Something is funny about WordPress. If I add too many photos it crashes on me. So, here’s the Dead Sea II, as in Part II.
When I last left you we were at the Baptismal Site of Jesus. Well, here I am at the site.
John wanted to put his feet in the water. While I’m perfectly content to keep my feet dry, I have no problem photographing those who want to get wet.
Across the river is the Country of Jordan. Many visitors come to that side too. I found it interesting how two years ago, Google Maps would take you to either side. Now, it acts as though the Israli side doesn’t exist. Hmmm… I smell politics at Google.
We chatted with two IDF soldiers. They were friendly and nice. U.S. relations with Israel are at a peak right now.
Masada is our next destination. It is an amazing place to visit. It gives insight to Herod. Herod is the man who ordered all baby boys killed in an attempt to kill the Promised Messiah. Well, we know how that turned out, and we also know how things turned out at Masada.
I rode the tram to the top with Linda and Becca. In the pictures you can see a square below. That’s one of the Roman encampments.
In the above picture, there is a hairpin turn. Those two dark specs on the trail are John and Matt.
Now they are quite a bit closer.
How Low Can You Go
I love this spot. The lowest place on earth. It’s something to say you’ve been there, and you’d go back if you need to.
We watched the sun go down and it was a beautiful sunset.
When we got back to Jerusalem we found a shawarma shop. I decided to try falafel again. This time it wasn’t as bad as the first time. Becca convinced me when she said how much she loves the stuff.
Verdict – it was better this time, but not something I’m wild about.
The Dead Sea is our destination today. A good healthy breakfast is what’s required for a visit to Masada. (My heel is killing me. I’m hoping I’m not a slow-down for the group.)
The breakfast here is different for Americans. They eat salad for breakfast, however, salad to them is chopped cucumbers and tomatoes. They also have chocolate/hazelnut spread on bread, boiled eggs and apples or oranges.
Yes, that is a foosball table in the background.
The hostel in Jerusalem is pretty low budget. You rinse your dishes and put them in the dishwasher racks. Matt volunteered to do the dishes today. (Matt’s a great guy.)
The view from the hostel isn’t the most picturesque, but it tells a story. Below we load in to Jumpy for a trip down to the lowest place on earth – – the Dead Sea.
As you drive from Jerusalem you drop down to a valley. It is dry, desert land. Part way down the mountain is a sea level marker. It’s a good place to stop for a picture or two.
Each time I visit here I see Sushi the Camel and his owner. This is the guy’s full time business, and this is his location.
When we reached the bottom of the valley, guess what?
We saw an entire herd of camels!
I remember incorrectly. I thought the baptismal site was quite a ways from the main highway from Jerusalem going east. We drove to it first.
There are many improvements since I was here two years ago. The road is paved all the way. Before it was dirt. While there are signs warning about mines, there are fewer.
The water’s edge has been set up to accommodate tourist as well as people wanting to be baptized. I found it interesting so many people were baptizing themselves. They put on a white shift, entered the water, and dipped down.
It feels weird having Sunday as a play day and having gone to church on Saturday. But, that’s the way they do it here in Israel. We went to church yesterday at the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center, and today we’re out touring and shopping.
We joined up with the Brandson’s and went to Masada. It’s a fortress King Herod built atop a plateau South East of Jerusalem. Then, the Romans came and attacked by building a HUGE earth ramp to the top. (as seen below)
Here is what it may have looked like at the Meridian of Time…
After a long day, I stopped at neighborhood bakery for some baklava . The Jews do baklava right; the Greeks have nothing on them.
On the way to Masada I sat in the back seat with Fred Brandson. It turns out he works for AT&T. What a small world. Imagine coming halfway across the world and running into a guy from Antioch Stake who works for AT&T. I started asking questions like, “Do you know the Koberstiens?”, “The Mahaffees?” “The Westovers?” and so forth. It turns out we have lost of mutual friends.
After a while of Fred Branson and I talking Adam turned around and said, “Will you two knock it off!”
We all laughed about being 1/2 way around the world and running into someone with so much in common.
After returning to Jerusalem we changed clothes and headed back to the BYU Jerusalem Center for a concert. It was a wonderful concert consisting of a couple of violinist, an opera singer, a pianist and cellist. They were from New Jersey and we got to talk to the performers after the performance.
It was there I thanked an Elder Jones for getting us tickets. I told him if he was ever in Palmyra he should look us up. He said he’s been to Palmyra twice, and then told him his brother and sister-in-law served a mission here. I asked their names and he said, “Carl and Ramona Jones.”
WELL, SON OF A GUN! Carl and Ramona lived with us when they were here. This is getting too weird running in to people with connections like this.
I also met a lady named Carol here. She’s a psychologist from Lebanon, but is now a U.S. citizen living in the L.A. area. As we returned to the hostel she was in the dining room looking at photos on her laptop. I asked if she took them, and she had. We had a wonderful discussion about photography.
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and awounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
Matt pointed out that this valley has been filled in to bury a gas line. 2,000 years ago it would have been much deeper, and the trail very narrow along the side of the mountain. To “pass by on the other side” would have meant backtracking and then crossing to the other side of the valley. In other words, the priest and Levite would have gone out of their way to avoid the man.
Seeing this adds more depth to the scriptures and their meanings. This is hostile country: hot, dry, rocky and steep.
33 But a certain aSamaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had bcompassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took acare of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the ahost, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (from Luke Chapter 10)
While we were out there, this surveillance plain flew over 3 times checking us out. Yes, we were in hostile territory between Jerusalem and Jordan. We smiled and waved to show them we were just stupid tourist wandering around in the desert.
We stopped at the Sea Level marker along the highway. Remember, the Dead Sea is about 1,400 below sea level. This guy accepted some cash from Matt because Matt wanted to ride his camel. His son, Ahkmed, took some pictures with my camera. I attempted to show him how, but he said, “I know, I know.” (By the way, the dad was wearing the same style shoes I wore. I guess I wear camel-jockey shoes.)
While there I bought a 1/2 Kilo of dates. They were the freshest dates I’ve ever had. $6 for a 1/2 Kilo. Won’t find that price in the states.
The guy who sold me the dates said, “Like me on Facebook”. (When I find his business card, I will.)
From there we drove along the Dead Sea to Masada. Now, until today I had never heard of Masada. Masada was a city built on a very tall plateaued mountain (1300 feet) by Harod the Great. Yes, the same one who ordered the death of all children under the age of two. This fortress was to be a safe haven from his enemies.
To get to the top, we took a tram. Once on the top, one must be prepared for some hiking and stairs.
Discovered in 1842, it was excavated by Yigael Yadin’s expedition in 1963. (Yadin is one of my heroes. What an amazing man.)
They stored grain, fruits, water, ammunition and weapons atop this mountain. Unfortunately, the Romans built an earthen ramp to the top and defeated them.
So, how do you sit there watching your enemies build a ramp to your fortress? My wife suggests the Romans simply had them outnumbered.
When we got off the tram back at the visitor’s center, Matt suggested we eat at their cafeteria. I had lamb kebobs on cinnamon sticks. Quite tasty. The food in Israel is somewhat bland. I expected more spices. But the produce is so very fresh.
When we returned to Jerusalem, it was time for a snack. So, down Jaffa Street we went looking for some tasty treats.
I got a kick out of this 7-11-like store. Notice they are only open 7 days a week?
Yes, they honor the Sabbath day. Or, Sabbott (SHAH-bot) as they call it in Jerusalem.