Let's get the parrot out of the way first.
We spent most of today -- Saturday the 9th -- in Jericho. Jericho is arguably the oldest city in the world; humans have been living there in some sort of urban setting, town or city or whatever, for something over ten thousand years. We spent much of the day there. We took the cable car to the top of the Mountain of Temptation, we walked through the ruins of an Ummayad palace, we saw what's left (very little) of the walls of Jericho mentioned in the Old Testament, we saw the tree that (allegedly) Zaccheus the publican climbed to see Jesus. The children liked this well enough.
But then there was the parrot.
It was a grey parrot that was sitting on a railing outside the control cabin of the cable car. When we went up (and a very interesting ride it was -- the scariest and most interesting cable car ride I've been on in years), the parrot was nonchalantly eating a sunflower seed. The boys liked it very much. But then, after we went to the top and walked where Jesus (presumably) walked, and was tempted three times by Satan -- you know, turn these stones into bread, leap from the pinnacle of the Temple, bow down and worship me! -- and explored the Greek monastery a bit, and stood on a cliff top with the Dead Sea in the distance and watched falcons flying a hundred feet below us, still hundreds of feet above the ground, and had coffee and ice cream, and chatted with a Filipino guy from Hawaii who had come down from Tel Aviv for the day and was horrified to find that Jericho was in Palestinian territory -- after all that, we got to the bottom again, and then David discovered that he had lost his hat! The new cap we had bought just yesterday, in Jerusalem, with Power Rangers Mystic Force on it! So we went back and talked to the very nice lady behind the counter, and she called up to the top, and sure enough they had found it! But we had to wait for ten minutes for it to come down the mountain in the cable car. So we went upstairs to wait, to the boarding platform where the cable cars loaded up...
...and the parrot was still there...
...and it was drinking a can of Fanta. Like, by itself. The can was almost as big as the parrot, but it was handling it without much difficulty. It tipped up the can and drank delicately, for long minutes, while the boys -- okay, the boys and I -- watched in utter, slack-jawed fascination.
Eventually David's cap arrived, and the parrot finished its drink and dropped the can on the ground, and we left. But sitting in the bus going home, when we asked the boys what they remembered from the day's adventures -- the ruined palace? The cable car ride? The mountaintop? -- the unhesitating answer was, "We had ice cream twice. And that parrot was awesome."
So. Here follow some scattershot impressions of the last two days.