The West Bank and beyond.

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Look mom no hands

With Jerusalem behind us we passed into the West Bank, through checkpoints20140501_105354 and into Palestine. Our ears popped as we descended to the Dead Sea, some 400 meters below sea level.

Jordan from the Dead Sea

Jordan from the Dead Sea

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The start of the Snake Path

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Roman camp below

With the Judean Desert on our right and the Dead Sea to our left we continued our journey to Masada. As we drove we could see Jordan on the other side of the Dead Sea and thought about how we could take a side trip.  After some thinking, a check of the time and confirming we needed a Visa we opted to stay on course.  As we approached Masada and watched it grow in size and started to rethink our goal of hiking the 2 kilometer snake path with its 700+ steps and 350 meters of altitude change.  Maybe the way to the top of this isolated rock cliff fortress is the cable car?  DSC_3859

In the end we set off to make our noon assent with our water bottles, a hat and no sunscreen (I forgot to pack it in our rush, sorry Alice, but at least we packed it).DSC_3868

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Steps down to a cistern

The view from the top was amazing and made all the books, stories and movie come to life.  Without giving a history lesson, let me just say Jake and I were blown away, Masada is an absolute must-see.

We opted for the packed cable car for the return and the view!

 

After a quick swim, well maybe a quick float in the Dead  Sea we were on our way to Jericho. The Dead Sea is dead because its salinity prevents the existence

Dead Sea Swim

Light as a feather

Swim in the Dead Seaof any life forms.  It was all that keep us from sinking.  It was really cool floating without moving at all.

 

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Monastery of the Temptation Overlooking the Jordan Valley Cut in to Mount of Temptation

They say a tour of the Dead Sea region would not be complete without a visit to the amazing monasteries built on the cliff walls.  Due to our lack of time, we did what I like to call “check box 20140501_161536tourism”. We drove to Jericho “the oldest city of the world”, snapped a picture of the monasteries perched halfway up aformidable cliff and 20140501_162854were on our way, but not before we were sucked in to some “must see” historical site (run and under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority), that looked like a gravel parking lot to both Jake and me.  Next time I would take a cable car to the monasteries and try and avoid the town.

20140501_191720Back to the hotel and the old city to explore the other 3 quarters Christian, Jewish and Armenian.  Dinner was made up of picking something up from all the different food vendors 20140501_202151along the way.  We grazed our way to the Armenian Quarter the smallest of the quarters skipping the museums (assuming
Aunt Lisa would give Jake the low down).  Poked our heads into dozens of churches in the Christian Quarter. Explored an excavated old market street before ending in the Jewish Quarter for a snack of falafel and an excuse to rest our feet after walking about 12 miles and standing in line for two and a half hours!20140501_172820

At some point we passed the Garden Tomb an oasis from the heat and desert atmosphere.  Best described in John 19:41 “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid”. 

Note: Free admission

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A VIEW FROM THE TOP !

About JSH

There are more than 195 countries in the world by my count and I want to see them all before they all start to look the same – The United Nations has 192 members, but they do not recognized two independent countries, the Vatican City and Kosovo. U.S. Department of State recognizes 194 independent countries around the world, but their list has a political agenda and is missing Taiwan. All of this is without getting into the dozens of territories and colonies that are sometimes called “countries” such as Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Greenland, Palestine, Western Sahara, and even the components of the United Kingdom (such as Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England) and without counting states and provinces like Texas and Montréal that think they are independent countries. No madder how you count or tag them they are changing, starting to look the same and losing a little bit of themself every day. I do not want to see the world through the eyes of Las Vegas or Disney, like reading the Cliff Notes of a Hemingway novel; you get the idea but miss the point! Life is short, but how long live is up to you…
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