With preparations fit for a king,
or maybe a US president,
Pope Francis arrived in Jerusalem, Israel.
The man wearing white shorts and I waited around to get a photo,
but this was as close as we came to seeing a Pope.
We talked long enough at New Gate for me to find out
that he was an Iranian studying physics in the US.
I cannot believe I forgot to ask him what his plans are after he graduates.
My plan to walk home through the Old City failed.
Inside and outside Jaffa Gate was shut tight, closed to the public.
Pretty lonely night, it was much quieter than usual all around.
Then Monday morning nice and early,
streets were shut.
This is a one-way street, want to guess which way?
Traffic was going out any which way, as this double bus blocked the road.
Credit to its driver who could maneuver that huge thing there.
But it worked, and this main street was clear of traffic.
And then King George Street,
where the Pope was going to meet the chief rabbis, was closed to traffic.
Though that meeting was not going to be for another hour,
these guys seemed serious,
and no way was I or anyone else going to get by.
I just wanted to go to Jewish Agency Building down the street,
but we had to walk around a different way.
Security had to stand in hot sun all day,
but we all had to walk around past this line of sitting cars.
Finally, I did get to here from there.
After the Pope and Rabbis and the very select guests left,
the Heichal Shlomo lobby was much easier to enter.
Then there was the area around Beit Hanassi, the President’s House.
Again I had to walk all around to get to where I needed to go.
Residents on the street had no parking for days.
I arrived to the spot where in May 2009,
I had been able to see the Pope’s limo leaving,
but this time a special reinforced bus was blocking the road.
Security was so tight that this is as close as I could get.
This man was holding a sign “Baruch haba Chaver,” Welcome my Friend.”
Pope Francis was given a red carpet welcome,
but certainly many sighed with relief when his visit ended
and he flew safely back to the Vatican.
But do not think all will be quiet for long.
Tonight is White Night,
and music will blast all night in Gan Sacher, Sacher Park,
as Yom Yerushalyim, Jerusalem Day
celebrations begin at sunset.