8:51 pm

Whew!  Another day under our belt.  Only one more to go – and it’s a doozy, I must say.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – and walk through today first.

We were up before the sun – and while the full moon was setting over the hills of Edom.  It was a lovely morning.  Once again we enjoyed an amazing breakfast.  Freshly made omelets and waffles, tons of fruit and sweet rolls and cheeses and salads, yes salads – we are still in the Middle East.  It was just yummy.

We were out to the bus by 7 am.  Really?  It was true.  And “the on time group” was even early.  We were on our way out of the Moevenpick Petra in not too long and through the streets of the city as Don Shoff provided a wonderful devotional.  Good focus for the start of the day.

View back toward Petra
View back toward Petra
Our first stop (of just a couple, really) was a short one at an overlook of the city of Petra – and the mountains which we conquered on that brutal hike yesterday.  We could see about where the entrance to Petar/siq was located – and the mountain on which Aaron was buried, well there is a memorial to him at that peek, and the view point up to which we climbed yesterday.  The seven of us anyway.  It was great to put it all into perspective.  And it was another beautiful morning in Jordan.
By the way, we were all moving pretty good today, with not too many lingering consequences to that uphill hike from yesterday.  Though I think we are all still a bit tired.

We were back on the bus soon enough – we have our tourist policeman with us again.  Ruby says they have to report in more frequently, so they are with us every day (or they don’t get paid).  On previous trips they’d board at the border and then ride for a while and we may not see them again.  They’ve been providing these guys for 20 years and want to make the tourists feel safe.  We do – but not because of the police.  At least I don’t think so.  Anyway, he is back with us and we are on our way to the Dead Sea once again.

There was one rest stop along the way – for the water closet (tho there is one on the bus if you were wondering) and snacks and shopping.  We did all three, of course.  Back on the bus and our next stop was in Madaba.  We drove by the sites we had seen on Saturday, but we stopped on a rather ordinary street.  The bus driver got off and went over to a small shop and bought a bunch of bananas.  Then we stopped at another shop and picked up a bunch of large round bread (it has a name, but it escapes me and won’t mean anything to you anyway). 

Banana Sandwich
Banana Sandwich
Ruby cut the bread into quarters and then gave us each a piece and one fresh banana.  We peeled the banana and then wrapped the flat, round bread around the banana to make a sandwich.  Her kids love it I guess.  It was good and it was cheap (Ruby paid for all the fixings) and it tied us over until dinner.  It was good.  Maybe some Nutella would have been a nice touch.  Or peanut butter.  But she wanted to save us some money and time.  Besides, Andre never bought us lunch in Israel – so we are liking Ruby right about now.

After “lunch” on the go – we were headed to the mosaic factory.  It is actually quite interesting to learn how they make mosaics.  They are sure time consuming – but beautiful.  Of course, you can purchase as many as you’d like after the “tour.”  We weren’t that great of customers.  Oh well.  Our suitcases are full and heavy.  Most likely, too heavy.  But that is a problem for tomorrow.  Manana.

Back on the bus and off to Mt. Nebo.  We learned not too long after we had arrived that today was the first day tourist were allowed back onto the site – and into the newly remodeled church.  The dedication was Saturday (the King did not come).  Sunday it was closed.  So – today was the first day the church was open for tourists, a church nine years in the making.  When we got inside they were even training the guides on how to guide.  It was interesting to watch all the dynamics.

But before we went into the church, we did what we came for – to take a look at the view.  It wasn’t all that clear today – but you could see the Dead Sea below and the outline of some of the hills of Judah.  It is a wonderful overlook though.  We read the last chapter of Deuteronomy together and thought about the passing of Moses in the area in which we were visiting – and the impact of that event on the Israelites.  Transitions are always tough.

