Our tour guide, Eli spoke five languages which is not necessarily unusual. All signs are in Arabic, Hebrew and English so it’s easy to see where you are or what you want. They also accept dollars as well as the Israel shekel. We shot out of the hotel parking lot and I mean we flew! Israelis drive really fast and get in and out of traffic anyway they can. I saw a car get up on the sidewalk at one point! All the cars are small and a blend of American, Japanese etc...type cars. The drivers honk and jump in and out of lanes but they aren't emotional like Americans - no road rage - just HONK - I"M COMIN THROUGH!!!
We drove over to Jerusalem and what a sight to see road signs displaying Hebron, Beer Sheba, Jerusalem – all of the cities of the Bible! Israelis love America and anything western so everyone is very friendly and polite. We passed right through…of course Eli (our tour guide) pointed out “Calvary Hill”, “Mount of Olives” and Mt. Moriah (Dome of the Rock). But I knew we would be touring Jerusalem later in the week so I wasn’t too sad not to stop.
Jerusalem is so amazing – so incredibly old and when I pictured Christ walking the very streets it was overwhelming. So next we headed out into the Judean dessert – driving alongside the West Bank and we eventually hit the Dead Sea. We stopped there and what a surprise that it was a real beach…It was gorgeous. Which was surprising, since I always pictured dead as in ugly. We found a spot and several had brought their swim suits and hopped in where you could find a spot. It felt wonderful. I could see how the Dead Sea could have healing powers . The water smells somewhat like sulphur and people come from all over the world to dip in the waters. On the way out there – Eli pointed out the “green and blue license plates” which are Palestinian cars and yellow is Israeli. I was amazed because I didn’t think there was any interaction between the two warring factions but actually that is not true. There was a lively group of them right next to us – dancing and laughing.One of them came over and spoke with our (Jewish) driver and wanted to know what nationality we were – he didn’t believe for some reason we were Americans and kept saying Rumanian? Rumanian?!! We also saw the funniest sight – the Moslem women would get in the water with their full garb on including head scarf! And her sons would consistently push her into the water, they were having such a good time. It was amazing.
You come out with all this black and green mud on you so what a mess! We laughed and they posed for photographs. This is my mother and the mud man.
Farther into the dessert we headed – stopping to photograph camels and gazelles along the way. We came to a border crossing area close to Jordan and I saw a sentinel with a M16. I asked Eli if we would be allowed to cross over and he said we could probably with American passports but he wouldn’t be able to although they are at peace relatively with Jordan.
On down to Masada. Did you see the movie?? I didn’t but wow! Here we were in King Herod’s fortress and the famous battle place where people took their lives instead of being made slaves by the Romans. Incredibly, so much of it is still original – 2000 years ago. Mom was exhausted from the intense heat and walking so she plopped down in one of his “spas”…I can tell you I sure never thought I would be in such a place!! The view was amazing and you could see for miles – it was easy to see why he chose this place.
In case you need one more reminder-more photos on flickr.