Back in Bethlehem

We met up with the group after that, at 11:00. Back to Dung Gate and the Bus, then we drove to Bethlehem. Going through the checkpoint was easy on a bus–they just waved us through. No one in the bus had any idea of all the drama we went through on Christmas Eve to get there and to get out again.

The bus stopped once by the Wall so people could take pictures.   A few minutes from a bus window was way different than walking beside the wall all the way into the city. We all got out and snapped a few pics, then went on to a wood carver our guide took us too.  (We 4 returned for more photos during the next stop, finding some work by Banksy)

So, here we are at a huge olive wood store in Bethlehem with a very large carving factory downstairs. It felt like all the carvers worked all through Covid for 2 years without selling a thing.  The inventory was endless.

Many of these wood carvers cater to LDS tour groups.

The problem here was the Nativities and carvings were Horribly Overpriced. They had one set like one we saw last week–but not nearly as nice–the pieces didn’t match. The high pressure sales people (who were like vultures) told us it was $15,000 USD. Oh my. The one we saw was $1,700.  Their shipping prices were also 4 or 5 times as much.  We rolled our eyes. I think they were probably sorely disappointed that hardly anyone bought anything more than a few Christmas ornaments or small trinkets. Our tour guide (who gets a 30% cut) had us  spend an hour there.

The interesting part of this stop for me was the workshop downstairs.  It smelled heavenly, like my Dad’s workshop, full of sawdust and woodchips.  Here’s a look at how the wood comes in from olive grove farmers, to the end result:

    These artists are really skilled.  It’s too bad the market has taken a big hit during covid and with the wall keeping so many tourists out of Bethlehem.

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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