Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Road to Jerusalem - at last!

We left the Dead Sea stopping briefly to take a photo of the magical mirror-like quality of the water. We chased a sighting of an ibex but only found more hyrax! I could understand why the ibex weren't wandering around - it was sooo hot! Any sensible ibex would be in the shade somewhere having a siesta!

Two more stops to take in before our destination. The first was Jericho where we saw the monastery on the Mount of Temptation and then did some shopping in a local co-operative. I got carried away and bought some saffron...

Then a brief journey to St George's Monastery. Part of it was the old road to Jericho. It was very windy and steep so gave a sense of what the path that features in the Parable of the Good Samaritan would've been like. The landscape was almost unreal, weather smoothed chalk hills with only scant vegetation looked more like a lunar scene.

The extra detour was worth it. Yet again I feel like I'm running out of superlatives. The monastery clung to the side of the valley. It was huge from where we were standing above it looking down. The bottom of the valley was full of palm trees and other plants. It was just mystical. A place of hospitality and peace. A place of welcome and refreshment.

As we got back into the coach I could only describe my feelings as that of utter satiation. How can a day provide more than that...?

As a postscript to that when we arrived at the hotel McCabe had arranged for Paul and Katie to be greeted by champagne - which meant the rest of us got some too!  What a fantastic end to the day!  We met on the roof garden after supper to share some laughter and enjoy the cool evenings of Jerusalem.

Khalil came out with another profound saying:  as we reached Jerusalam he said "welcome home. We don't live in Jerusalem, Jerusalem lives in us."

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