First thing, we headed to Mount Tabor to celebrate mass. We had to park the bus and then take taxis to the top, which required a wait. While waiting, I noticed a trail and asked the guide if I could walk instead; alas, he said no as it was an all-day hike, but I could see it was about as far as Mount Helena, probably a 45-minute walk. Even so, I walked up the trail about a quarter mile while we waited in line for taxis. I discovered the trail to be most rocky, some parts solid rock. There isn't much top soil at all.
I also picked a red poppy and pressed it into the Magnificat. Shafiq had suggested we press it in a Bible as well as some dirt on pages that associate with the various places we visited. Unfortunately, I only had a digital version of the Bible on my Kindle Fire, so that wasn't happening. As it turned out, we had to wait a half hour for the taxi and then another hour on top for a mass time, so I would have had time to climb--oh well. Instead, we wandered around the Fourth- and Eleventh-Century ruins of the old churches and living quarters. The Inquisition had built a church after the fourth-century building had been destroyed. Mount Tabor is the traditional spot of the Transfiguration, and Father Bob read the appropriate scripture at mass.
We then headed to the town of Nazareth, the home of Mary. We saw where she lived, and visited her well (actually, it is a well that is three blocks away from her home, so it is assumed that is where she went three times a day for water, but the location isn't certain).
We had lunch at a convent. They said it would be a simple lunch of pasta and soup, in keeping with a lenten Friday; however, after the pasta, they brought out plates of salad, delicious fried fish, green beans and fresh bread with hummus. We were stuffed from the pasta, thinking no more food was coming, but we really overate to be polite. On a side note, the nuns had many turtles in their garden and they were out feeding them lettuce. One turtle was attacking the others and running them into stone corners. He lifted the offending turtle and places in another spot in the garden beds.
As a special treat, Shafiq had arranged for us to see a newly discovered first-century house that would have been very similar to the one where Mary lived. They had discovered a cellar with earthen jars.m Also, the house had been added onto during the fourth century.
Along the streets of Nazareth, we came across Muslims handing out Korans in English, trying to convert us. Luckily, our guide had warned us to not accept what they were handing out and keep walking. The Muslims had built a mosque right across from the Church of St. Joseph, which our guide said they blared the call to prayer; for a long time they had tried to raze the Catholic church to replace it with a mosque. He said Rome had to step in to talk to the Israeli government to stop it.
We ended the day at Nain, where Jesus raised the widow's son from the dead. After dinner, I went down to the Sea of Galilee and put my feet in just to do it.