10:25 pm

Steps – 6,572
Miles – 2.72

Back in my room after a very long dinner.  And a lovely view across the Dead Sea.  It was just a perfect evening. Slight breeze.  Not warm, not cool.  The haze of the day has evaporated – so we could see the lights of Jericho, Qumran, En Gedi, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.  Who could not stand in wonder (and review the trip) for a while.  So we did.  Now I shall pay the price.  But not all that much happened today, so this may not take too long.

We were up…well, I should say, I was up at 6:45.  Some were at breakfast at 6:30 when it opened, I was not one of them.  But I packed up and got dressed and had my luggage out early.  Then down to breakfast.  And, it was amazing again.  There were three groups leaving this morning (ever half an hour) so the place was a little busy.  I didn’t get an omelet today (the line was always too long….like 3-5…so not that long, but….).  There were plenty of other options from which to choose. And I did.

We were all on the bus with luggage identified before 8:30.  Sam (the guide) was the last one on the bus.  Wow, that’s a first.  Before too long we were rolling down the streets of Petra.  Kevin did a great devotional from 1 Timothy 4 about watching over your heart and your ministry.  It was great.

Then we were on the road until noon I guess.  Oh, we stopped at this monster castle built by the Crusaders in the 1200’s or so.  It was called (and I’m not going to get the name right) Mt. Real.  Well, I just looked it up.  It is called Montreal Castle (yes, like the Canadian city).  It was pretty large and stuck on the top of a mountain/hill.  We saw it and took pictures and then headed back to the main road.

The ride was long, but we stopped a couple of times for restrooms.  I need to put in the prep material that ladies might want to bring toilet seat covers and even some toilet paper with them next year.  This year’s crew found some spots without either, and they would have like to have some.  Note to self.

We finally arrived at Wadi Mujib, the biblical Arnon River.  The river separates Moab from Ammon.  We just think of a river being a border – but it is a huge canyon, definitely a border that would be hard to breach.  The tops of the canyons are separated by miles – probably five at least.  It is a huge gorge with this tiny river at the bottom (the Jordanians have built a dam to stop the water from flowing freely into the Dead Sea.

Anyway, our trek continued.  After that (at least I think it was after that) the sky began to dump on us.  It really didn’t last all that long, but it did include hail.  It was windy and rainy, but I think we just drove through it.  It was a nice change of pace.  Sam said he had NEVER EVER seen rain in May. Ever.  We did.

In one town, those of us in the back of bus may have been the only ones who heard it – but some teens stood on the side of the road and chucked rocks at the bus. And it is a big target so they hit us.  A couple of times.  Kind of scary, actually.  But we interpreted it as something kids do to large buses, not necessarily political motivated.

By the time we got back to Madaba we stopped in a newer-ish mosaic shop.  Some wanted to stop.  It was with a restaurant next door.  We are all still feeling ok, so we aren’t sick from it….but it was not all that great.  Some thought it was fine.  Most did not.  They did have fresh falafel which was tasty. I mean what wouldn’t taste good right out of the fryer in front of your eyes.

During lunch our guide got a call from someone.  His mom had a heart attack and was now in the hospital.  He was pretty upset (understandably).  He said he would get us to the hotel (half an hour away) and get us checked in and then go to Amman to be with her.  He arranged a replacement guide for tomorrow.  I made the announcement on the bus and we prayed for him and his mom.

We got to the hotel by 3 pm I guess.  It’s nice and it’s big.  Overwhelming a little.  Got in our rooms (some had trouble with cleanliness and broken switches).  But my room was fine and so I went down to the Sea.  Mud all over me first.  Then a long dip in the Dead Sea.  Then a rinse off and trip to the regular pool.

Then back for a long shower and some quiet time (and I uploaded pix to the website).  I left for dinner (it opened at 7) a little early and took a stroll down to the Promenade overlooking the Dead Sea.  I was early for the sunset, but there was a cloud bank over Israel that kept me from seeing the sun as it was actually going to set.  But it was lovely.  And I stayed a while to just enjoy the view and the clouds.  Debbie eventually joined me and we enjoyed the view.  After that was done we headed to the dining room for dinner.  I thought I’d be the last one there….but wasn’t even close to being last.  Oh well.

Dinner is quite a spread here.  So.  Much.  Food.  And it was delicious.  We ate slow and long.  Kevin, Luann, Mark and I stayed around way too long talking.  Then we headed back to the Promenade to watch the lights of Israel across the Dead Sea.  It was just a lovely evening.  Hopefully, I’ll be back there again tomorrow night with that same view.  Last view.

Not sure how many are going to tour tomorrow.  It may not be very many.  The bus ride was tough today and folks are tired of it that part.  So they many stay and enjoy the hotel in preparation for the long flight home which begins as we leave the hotel at 11 pm tomorrow.  Exactly 24 hours from now.  That’s just a long trip.  But it’s been a great two weeks walking through the land.  Amazing, actually.  Stories will be told for a long time.  And no one on this trip will ever read their Bibles in the same way again.  It’s been a successful trip!

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