Yesterday (10/15) we visited the city of Hebron. It was a lot to take in, and I'm going to defer to the group blog for a description of the day and what we learned. Read here.
I have yet to mention my new friend Debbie. Debbie is a PC(USA) pastor who is spending her 3+ month sabbatical in Bethlehem. Will introduced her to our group our first night in Bethlehem.
Debbie joined us yesterday on our trip to Hebron. About midway through the day she looked at me and, in true mother fashion (she has two daughters close to my age), said: "We need to get you something for your face."
She was right. In the past couple of days I had gone from having a minor sunburn to some sort of red, itchy, uncomfortable rash on my face. I couldn't put sunscreen on it because that made it worse--so I spent the entire day in Hebron constantly hunting for shade, or, when there was none, shielding my face from the sun with my head scarf, leaving only my eyes uncovered. Not only did I not want to get more burned, but the sun/heat made the rash on my face worse.
After returning from Hebron Debbie kindly offered to drive me to the pharmacy to get something to help my face. The pharmacist was SO helpful. She insisted that my face was not sunburned, but that I had experienced an allergic reaction to something. In response to her asking what I thought it might be, I said, "well, I don't know. I've been in the sun a lot…but all we've done is visit places and pick olives…". It was at that point in the sentence that the pharmacist interrupted me. "You are allergic to olive dust," she said. "Don't worry, this is common."
Wel, that's an easy fix, right? I figured I could pick up some Benadryl and be on my way. The pharmacist informed us, however, that such items (antihistamines, cough syrup, etc), while available over-the-counter in the US, require a prescription here (though antibiotics, interestingly, are available over-the-counter). She directed me and Debbie to the nearby clinic, where I could see a doctor.
The doctor confirmed the pharmacist's diagnosis. She gave me a prescription for an antihistamine and hydrocortisone cream, and we returned to the pharmacy to get these items. In conversation with our new friend the pharmacist, Debbie and I remarked, "wow, it was only 20 shekels [the equivalent of $5] to see the doctor! That could have been $300 dollars in the United States." The pharmacist replied, "yes, but for us 20 shekels is like $300 dollars."
Now that the arrogant Americans had been given (not unkindly) a reality check, we ventured to the neighboring shops for some miscellaneous purchases. Mission accomplished, we arrived back to the hotel in time for dinner. I'm thankful for Debbie and for my no-longer-itchy face!
Currently it's near dinnertime on Tuesday (10/16). The doctor said I needed to say out of the sun and away from olives for 24 hours, so though I did meet up with the group for the scheduled afternoon programming, I had some unanticipated downtime this morning while the rest of the group was out olive picking. It was a good opportunity to catch up on some blogging (as you may have noticed)…although I unfortunately did not have enough time to work on studying for Greek ;)
Shalom, salaam, peace be with you!