Midnight in Tiberias. Computer problems. Couldn’t sleep. Thirsty.
So I pulled on my jeans and jumper over my pyjamas and went out to buy water.
Thankfully I found some in a shop just across the road from The Scots Hotel where we’re staying.
“Where you from?” asked a stocky, genial-looking gent sitting at a table. And when I told him I was Australian he invited me to sit for a while. We chatted on about families and children, the sites to see around Galilee, and the fact that he was a money-changer (in doing this he pulled a fat wad of notes from his pocket).
The Scots Hotel is an elegant, luxurious establishment today, but it began life in the 1800s as a hospital run by an English doctor, but when both he and his son (who succeeded him) had died it became a maternity hospital in the 1950s. My companion, David, proudly pointed to the hotel and told me he was born there on 13th June 1952.
However my big surprise came when I discovered that the only resident I know in the whole of Israel is in fact a friend of his! I know he wasn’t just plying me with Arabic charm – though to some extent he was! – because he was able to tell me exactly where Gabriel lives.
That’s how I found myself at midnight on a Saturday night, sitting in my PJs on a plastic chair on a footpath in Tiberias, the waters of the Sea of Galilee quietly lapping against the shore nearby, talking with a total stranger who knew a man with whom I exchange Christmas cards.