Today we boarded the bus at 8:00am and made our way South East to the city of Jericho. We didn’t stop in the city, since it is under Palestinian control, we just hung a right at the highway junction and headed due south alongside the Dead Sea. Our first stop was Qumran, the location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the 1940’s by a Beduin shepherd boy. The story of thier return to Jersualem is full of intrigue and mystery, a story which we heard most of at the Shrine of the Book. The weather was warm and comfortable, and so we just enjoyed being outside under the sun and looking at the caves of the Judean hills.
From the caves we made the obligatory stop at the Ahava factory store, for a washroom break and to purchase some of the cosmetic and skin treatment products on offer, made from the mineral rich clay of the Dead Sea. Some of us sipped coffee and chatted while others simply spent their time shopping. The mineral salts of the Dead Sea have been famous for centuries, including among the ancient inhabitants of this land. We did not see Sodom, mostly because it is located at the southern most tip of the Dead Sea, in the country of Jordan.
From the Ahava factory we moved on to Masada, where we viewed the ancient Herodian ruins, learned about the story of the Jewish rebels who killed each other rather than fall as slaves to the Romans. Our wonderful guide, Rachela, walked us through the story and finally ended her “official guiding duties” by teaching us the phrase, “Masada shall never fall again” in Hebrew. A fitting conclusion to all she has helped us to learn.
Some of us couldn’t resist seeing the Herodian ruins on the Northern slopes of Masada. So, we trekked down about 165 stairs and visited the spot, enjoying what is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular views in all Israel. You will see what I mean from the video.
After a McDonald’s lunch we travelled North again to the Mineral Spring Spa and we dipped in the Dead Sea. Needless to say, the 32 degree heat and the warm salty water were refreshing to the skin and just the break we needed. I’m not sure I look any younger, but it certainly felt great! I just wish it would melt away few of the pounds I have put on as a result of all the buffet eating here. The breakfast meal and the supper meal are buffet, and it is all so good, it’s hard to resist! I have to say I have over indulged on a few occasions!
After bobbing in the Dead Sea, we stopped at a service station and while our driver fueled the bus, several rode on a camel! Next time you stop at the Irving, imagine doing that!
Well, I will leave you with a few other pictures from the day. Try not to have night mares of all of us in the Dead Sea!
Shalom from the City of Zion!