9:26 pm
Ein Bokek, Dead Sea

The day is done – dinner was delicious, and I topped the evening off with a waffle on a stick, drowned in all kinds of toppings.  It was delicious.  The salmon was good tonight too, so there was something healthy, along with the salad.  It was a good – and hot – day. We have traveled south from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.  It is hotter for sure, but it’s a much drier heat.  I suppose that matters.

We started the day putting out our bags for the trek south.  We left on time (maybe even a bit early).  Our first stop was Bet Shean (since we had been to Mt. Arbel on the hectic Capernaum day).  It did free up some time today. 

We dropped some off at the front entrance of Bet Shean, and most of us drove around to the back gate.  I really like coming in the back way because then the Roman city spreads out below you in a magnificent and surprising view.  We talked about Saul’s death and David’s reaction to his suicide on Mt. Gilboa – which is just in view from the top of the tel.  It’s a great site and I love the story from on top of the tel.

Then we worked our way down the steps (and there are a ton of them) and joined most of the others to tour the rest of the site.  This year we saw something I’ve never seen before – the latrines.  They are quite amazing, and nothing like what I’ve seen in other sites around the world.  We all took a seat and Benny explained how they used them.  Someone (Paul Hoesterey) got stuck in the corner, and I think he’s on a “time out” for the rest of the day.

We visited the bath house and theater and cardo. And….it was really hot.  Really hot.  It is always hot at Bet Shean I think.  But it was interesting that we were almost the only tour group there.  It was refreshingly deserted.  The other group we’d been tailing off and on all week.  I guess they were on the same flight as our group (tho I was already here).  It is a group from San Bernardino – and the pastor is Rob Zinn.  Well, I know that name….it was Kurth DeMoss’ old home church as he was growing up.  His folks were quite involved in that church.  We had a chance to touch base in Bet Shean (he’s hurt his back some and laying low at the more strenuous sites).  Small world.

Back on the bus we headed south.  In one of the longer drives of the tour, we followed the Jordan River – it meanders, we do not – down to just opposite Jericho.  We made a left turn and headed down to the Jordan River itself. It is called Qasr al-Yahud.  It’s on the Israeli side of Bethany Beyond the Jordan.  It is at least near where John was preaching and Jesus was baptized.

We got out of the bus (now it is really hot) and four of us got baptized (Paul Hoestery did the honors).  Lynn, Dori, Vicky, and John – all four were baptized in the Jordan.  And then a Czech mom came up and asked if Paul would baptize her daughter.  She was at least 20 I would think and said she knew Jesus as Savior – so Paul did it.  It was a special time.

Then we continued south and stopped next at Qumran.  They are remodeling the tourist center there so it is a bit of a mess.  The crowds were back in full force.  We toured the site first and then had lunch.  I got invited to the guide/driver table – and ate with Benny and Fuoud.  It was good.  And who showed up?  My driver from the last tour – Abed.  He says his wife (who was sick) is still struggling, but at least she’s still hanging in there).

Back on the bus and off to En Gedi, our last stop of the day.  Benny wants to get to the Dead Sea hotel so we can enjoy the amenities.  We only walked a short distance on the trail to En Gedi – to the first waterfall (I’d never stopped there, so I had no idea you could walk only on pavement and actually see a waterfall). The walk/heat were of sufficient difficulty to warrant a Magnum bar upon returning to base camp.  Now, it as only my second of the journey, so that’s better than normal.  The ice cream went down quickly, and we were back on our way to the bus.

As we were pulling out of the driveway a whole flock/herd/whatever of ibex crossed the main road right in front of us.  It was amazing.  We got some pix and then headed off.  It was a nice treat to bid farewell to En Gedi.

We were at our hotel (The Daniel) within half an hour.  The Rob Zinn group beat us there so we had to wait a bit while they all got checked in.  And, they got the prime checkout time in the morning so will beat us to Masada I’m sure.  Bummer.
Most went to the Dead Sea after check-in.  A few got massages.  I should have.  But the swim in the sea was refreshing (well, that may be a stretch because it was so warm), but it does help your skin feel amazing.

Back for a shower to clean up for dinner.  And now we are back to where the blog began.  Dinner was good. Crowded but good.  Many more local tourists here, not just tour groups.  So the buffet lines were tight, but the food was delicious.  Especially the waffles on a stick.

Time to turn in.  Guess what?  We have another full day tomorrow.  Masada.  Arad.  Beersheba.  But…we will end the day in Jerusalem.  Back at the Gloria for me.  There’s nothing like Jerusalem on this trip.

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