short, we arrived just before the sunset, set up our mosquito net as our tent and our sleeping sheets as our sleeping bags, meaning we basically slept on the dirt. So, I pride myself on being able to fall asleep anywhere, so if you’re asking yourself whether or not I fell asleep, the answer is yes. However, was I pretty much a raging bitch the next day? OH, YEAH! (Aaron can vouch).

After our very luxurious night of rest, we woke up at sunrise and went for a dip in the Dead Sea. Now, as you probably know, there is a lot of salt in the Dead Sea. It has almost nine times more salt than ocean water. The higher salinity in the water attributes to many resulting factors when swimming:

1.) You can’t put your head underwater. I will give you one guess as to why. I will tell you that we saw a young fella make this mistake, and he ran screaming out of the water to the nearest fresh water shower. It was hilarious.

2.) There is no life in the Dead Sea. That means I could swim without fear of sharks for once. (I have no idea when this fear arose. It did not, however, help when our friend Bart went into great detail about how his good friend was eaten by a shark off the coast of Australia. Thanks, Bart!)

3.) The level of salt is so dense, it makes you extremely buoyant. The best way to describe it is imagine swimming in JELLO that has not yet quite formed to a solid. It is one of the weirdest sensations I have ever felt in my life.

So, the Dead Sea was definitely worth the side trip. If you are ever in Israel, I definitely recommend it.



Wait…It has been 17 Days?!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 09 26th, 2010

Welcome to Petra Camp, our new home away from home!

We were originally supposed to stay for only 5 days… which turned into 7 days… which turned into 10 days… which turned into “What the hell? Let’s just stay here until we have to go to Israel!”

By the time we checked out, we had been at the camp 17 days, and had made some great friends.

Another great thing about the camp is that it was very cost-friendly. We stayed in a hut (without AC) for about $8 a night, and then we had the same breakfast every morning for about $4 and dinner for about $12. We averaged out to about $30 a day (we purchased water and snacks throughout the day as well), which fit in very nicely with our budget!

Our days spent at Petra Camp were all very similar. Here was our agenda:

10 AM – Wake up, take a shower

11 AM – Eat breakfast

11:30 AM – 3 PM – Sleep or read in the hammocks by the ocean

3 PM – Snorkel or swim in the ocean

4:30 PM – Take a nap or relax after swim

7 PM – Eat dinner

8 PM – Play cards, watch movies, or play pool with our new friends

12 AM – Go to sleep

There was sometimes a hike up the mountain, a boat ride with our new friend Bart, or a bike ride around town mixed in there as well.

As some of you may know, I have some anxiety issues and idle time usually doesn’t suit me well. I have to be doing something at all times, or at least have access to the Internet, to keep my mind pre-occupied, or I go crazy with my general worries. But at Petra Camp, I could do nothing except just sit, and I was completely calm. I don’t know if it was just the place, or if I have changed during my trip, but I can tell you I have never been so relaxed in my life.

I would like to end my post with a video of one of our new friends, Achmed, teaching me a Bedouin dance. As you can see, it didn’t go well.



Ummm… THAT Was Awkward…

Posted by Christy in Posts on 09 22nd, 2010

Sorry we haven’t posted anything for a couple weeks! We are in Nuweiba, Egypt with very little access to Internet… when we get a better connection I will post pictures, but I wanted to share a story with you…

We have been staying at a campground where we have made friends with the whole staff and the few other people staying there. We had a new couple arrived a few days ago, and we wanted to introduce ourselves. She was Egyptian, he was from Germany.

‘Hi, I’m Christy, nice to meet you,’ extending my hand in greeting. The girl shakes my hand. I offer my hand to her husband. His reply:

‘I don’t shake hands with women.’

Whoa.

OK, OK, before you go all crazy and say what a sexist pig he is, hear me out. He is a recent convert to Islam, and as a rule men and women do not make any physical contact with each other, unless, of course, you are married. It is not to show that men are superior to women, but rather to show RESPECT to women.

Well, I am going to be honest here and say I was a little offended when he didn’t shake my hand, even if it was out of respect. But I am going to have to get used to these things as we travel from country to country and proper greetings will vary.

So, what are your thoughts? Please, all comments are welcome. I am curious to hear what you all think of this.

I look forward to your replies. :-)



Chillin at the Red Sea

Posted by Christy in Posts on 09 10th, 2010

After three months of go go go, we have finally taken a break at the Red Sea in Dahab, Egypt, and it feels so good. Nothing much on the agenda except for sleeping, swimming, and snorkeling, and we couldn’t be happier.

We stayed at an awesome resort, where they had happened to build in dorm rooms for hostel prices. We stayed here for, ahem, $15 a night! And that even included free breakfast! Seriously, folks, you might want to reconsider that trip to Florida and opt for the Red Sea. What you pay for in air fare you will make up in accommodation and food prices. Plus, the Red Sea is known for some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world.

Speaking of snorkeling, here are some of the sea creatures we saw in the reef right off the coast of our resort:


Parrot Fish


Pennant Fish


Clown Fish


Great Barracuda

Oh, yeah, I saw a barracuda. It scared the blazes out of me. They have been known to attack snorkelers and divers, though it is uncommon.

Aaron didn’t see it (which I don’t know how he missed it, it was right below us), so he spent the next couple days at the reef searching for it. I, howe

An added bonus of Dahab are all the dogs running around, and they are extremely friendly to the tourists. A dive shop we rented our snorkeling gear from had puppies in their shop, and they were nice to let me play with them for an hour. Or two. I don’t know how long, but Aaron had to drag me away.

Which brings me to my next point, I MISS HOMER! Don’t worry, boo-boo bear, no doggie I ever run into on this trip will replace you!



To Our Friend, Elaine

Posted by Christy in Posts on 09 2nd, 2010

We have some very sad news to report. We just got word this morning that our friend Elaine, who we stayed with just outside of Salisbury in her beautiful country home, has passed.

Elaine was my friend Fiona’s mother. Elaine invited us to stay at her home without ever having met us before. I can say without a doubt that she was one of the kindest, most generous people I had ever met.

Our prayers are with Fiona and Ecila, her two daughters, and the rest of her family.