Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Road to Jerusalem

The day turned out to be longer than we anticipated but not in a bad way!  The whole itinerary took 12 hours - hence the delay in posting these.  But long bus journeys help!


The day started early - again! I've left my watch on UK time and seeing it was only 4am didn't help!

However, I ate my last breakfast by the Galilee. If you told me that I'd enjoy eating taramasalata (is that how you spell it?! Will it be in spellcheck?) for breakfast I'd have denied it before my first trip to the Holy Land but somehow it just fits perfectly. Especially with a pile of olives and some delicious soft cheeses! Oh and pitta bread! Then the whole meal is rounded off with a piece of honeycomb and fresh grapefruit. Yummy! I'll start the diet later!

We saw a stunning but very noisy kingfisher as we left Tiberias. Its colouring was just spectacular. Dark turquoise back, bright white chest and vivid red beak. (I have a photo!)

So we've already seen Jordan - that makes it three other countries in the last 24hrs. The proximity of these borders really does give you an idea of the way in which the topography moulds the politics. Never has the expression cheek by jowl seemed more appropriate.

Khalil has just explained about Bet She'an being a pagan, Philistine place where historically the Israelites didn't travel through - as we did. As a result their journey was made longer by the detour. Hearing about the battle near there at Gilboa and how King David cut down Saul's body after it had hung three days and then burnt it seems more real - and in this heat - more putrid. Its easier to imagine the raw brutality.

Make that five countries - we're now in Palestine. The contrast is immediate. Five minutes ago I saw fields being watered - though as a keen gardener I would always water at sunset myself! Here the greenhouses lie abandoned. We're now driving parallel to the border between Palestine and Jordan and the contrast between the two sides of the river. The far side is green and covered with greenhouses - literally thousands of them. This side is yellow and barren. Flocks of goats graze on the dry grass. Of course one is more evocative of the land that Christ knew - though I imagine the banks were always farmed with such a ready water supply.

Apparently there are two camels waiting to be ridden at Jericho - Shoo shoo and Mi shoo! I think I'll give that treat a miss!

I nearly forgot to mention last night! We gathered on the terrace tocollect all the gifts for the orphange and hear about the second half of our pilgrimage. As we started to listen gardually everyone's attention diverted to a huge honey golden moon that was rising over the hills on the other side of the lake. It quickly became clear that all talking should cease! Moon rise is spectacular - not least because you can watch it all without fear of damaging your sight.

We went through an Israeli checkpoint and saw the most incredible as we headed to the River Jordan. An abandoned church stood in the middle of a minefield but on the Jordanian side of the there were three Orthodox churches, two resplendent with shiny gold domes. We renewed our baptismal vows and had water from the Jordan splashed or crossed onto our heads. We sang a hymn the third verse of which is really pertinent:

We are pilgrims on a journey and companions on the road we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

Then it was off to stop two on our itinerary today. Qumeran where a shepherd found the Dead Sea Scrolls. Khalil had met the man before he died and he retold the whole story. We walked round the site and I had to shield my eyes from the glare off the white stones abd soil beneath our feet. They are still excavating the site but scholars think that John the Baptist might have been one of the community for a short while. It does make sense in many ways...

Bring on Masada!

No comments:

Post a Comment