I went on a tour to the Dead Sea area last week. We went to Qumran; saw the Essene village and the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Then we “did” Masada. I took the aerial tram to the top… some of the group walked up the “snake trail”, I don’t know how long that took, but I was there to see the archeology… not to prove I could climb a mountain in the desert without having a massive coronary! Anyway, it was really interesting. I got the audio tour and learned a lot about the history. I just LOVE ancient ruins!
From Masada we went to the Dead Sea. It was a cool thing to float in the water…. you really don’t sink! I didn’t think to put sunscreen on my shoulders because I usually like to stand in the water up to my chin and keep my shoulders out of the sun. In the Dead Sea, I couldn’t GET my shoulders under the water! Luckily, the atmosphere is so thick that far below sea level, the sun’s rays are weaker. The level of the Dead Sea has definitely dropped. The restaurants and piers are 20 or 30 feet above the current sea level. It was a long climb down! I took home a half liter of water and boiled it down, to make my own “Dead Sea Bath Salts”. There’s like a cup of salt left over!
We ate lunch in Jericho, where there are ruins from what they say is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world… 10,000 years old or so. It was in Jericho that I realized my mind has switched to thinking in “shekels”. We were quoted the price for lunch in dollars…. $15 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. Now, that’s much more than I usually spend on a lunch and there wasn’t an a la carte option. It was either buffet or nothing at all, and I was hungry! THEN the host mentioned that if we wanted to pay in shekels it would be 55 shekels. Hey! 55 shekels! That’s not a bad price at all! Of course it’s almost the exact same price, but somehow it sounded much more reasonable in shekels! Go figure!
We also visited the ruins of the 1300 year old Hisham’s Palace and the Tree of Zacchareus which was mentioned in the New Testament in a story about Jesus.
This week I also met the son and daughter-in-law of my friend, Edme. Yoel and Laura are wonderful! They are Messianic Jews… they are from a Jewish heritage but have come to accept Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. They both told me very beautiful and compelling stories about how they came to accept Jesus and how God brought the two of them together. As you probably already know, I am a pretty staunch agnostic, but I am always fascinated by what other people believe! I am coming to understand that my “belief” in science and things that can be “proved” is as MUCH of a “belief” as another person’s “belief” in things (like God) that can’t be “proved”. It was nice to hear the stories of this couple who are so enthusiastic in their beliefs… and willing to let me retain mine! We had a nice dinner out and then went to their apartment for homemade fruit sorbet. Laura is a talented singer and guitarist and entertained us with a couple of songs. I’m really glad I met them and hope to see them again!
Today I went into the Old City… it was really crowded around the Holy Sepulcher and I couldn’t figure out WHY it was so crowded on a Monday. It finally occurred to me that it wasn’t Monday… it was SUNDAY! With Saturday being the Sabbath here, Sunday is the beginning of the week! I get confused!
Life’s a trip!