6:03 pm

Steps – 10,444
Miles – 4.42

The gray skies have returned to the Dead Sea.  Well, I’m not exactly sure they even left to be honest.  For most of the day I’ve been up in norther Jordan Valley, and loving it all.  The bag is sort of packed (and overweight – I gave up trying to bring it into compliance).  Lufthansa does not allow a second bag for free (a ding against them for future tours) and they do weight carry-ons (a second ding against them) so I figured, why load up my carry-on have that to deal with on all three flights home, so I just loaded up my big suitcase and let them slug it around.  It was going to be overweight anyway.

We left this morning after an amazing breakfast in the dining room.  Only 5 of us were ready to brave this last day of touring.  So we had a very large bus for just a small handful.  Our replacement guide was very nice – Samir.  He’s a Greek Orthodox elderly gentleman.  Very nice.  His facts differ some from Sam, but hey, facts can be flexible, right?

We headed up the Jordan Valley, an interesting site to see from the Jordanian side.  The Israeli side is dry and barren, with hardly any inhabitants.  The Jordanian side is full of small villages and people and is green with crops.  It’s a great drive up.  It wasn’t all that clear, but it was good because we could always see across the valley.

In about 90 minutes we were approaching our first stop – Pella.  Pella is one of the ten cities of the Decapolis.  We visited the only city west of the Jordan River, and now we were going to visit one high on the hills with a stunning view of the city of the west – Bet Shean (Scythopolis).  But as we were getting out of the bus, the skies was growing ever darker.  But it wasn’t too bad. And, it NEVER rains in May.  So hey, I left my rain jacket on the bus – and took nothing but my hat an camera.

We saw the highlights of Pella and the stunning views across the Jordan.  It is a great little site, actually.  And then it began to sprinkle.  So we decided we ought to head back to the bus.  Especially since we could also hear some thunder.  The rain picked up.  As did our pace.  And the thunder.

Soon it was just pouring on us.  The Jordanians were thrilled.  The tourists were drenched.  It kept getting heavier and heavier, so we stopped at this little series of housing, but the gate was locked.  So we all just leaned up against the wall and it provided some relief.  Soon, however, the storm was so intense, the wall provided no shelter.  So we just made a run for the bus.  Well, I ran.  The others followed.  You had to watch where you put your feet as the ground was getting slippery and the “rivers” beginning to flow.  I decided to just make a full sprint out of it.

Back on the bus I was completely soaked.  As the others arrived, so were they.  Samir was laughing, we all were actually.  We’d made a memory we’ll never forget.  And we were soaked to the bone.  To the bone.  Soon the bus was on its way up the hill some more, where there was a little restaurant/rest area where we could dry out a bit and get some tea.  It was just sprinkling by the time we arrived – and it wasn’t more than five minutes away.  Our timing was impeccable.
We got out of the bus and went into the shelter.  It was quite a nice place, actually.  Rustic yet not.  We had tea.  Used the restrooms.  And sat on the breezy patio so we could dry out a bit.  The rain was done for the day.  But we were not.
Back on the bus for I think at least a 90-minute drive to Jerash.  I decided to take off my t-shirt and put on my rain jacket.  At least it might be more comfortable in the bus. And it was.  As we got to Jerash, it had to have been at least an hour, I put that cold, wet t-shirt back on.  I figured it would dry quicker on me than anywhere else at that point.

I must say that the drive to Jerash was really beautiful.  The hills were huge and the farms beautiful.  Lots of oak trees and olive trees and villages here and there.  It was quite a lovely drive, and quite the contrast to the drive of yesterday.  It was just lovely.

We made it to Jerash and began our tour.  This place is HUGE.  Unbelievable huge.  The five of us were overwhelmed (well, I’d been there before so it is not so overwhelming on the return trip).  It wasn’t even too crowded, so that was nice.
We walked through Hadrian’s Arch.  The hippodrome.  The central square.  Cardo.  Market. Theater.  Temple to Zeus.  And we walked over the top of the tel where not much excavation had been done.  It was a really nice visit and everyone really had a great time.

Back to the bus for a short ride to lunch (it was now 2 pm).  I’d been to the place before and it was a good lunch.  The special feature here was the fresh, homemade bread.  We watched them make it, then we got to eat it. A  lot of it.  It is the thin large “pita” bread.  Sooooo good.

After lunch it was another hour or so through Amman and peek at the Jabbok River.  And then down to our hotel at the Dead Sea.  Time to pack.  Pack some more. And then give it all up and just pay the overweight charges.  Grrrr.
Dinner starts at 7 (I’ll be late).  We are to have our bags out at 10:30 and meet in the lobby at 10:45.  It’s an hour to the airport in Amman.  Then we have all that stuff to do.  Our flight is at 3:10 am.  We fly to Frankfurt.  Frankfurt to Munich.  Then Munich to LAX (on the A380).  We should arrive at LAX at 3 pm on Wednesday.  Just 12 hours after we leave Jordan.  Yeah, right.

It’s been one grand trip.  Folks have really enjoyed it and we have seen all aspects of the land of the Bible.  But, now, it is time to get home.  I can’t wait.

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