Monday…Up to Jerusalem

That was quite a swim! Very relaxing…felt like I was floating on a raft in Margaret’s pool only there was no raft. We had a healthy, side-splitting laughing session when Galen did a few roll-overs and a lot of hollering before getting situated into his floating position! So funny! Vickie was wishing someone had gotten a video for their grandsons.


I sigh with relief when I see our lovely room and it even has a balcony for watching the sun rise over the Dead Sea this morning.


After an early breakfast of…surprise…cheeses, salads and other familiar dishes we are back on the bus at 7:30.  Vickie and I spotted real, true cheese pizza on the way out of the dining room and even though we had just eaten, we stopped and grabbed a piece. Mmmm….a taste of home. I’ve been pocketing butter from the breakfast bar to use on my rolls at dinner but feel pretty guilty so last night I just took my roll up to my room and enjoyed it there. The food seems pretty much the same at each hotel and I wonder if tourists who visit the U.S. feel like the food is pretty much the same everywhere in our country. They probably do and I must say, the huge selections here make our hotel waffles, donuts and pre-cooked eggs look pretty paltry.

I’m thinking the negotiations between the two countries need to broaden their horizons. Maybe the Israelis could teach us about healthy eating and we could teach them a thing or two about bathrooms. Just saying.

But those are all side issues…most of the day isn’t spent in hotels…it is spent looking around with wide eyes and adrenaline flowing, always learning, and experiencing the country in wonderful ways.

Camel Rides~



This morning we drive via the Judean Desert for a visit to a Bedouin camp and camel rides. Everyone is still smiling when we’re finished!


Our beautiful Jewish tour guide shows us around the camp and we see the tents where tourist can spend the night. They will feed you local cuisine for dinner and you can make it to Masada to watch the sunrise.


A Bedouin woman tells us about her life as we sit and enjoy coffee she has made. It’s a hard life for women. Her husband now lives with his second wife, having left her alone to raise her 10 children. I’m not clear on if he supports her at all but it’s very clear that she is in favor of liberation for Muslim women. She tells us that all Bedouins are Muslim. Historically, they live in tents and caves in the desert.


Below, Megan and Heather look over the valley from the top of Masada.




Picture above…looking at model of Masada, remains in background and the Dead Sea beyond. Two pictures up…the colored wall is original from Herod’s time.

We ascend Masada by cable car to see this fortress and sanctuary King Herod built for himself and where, in AD 73, 1000 Jews were forced to choose between slavery or death. All chose death except 2 women and a few children who hid. Later Joshephus was able to hear the stories these women had to tell and record them for us. By all means look it up. I’d love to tell it all here but I would ramble and some of you already know it.

I said yesterday that I was having trouble feeling. At Masada I felt chills. There are simply no words to describe the engineering, organization and labor it took to build this place in King Herod’s day. And not only is the castle incredible, but the history of the Jewish rebels who were here in 73 AD….it’s fascinating. I keep using that word. Sorry.


Dwayne and Brad decide to skip the cable car and hike down Masada…about a 30 minute hike if you keep it at a good clip.  You can see them in the picture if you squint. I would love to do it too but have a history of ankle twisting and don’t want to take any chances so I spend the lunch time shopping and eat a pita bread on the run. The pitas here are like none I’ve ever tasted. So soft, chewy and yummy, I enjoy it plain.

Shopping here…oh my. I finally had to look the sales lady square in the face and say “I can not THINK with you talking to me and I need to THINK.”


Ein Gedi or Engedi ~

“And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” I Sam 24:1

These are the springs which sustained David and his men as he hid from King Saul. One of these caves, or one nearby, might have been the cave Saul slept in when David crept in and cut off a piece of his garment.



I almost missed it. For a few fleeting seconds I thought of skipping out on this stop. It’s hot, I’m tired, and I felt like I was kind of done with rocky places.

I am SO glad I didn’t skip it! Besides the Sea of Galilee, this is my favorite spot so far. We hike up and up and up, feasting our eyes upon waterfall after waterfall coming out of enormous rocks set in gigantic mountains. Caves are here and there and a few green plants grow around the springs of water. It’s way, way better than I captured on the pictures. I didn’t get any of the waterfalls and my amature photography can’t possibly show the enormity of the stones.

This is the first real hiking we’ve done and it feels good.


Today there are lots of school children here and we get to talk to some of them. They have me surrounded (above)…they’re so excited to meet Americans and ask all kinds of questions. Yes, I know Justin Bieber, No, I don’t like his music and Yes, we know about football 🙂  Dwayne tells a couple we are here to see where Jesus walked and they look baffled.

I wonder which psalms David wrote while at Engedi?

This blogging on the fly is good for remembering what all we have seen but frustrating that I don’t have time to make corrections…I looked back today and see some things I have wrong. Hopefully anyone reading understands. Do famous bloggers have paid proof-readers? Just wondering. I have a lot of questions today.

Speking of questions, we get to sit in the front seat of the bus today which a marvelous place to get so many questions answered. I think I would like to be a tour guide in Israel.

Now we are driving along the Dead Sea up to Bethany. There are many sinkholes along this sea from salt accumulation which then caves in. Nibeal says they are worried about sinkholes under the motel we stayed in and are looking for new places to build. Yikes.

We turn west and are taking the same road the Good Samaritan would have taken when he came upon the wounded man. We will ascend around 2500 feet in 17 miles as we make our way up to Jerusalem.

Bethany is under Palestinian control and therefore is not subject to Israel’s traffic control, permits, etc. It is less organized and the area of Lazarus tomb we are visiting is subject to pick-pockets. Nibeal warns us ahead of time to be careful and not to stop and buy anything.



We all get a chance to walk down, down into Lazarus’s tomb.


This Arab section of town looks so old-world to me, I feel like I am in a museum instead of on a modern-day street. Nibeal commends us for doing a good job staying together and says this short walk was good practice for tomorrow in Jerusalem. He puts it this way: Jerusalem is the Holy City but some people in it are not so holy.

I ask Nibeal why the muslim shopkeepers along the streets are not throwing tomatoes at us Americans and he says we are safe with him because he is Arab.

Back on bus, we pass through the checkpoint separating the West Bank from the rest of Israel. Around the bend and suddenly…

There is Jerusalem!


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