Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 9: Dead Sea, Masada, Bedouin Camp & Be'er Sheba

Another busy day, but not too crazy (by comparison to some of our previous days!) The joke is that we are running where Jesus walked. I love that we are fitting so many wonderful places into our trip, if only we could do it all! (But that would take an entire sabbatical (if not longer!))

One picture from yesterday. I always wondered what I’d look like with dreadlocks, here’s a close approximation (with all the mud in my hair!)
Today started with a run from our hotel to the main “center” about 2 miles away… then back. Took me ~45 minutes which surprised me as my legs were tired from yesterday’s squats. The air is thicker so it’s much easier to take a breath.

After the run it was off to clean up, grab the “stuff” and head out the door to our days adventures. First up, Masada. Do you know the story? The palace was built by Herod as a “hide out” should the paranoid king think the Jews were coming to get him. He had a few homes like this around and this one would be easily defended up so high.

Dan and I kissing in Herod's Bedroom. Oh-la-la!
After the Romans sacked Jerusalem in ~70 AD, a number of Jews (974) came to Masada to hide out in rebellion from the Romans.
 A few years later, the Romans decided that the revolt had lasted long enough and set out to set the seemingly impenetrable Masada as an example to all Roman citizens everywhere that rebellion would not be tolerated. So, in the winter (cooler) months of 72, the Romans came to Masada. They built a three foot wall all the way around Masada with massive encampments to house the soldiers.

Here, you can see the wall and ruins of the Roman encampment.
Then they used Acacia trees to build a frame that they filled with rocks and finally used a battering ram to enter the city. The Jews, knowing what was coming had a hard choice to make. To let their women and children become slaves to the Roman empire or death. Tragically they opted for death and each man killed his wife and children. The final 10 selected soldiers then drew lots to see who would kill the 9th and then himself. Yeeowza… crazy story.
Cable ride to the top of Masada, in the summer it's too hot to hike unless you go way early. No opportunity for me to hike, or I certainly would have done so!

Masada was later used as home to the Romans and monks and others. It is an INCREDIBLE city with an AMAZING view… not sure I could live there but I agree with Herod, it would make a cool get-away home.

Some of the ruins of Masada: there were tons of buildings and an elaborate water system! Very well thought out... but I'd never have survived in those days. Too much walking! :)
Next up, lunch at a Bedouin Camp. We arrived and were treated to a camel ride. Being ON the camel with the camera I didn’t get any pictures of us, but others did. So, here is a picture of our pastor and his wife and their merry band of travelers. The camels didn’t take us far, but it was enough.
My Dad is in the back of the herd in the blue shirt.
Next, we learned Bedouin traditions: For instance, to announce yourself to a Bedouin tent, you walk around the tent coughing. Upon entering, the host who lives in the Bedouin tent makes fresh coffee for you. They first brown the coffee beans over the fire then grind them in a large wooden jar with stick… it almost looks like something you’d use to churn butter. Then you would brew the strong bitter coffee.
 For guests, there would be three servings of coffee… each only a sip or two in the cup. If you receive a cup of coffee that is filled to the brim, that means you have offended your host. You must leave the tent immediately and a mediator would come to negotiate the restitution you would owe the host for the offense. We dined on coffee, sweet tea, unleavened bread, veggies, rice, chicken and beef. It was all fire grilled and delicious!
After our meal, we loaded back into the bus and headed to Be’er Sheba in the Negev, about 30 minutes away and most of us took cat naps. Full belly and desert heat = NAP! Upon arrival, we walked through an ancient city: ~3000 to ~3500 years old. The city was VERY well planned and had an incredible water system.
While this is listed as Be’er Sheba, our tour guide doesn’t think this IS the well Abraham actually dug. He thinks the true well is buried under the nearby Be’er Sheba city. (This well is actually in Sheba). Regardless we got to see the well and trough that Rebekah would have come to, drawing water for Abraham’s servant and camels who was sent on a mission to find Isaac a wife from Abraham’s people.

Tamarisk Tree:
After the tour it was time to return back to the Leonardo Club hotel on the Dead Sea. A quick dip in the Dead Sea has again done wonders for my knees. Then to the pool to cool off and hang out. Did I mention the Dead Sea is bathwater warm? Very cool. We’re calling it an early night as tomorrow we head to Egypt. Our trip is quickly drawing to a close and I’m so sad to see it end, but will be overjoyed to be reunited with the Kiddo. MISS YOU BUDDY!!!
PS: The story of the 100 camels offered for my bride price was shared on the bus today. Someone asked, is that a good price? The answer, according to Kobi, our tour guide, is yes... that would have been a weathy man's offer on a valuable bride. Dan is now rethinking having turned down the offer. ;-)

We've had free wi-fi here at the Leonardo... not sure what Egypt will bring but will try to post at least once more if possible.