Although our guide has forewarned us, we are dismayed and irritated by our treatment, for we must stay on the ship until permission is granted to land. Negotiations between the captain and local authorities proceed and eventually each of our names is recorded and we get identification papers. These, we are told, we must on no account lose, if we ever want to return home again. Days have passed, and everyone is anxious to cross the few hundred yards of open water to our long-sought destination: the Holy Land. It must be admitted that some among us, a couple of nobles in particular, are being less than polite. They took especial offense when they were advised not to dress in their finery, for the local merchants would automatically charge them higher rates.
Just as everything seems to be in place, a storm came up. Jaffa has no port, so the captain decided to stand out to sea. Another week passed before we are finally able to land.
We get little time for gawking, but nearby rocks are pointed out to us. There, we are told, are the rocks where Jonah was cast ashore.
Now that we are in the Middle East, our definition of "old city" changes dramatically. Jaffa, for example, is thousands, rather than hundreds, of years old. It was conquered by Alexander the Great and was attacked again by Judas Maccabee. Pompey captured it in 63 BC. It has New Testament associations as well. Here St. Peter raised Tabitha from the dead, and her tomb was visited by the pilgrims. Here also was the house of Simon the Tanner. During the Crusades, Jaffa was part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and was held by the Ibelin family.
But, alas, we get little time for admiring the sites, for pilgrims are not allowed to wander at will. We are now under the authority of the Muslim governor. Pilgrim traffic--Muslim, Christian, and Jewish--is so great that the public authorities have an entire bureaucracy devoted to controlling it, rather as Venice has. One of the first things we learn is that we will be lodged in places specially designated for us.
That's how we wound up in this smelly cave.
The picture below is a wonderful illustration that conveys the bustle and business of disembarking at Jaffa. There were no docks, as Jaffa's so-called port was simply a stretch of beach. So people had to load into rowboats and make their way to shore that way.