I was a little nervous about going to Israel. Our group of about forty 18 year olds arrived in Jerusalem before the hotel was ready so we went to Hezekiah’s Tunnel to stay busy until our rooms were ready. It was a beautiful day!
We climbed down hundreds of stairs into the underground waterway of Hezekiah’s tunnel. At the bottom of the steep stairs, you step into the cold water and walk through the tunnel for about 45 minutes in ankle to knee deep water in nearly total darkness. Yossi, our Israeli tour guide, offered to take those who were claustrophobic through a dry, lit 5 minute passageway to where the tunnel comes out. Several in our group opted to turn to the left before the bottom of the stairs and go with him. I just kept following Scott. He noticed I was behind him and asked me if I was ok. I said, “Yes.” Then he asked me again and I said, “Yes.” After he asked me the fourth or fifth time, I decided I must not be and turned around to follow Yossi. The guard said that I could catch up to them, if I just went that way.
I went that way and came out of the dry tunnel into the beautiful, bright Jerusalem sun and stood at the exit alone. I couldn’t hear or see anyone except a guard in a nearby guard tower. I asked him where to go and he pointed to the right. So I started walking to the right but there was no path or road to follow. I was in an alleyway but could see some stairs to my right. I began to climbthe stairs because chicken wire fences kept me from going straight ahead.
I looked up at the top of the stairs and there was a man standing there. He was fair complected, short and round. He had a wide-brimmed hat, glasses, a camera around his neck, and was studying an unfolded map. As I got closer to him, he asked me if I needed help. He said he was Gary from Australia. I told him I was Amy from the U.S. and that I was looking for Siloam’s Pool at the end of Hezekiah’s tunnel. He said that it was on the map and he would help me find it. We walked for about 30 minutes. We wound our way through back alleys and side streets with children playing and then through a gate with a large padlock that was unlocked. I saw stairs descending from the path and could hear voices. As I got closer, I could see our group at the bottom of the stairs around the pool. I stopped and turned around to thank Gary for helping me. There was not a person around. I walked a little ways back looking for him. No one was there.
I don’t know where he could have gone. It was as if he just vanished. I wanted to thank him. I could have never found it by myself.
I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before. I was so very lost.
Thank you, Gary from Australia. Or as my son says, “Ga(b)ri…el.” 👼