If I had the time -- if we'd had the time -- we could have easily spent three to four days in this area. Easily. And still not done everything I'd like to do. For one, we missed going up Arbel ... but that was due to a race in the area (and on our 2nd day, so let's not go there yet).
I was excited that morning. Truly. We were going to the Bet Yigal Alon Museum at Ginosar to see the remains of a 1st Century wooden boat which had been found in a most remarkable place back in 1986. According to tradition, the Primacy of Peter (also known as Mensa Christi, or Table of Christ) is where the resurrected Jesus cooked breakfast for the disciples who had returned to fishing (at Peter's encouragement). After being reinstated by Jesus, Peter (who is now known by a variety of titles, such as the First Pope and Prince of the Apostles) went on to preach the first sermon. In other words, he left the boat behind. The Primacy of Peter Church rests on the spot where tradition says that happened. But what happened to the boat?
Perhaps it is the boat discovered in 1986 by Moshe and Yuval Lufan, two brothers who were -- of all things -- fishermen! (Can you say "Peter and James," boys and girls?) The true miracle of the find was not just the discovery but the double rainbow that appeared in the sky over the Sea of Galilee.
Excavation of the boat was no easy feat. Conservationists, archeologists, volunteers, and the Powers That Be worked side by side. They wrapped it in a polyurethane coat to avoid disintegration. It took twelve days and nights -- and then it was soaked in a chemical bath for seven years before it was placed on exhibition at the Bet Yigal Alon center at Ginnosar. Amazingly, the boat has tested to date back between 100 BC and 100 AD. Could this be the boat Peter left behind?
I was thrilled that we were going to the centerfor two reasons. 1) I wanted my teammates to see the boat. 2) I wanted my teammates to meet my dear DEAR friends who manage the gift shop.
We were met by a young woman named Marina (who I'd met previously). She talked to our team about the center, then escorted them to a a wall of glass which opens upon sensing someone standing before it. The team was ahead of me. The door opened. I hear the ooh's and aah's. Just as I was about to follow, I turned toward the store and saw Tova, my friend. "Tova!" I said.
"EVA!" she said. Her arms spread wide in greeting. We hugged. She called out, "Naamah, it's Eva!" Naamah and her husband Ohad walked over. Lots of hugs were shared. I told them I'd be back shortly, then joined my team.
I couldn't wait to introduce everyone to my friends (minus Tova's husband, Alex, who had gone out on an errand). I left Tova and went behind the sliding glass doors to the place where the boat is housed. I took some photos. Talked to my friends in hushed tones. Then told everyone that my friends from the gift shop were looking forward to meeting them.
The next hour (at least!) was spent shopping. Robi outdid everyone! I was surprised to see the book Miriam and I had written on a shelf. "You have the book!" I declared to Tova.
"Of course!" she said (a common Israeli saying ... in Hebrew "Betach!") Tova took the books off the shelves and had Miriam and me sign the copies. It was the first time she and I had ever done that together! What a thrill!! A lot of pictures were taken amongst much laughter. But then it was time to go ... With sadness and kisses, we said "shalom" and "goodbye."
But not forever. They know I'll be back as soon as I can. And, until then, I hold the good people at Bet Yigal Alon in my heart. Now and always.