Friday, August 24, 2012

Donkeytown, Jerusalem

Making peace after a near trampling
Regular blog readers will remember that early in our trip, my wife was almost trampled by a runaway horse.  Well, we found out more of the story.

About half a block up from our hotel is a small park.  Jane went running through it one day, and saw a number of horses and donkeys being offered for rides.  While a few adults supervised, most of the work was done by youngsters, beginning at about age five.

Jane going for a ride
Anybody for a ride? (Jane photo)
After her run, Jane started a conversation with the folks there, even allowing one of the youth to take her photo as she rode a horse.  Later she took the horses some apples, which they seemed to enjoy immensely.  As is the case in all cultures, the children were feeding the horses quickly, while the adults were scolding them with whatever the Arabic is for, "slow down -- one piece at a time."  Before we left for Jerusalem, Jane also bought some candy and took it for the children.

Meanwhile, another member of our group, Tim B., also had an encounter with children and their animals.  In fact, he is the one that coined the term "Donkeytown" for that area of the park.  While he was sitting on a rock, observing the horses and the children, the youngest of them started riding the smallest donkey.  Unfortunately, the animal was still a bit much to control.  The child had a small green hose to urge the donkey on, but was unable to reach its haunches, so it hit the donkey around the face crying, "Yallah", the Arabic word for "let's go."

Still learning to steer (Jane photo)
As the donkey moved forward, it started toward the rock where Tim was sitting.  Wherever the child hoped the donkey would go, it ended up going right into Tim.  After a small bump, the donkey took a step back.  However, the child pushed the donkey forward with another "Yallah," and the donkey took another step into Tim.  Nothing quite like having a donkey run into you, take a step back, and run into you again to make you feel welcome in a foreign country. 

Tim also noted that the animals, who didn't seem to be in the best of shape, got water to drink from the park's drinking fountains after the children took their drinks. 

Tim recuperating in the Dead Sea after donkey collisions (Greene photo)
A better preacher than I could probably connect all of these to the story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22, but we'll end here.

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