This had been an incredible busy tour packed full of Israel. Our skilled and calm driver, an Arab Muslim named something that sounds like Mohi, has crisscrossed the country while the knowledgeable Israeli Jew guide pointed out the political, biblical, and historical sights. This is a harsh mountainous land with only a few verdant valleys. Sometimes all the sights run together, and I hope I am accurate in giving today's account. After we packed and left the hotel in Tiberius, our first stop was Gideon's spring. Then we went to an interesting tel, an archeological dig that exposed lovely remnants of a Roman settlement.
We stopped for lunch in a Bedouin area. Across from the "restaurant" there was a little shop with two camels hitched to a post beside it. I liked the contrast of the old and new ways of transportation.We had a really sweet stop by the Jordan River at the place it is believed that John the Baptist baptized Jesus. There are tourists like me all around, giving me a warm and loving feeling. They are from all over, speaking different languages, following different religious customs, singing songs of praise in different languages. It was all so lovely. In this picture you see baptizing going on. By the way, the Jordan River is really quite narrow, chilly and cold but not deep and wide.In the mid afternoon, we "went up" to Jerusalem. Driving in to the beautiful Holy City was pretty amazing. We will see more of it tomorrow, but for today, we drove through it and up to Bethlehem, which in 2011 does not seem very nice or friendly. Our guide, the Israeli, was not permitted in because of political reasons, something like he had not filled out the proper paperwork, so a Bethlehemite got on and after more driving, led us to and through the Church of the Nativity. Apparently the church was built over the site where Jesus was actually born. We spent a long time in line, again groups of people from all over the globe, and eventually got to see the sacred spot which was in a hole. In explanation, there are many layers of history, one on top of another.
When we arrived at home, for the next few nights the Leonardo Hotel in Jerusalem, I think all thirty-two of us headed as quickly as possible to the buffet. I am now sitting in the lobby listening to relaxing, piped in Porgy and Bess tunes.