Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday, 17 January 2017: Jericho

Today begins with a visit to ancient Jericho, where we have the opportunity to travel by cable car to the Mount of Temptation and enjoy the panoramic view before enjoying lnch in the Old City of Jericho. This afternoon we will motor to the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on earth, where we’ll have the unique opportunity to float in the Sea. Next we will see Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, before returning to Bethlehem for dinner and overnight. (B, L, D)

Well, today was one of those crazy-odd days.  No churches, no holy spots, per se, but a WHOLE lot of history, a WHOLE lot of ROCKS, and a WHOLE lot of salt!  

We first traveled to Qumran, the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Apparently, some kid threw stones into a caves, breaking a jar that was inside, and inside the JAR were the scrolls.  TONS and TONS of Scrolls. Who knew!?  There was a short and very lame movie to watch before we sat down to talk (our guide was MUCH more informative than the ridiculous movie).  Great to be outside on suc a nice and mild day.  

Walked around the site a bit, but there really wasn't much to se other than some bathing places and old cisterns.  Cave #4 was visible, but only in the distance.  I would have loved to see more displays and information about the Scrolls themselves.  Thankfully, we heard that the Scrolls themselves are being digitized and will be available for viewing online soon!

Then, it was off to the Dead Sea!  HA!  What a hoot - here we are, a busload of people, piling into the Dead. Sea to float.  We honestly had a BLAST - and what a kick to be doing this in the middle of January!  Temps outside were great and the water was warm enough once you got it.  It was surreal to be so incredibly buoyant - if you swam out far enough, you could "stand" vertically, legs completely beneath you and have your hands high above your head...and not sink!  Splashing was a HUGE no-no, as the water was PAINFUL if you got it in your eyes (only once, thankfully, but it burned like crazy).  THe mud was ooshy and gooshy and was fun to spread all over our arms and legs.  SA bunch of us ladies actually gathered in a circle, started to sing, and did synchronized swimming moves!  Completely ridiculous and great fun to have in the sunshine and the water.  What an experience!

Lunch was in nearby Jericho, and was a delicious meat dish;  A delightful shop was just under the restaurant, and was filled with glorious, colorful items.  I could have purchased millions of dollars worth of items.  SO pretty!

Our final stop in this lazy day of water and sun brought us to a road once through to be traveled by Jesus himself.  We drove to the highest point of the road, overlooking the Judean desert.  Hills, mounds, caves...and more rock!  There was a monastery built into the side of the mountain, and a huge cross stood at the top.  GREAT pictures.

WHat a great day to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy, city life.  A nice chance to learn some more about the geography, but not have to do it beside so many crowds and venders.  Tomorrow is an even calmer day, which I think we both need....although, we are both looking forward to watching the Armenian Christmas Celebration in Nativity Square in the morning. Should be a colorful and majestic display of their Christmas cheer!

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