Mt. Nebo (church)
Mt. Nebo (church)
When we got into the church one thing struck me right away.  Ok, well, two.  First, they did a stunning job.  Light wood and stone took over where the original stones stopped (about a third of the way up the wall).  But the light wood just kept your attention down where it should be – on the floor.  They had uncovered some really beautiful third century mosaics under the sixth century floors on the top.  They put the newer ones on the wall and displayed the older ones on the floor.  It was lovely.  Really.  Lots to look at and some things to explore.

But what really struck me almost simultaneously was that this really isn’t a church – this is a museum.  There were no chairs anywhere to be found.  Everything was displayed like things in the Israel Museum.  It was truly lovely – but it gave the first impression of being a truly dead church.  It might not be I suppose, but that was my initial thought.

Out of the church and through a small museum (that was all there was to see whenever I was here before – well, that and the view).  Back to the bus. 

We had about half an hour trek down from Mt Nebo to our hotel on the Dead Sea. Check-in was interesting.  They x-rayed all our bags.  They wanted to charge big bucks (like $50) if you had any wine in your luggage (which some did – as gifts for back home).  But they wanted to make sure you didn’t bring wine to drink and not buy theirs.  I assured them that wasn’t the case.  And they let us slide.  This time.  Oh, and they didn’t like the two pairs of binoculars in the luggage.  We cannot use them at this hotel.    We are not exactly sure why that was an issue.  Our best guess is the prevention of gawking since most all rooms overlook the largest pools in Jordan.

But we finally made it to our rooms (we had to switch because ours wreaked of smoke).  There is lots and lots of smoking over here, btw.  Then we changed and headed down for a swim in the Dead Sea.  It is a much more enjoyable experience on this side, actually.  The water is deep and cooler  Which is both good.  And, they have free mud available – so I mudded up.  They said I’d look 10 years younger after the mud treatment.  Alas, it didn’t’ work.  But I have this awful rash on both my legs – and the salt water didn’t hurt, but we are just hoping it helped to heal it up.  I’m not alone in the rash department either.  We aren’t sure exactly what’s going on.

Back to the room after a quick dip in the infinity pool (which was refreshingly cool).  Shower.  Rest.  Relax.  Oh yes, I can see Israel from my balcony – so I am one happy camper.

Sunset -- with Herodium
Sunset -- with Herodium
We decided to go down to the promenade and watch the sun set over Israel.  The gal told us sunset was about 6:30.  We said we’d go about 6, just to be sure.  We even left a little early, but just caught the last few minutes of the sun as it set at 5:50.  It was one quick setting – but we got a couple of good pictures.  Tomorrow, we’ll go at 5:30 an enjoy the show.

We lingered down there until it was time for dinner (7 pm).  It was nice to see the lights of Israel begin to come on slowly but surely.  You could see Herodium for sure and the Mt. of Olives. And then, just the lights down in the Judean desert – and then the lights of Jericho and Jerusalem.  So good to see Jerusalem again.  Even from way over here.

Dinner was probably one of the top three dinners of the trip.  Nothing can probably top the dinner at the Ambassador Hotel.  So this was probably #2.  The food selection was huge – and it was all very, very delicious.  I had salmon, steak, lamb, tempura fish, a touch of pasta – well, salad, of course.  And I just barely sampled all the selections.  It wa amazing.  And the deserts were great too.

We had another Air Drop party to catch folks us on pix from the week.  By 8 pm we were all exhausted and ready to head to bed.  Our wakeup call is at 5:30 (ugh!), breakfast at 6:30, and on the bus by 7:30. I may shave some time off of that – but it is still an early day, not matter how you slice it.

And the day may not end until we are back in LA.  We leave for the airport at 11 pm tomorrow night. We have layovers in Frankfurt and Newark – after our 3 am departure from Ammon.  That really doesn’t sound like all that much fun.  We get back to LAX just before 7 pm on Wednesday.  And I sure hope I’ll be ready for bed!

But though exhausted, we’ll be enriched from spending two weeks together – and to walk in so many places together.  It really has been an amazing couple of weeks.  And we have one last day of touring on Tuesday.  Sweet.

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