Just going to say that I had one of the most unique experiences this day of the trip. I got to experience something not many people got to do. I got to visit Masada on a rainy cold day. Seriously, that place only gets maybe 4 or so wet days a year. We just happened to be there on one of those days.
Jan 18 7:27 AM
The bus is loading up and we are about to head out. It amazes me every morning how Ahmed gets the bus in and out of the hotel. There are about four buses surrounding us. Two in front and two on the side. Somehow he backs the bus out onto the narrow street behind us. The bus drivers here really have to know how to drive. The streets are very narrow and there is traffic everywhere. Ahmed can turn this bus on a dime. He is really good.
Sadness that tomorrow is our last day here. If the Lord wills, I will definitely be back at some point in my life. I would like to come on a missions trip over here.
Let me say a little bit about the roads since we are traveling. The roads are not like the ones in the Ukraine. The roads in the Ukraine were paved but they may as well not have been. Riding on a Ukrainian road was like driving on a washboard. Wait, no. Let me restate that. They are worse than a washboard. These roads here in Israel are very similar to the roads in the States. They are paved and very well maintained. I would say that the traveling speeds are very similar to the speeds we would travel on the ones back home. The road we are on I would guess would be considered like the interstates. It is a very smooth and easy drive. In the cities, the roads are well maintained but very very narrow. I think it was Nazareth that we were driving through that houses and shops were on either side making for a narrow road. At some points, I thought the bus was going to hit some cars but amazingly enough, we missed them or maybe they missed us.
The drivers over here are crazy. We had one car that saw us backing out of the hotel that just squeezed around us as we were backing. There have been several cars that I though would get squished by us because they were insisting on occupying the same space as us. It all worked out though. They like arguing with vehicles bigger than them for some strange reason.
We are back on the bus after getting just about blown off Masada. I know so many folks that have been here and said it was super hot. All I hear about Masada is hot hot hot. Well, today it was cold, windy, and believe it or not, wet. I did not take my jacket with me and was very sorry I did not.
Half way through some of our group decided to go back down and one of the ladies loaned me her sweater. I was thankful. I did add some warmth to my clothing. I was not turning back for anything.
It was pretty amazing to stand in a place that held so much history. It was a little different than I expected. I think it was amazing how Herod managed to build up that far from everything. He was a genius when it came to architecture. He had palaces with frescos and rich decorations. Masada had every luxury that his other palaces had. There was a royal bath, store houses with some of the best food money could buy, there was a swimming pool, there was a terrace to catch the breezes. He built houses in the walls for servants and soldiers. He had a place to raise pigeons which would supply fertilizer for the gardens. They made gardens and cisterns for food and water. It was an amazing place.
Then the rebel Jews fled the Romans and used it. They did some redecorating and changed it for their purposes. You could see where they added things. One of the rooms they change into the synagogue. The archeologist knows that this was from their time period and not Herod’s. Before the Temple was destroyed they did not really use the synagogues like they did afterward. Herod would not have needed one.
From the top, of Masada, we had an amazing view of the land. We could also see the walls of the Roman encampments. Because of the climate and the sparse population, everything was very well preserved. No one was able to recycle the rubble into other buildings.
It was very enjoyable and one of those been there done that trips. We are now traveling north along the dead sea towards Qumran. We ran across the Geti or Ibex goats. I mean literally almost ran over them. We were able to stop and get some pictures.
The view of the dead sea is beautiful I think I can do the beauty justice with my pictures. The waves are white crests and the water is an amazing color of blue. It is a deep blue further from shore. As you move towards the shore it turns to paler and paler shades of turquoise. It terminates in a beautiful white crust which is salt.
The Qumran community is was where they believed the Essenes lived. Hannah mentioned that it was where they started the practice of Emersion. This should be a very interesting and educational trip. This is the supposed place that John the Baptist grew up. It is not very far from where John supposedly baptized Jesus in the Jordan river.
But first lunch.
Well, we did not do lunch first. We went and visited the site. It was very interesting. These folks were living here because they did not believe the Jews in Jerusalem were worshiping correctly. They were a group called the Essenes and they came all the way out here to worship and be more dedicated to God. They were very much into ceremonial washing. They washed before they ate before they read the scriptures and after they used the loo. From what Hannah said it does not sound like they did not change the water in their Mikvas very much so I am not sure how they were getting clean.
The water for their Mikvas and drinking were supplied by the occasional flash floods in the mountains. They built dams and directed the water to the cisterns and the Mikvas. Because of their law, they could not carry the water to the Mikvas. The Mikvas had to be filled by running water not carried in containers. The Essenes built baths next to the Mikvas to wash before stepping in the purifying water of the Mikvas. This way the water in the Mikva did not get as dirty quite as fast as it would have otherwise.
The Mikva had a stair way leading down to the lower level. The people would enter on one side and exit on the other. That way they would not accidentally touch some one who was unclean. If they did happen to touch something or someone that was unclean they would have to get back in the Mikva.
I had another Falafel for lunch. It was not as good as some I’ve had. I love the things. Others in the group seem to have contempt for them. Not sure why. I think it is the whole idea of it being vegetarian. It would be so easy to be vegetarian here. I have really enjoyed all the food. I think cabbage is one of the main things they use in their cooking.
Well off for a swim in the Dead Sea.
That was crazy, amazing, awesome, fun!!!! I got to float in the Dead Sea!!! It was an adventure of a life time. We went into the changing room. Yeah, it was one big room and all us ladies had to put on our bathing suits. We all choose a part of the wall and faced it. I cant imagine what it would have been like had there been more people. All us American are so worried about it but the others did not seem too worried.
I floated on the water. I put mud all over me. I loved the feel of the mud. I was having flashbacks to when my sister and I would get out in the yard with the hose and the red clay. I was wishing she was here with me. As kids, we would have just loved the mud and had a lot of fun together. I think dad and mom would have had a hard time getting us out. This was an experience I will never forget.
I am sitting on the bus in Jericho. Once again we had to leave our tour guide outside the city. It is a Palestinian held place within Israel. It is a very dumpy little place really. I was a little disappointed that we did not get to go to the tel. We saw it from the bus. I think the city is on lock down because Vladimir Putin is here. There are police and soldiers carrying guns everywhere. They have banners in Russian and Arabic I guess proclaiming friendship.
We stopped at a place that sells Hebron glass. The stuff is virtually unbreakable. I did part with some money there. I saw some little bowls that I thought might work on my tart burners back home. I bought two. I’ll see if it works. I also saw a coffee mug and could not resist buying it for a friend of mine. Anytime we meet we are drinking coffee. I think she will like it.
Heading back to Jerusalem now. Tomorrow we will tour some then head to the airport for our flight out at 12 pm. I have really enjoyed everything. I don’t want to leave.