Dinner in the Christian Quarter
Following my trip through the Western Wall, my failed attempt to gain access to the Al Aqsa mosque, a brief wandering through a cemetary from Lion’s Gate to the Golden Gate, bartering with Persian carpet dealers, and visiting the 14 Stations of the Cross and summiting Christ the Redeemer Church, (that wasn’t a run on sentence, was it 😉 ?) it was time to eat. Jerusalem had one more curveball in store for me.
Return to the Souk
The only time I get lonely overseas is when it’s time to eat. I’ve spent enough time eating alone in my life and I really don’t enjoy it. Eating by yourself overseas makes you realize that despite all the amazing things that you are seeing, you’re missing out on sharing those experiences with anyone else. With that in mind, I decided to take my meal at the busiest place I could find – the market souk near Christ the Redeemer church.
I pause in my tale to describe my attire for the evening. Remember, I have been up running through the dusty streets of Old Jersualem from exactly sun-up to dinner which was probably 12 hours. I have climbed through churches, monastaries, into and out of caves, pressed flesh with religious elders, and struggled through masses of humanity in a desert setting. In other words, I smell My cargo khakis, olive shirt, and brown boots are covered in dust, sweat, and grime. I had been wearing a hat both to protect my shaved head from the Middle Eastern sun as well as to obey the religious sensibilities of each place I visited; some required head cover, others prohibit.
I chose a restaurant for the view. 3 stories up from the market place I was able to find a seat. However, no one would serve me. After about 30 minutes of watching everyone eat, I turned to leave. Enough of this I thought.
Leaving down the stairs I passed the manage who asked how my meal was. When I expalined that there was no meal because no one would serve me, he disappeared into the kitchen and with a flurry of words in a language I could not identify (Armenian?) he discovered that they wouldn’t serve me because they thought I was an American service man.
Not caring to eat at any place that wouldn’t serve our military I decided to leave. I told the manager that I understood their objections and would leave. Again the man stopped me. He further explained that it wasn’t that they wouldn’t serve me, it was that they were too scared to serve me. He asked ‘You are a SEAL, no?’
That really took me back. I didn’t expect that. Compared to the waiters I was huge. Most Americans really do appear giant and fat compared to the people I’ve encountered overseas. At 195lbs, I am no exception. But a SEAL? No. I lauged it off and explained that American SEALs were much, much bigger, stronger and scarier than I could ever be. That thought both seemed to relieve and terrify them. I was seated and enjoyed a good meal and a tasty beer looking out over the city.