Wednesday, February 25, 2015

FInal Posting- Combined Days

This posting will combine the final three days of the trip while in Israel.  The second part of the group is currently at the airport preparing for their flight home.  I will detail some of what was seen for both days.

First, our trip to Petra on Monday.  We were on the road by 7:15; crossed the border at Aqaba; met our guide Omar, and boarded a bus for the two plus hour trip to Petra.  We learned a little about Jordan along the way and saw its sparsely inhabited desert region.  We also crossed some high mountains with snow still left from the recent storm.  Closer to Petra we saw the peak where tradition says Aaron died and was buried.  Then we arrived at the Nabatean stronghold of Petra.  A few people took the horse drawn carriage down the mile and a quarter trek to the Treasury Building.  The rest of us walked and listened to Omar explain all the history behind the tombs and gods of the Nabateans; their perfume and incense trading; and about the bedouins who still live in the caves there.

Moses would have led the Israelites up through this part of Jordan before they crossed into the Promised Land.  He died north of here on Mt. Nebo.  The Romans conquered Petra on their third attempt and enlarged the theater here.  It appears the town held up to 800 to 1000 people at one time in its history.  We saw sand art being done and some rode camels.  It was a fun day.

We arrived back home in Israel and to our hotel for supper.  It was a long but interesting day.

Tuesday was our free day.  Some shopped; some of us did a dive; others visited local attractions; and others simply rested.

Today, the group departed the hotel around 10:00.  After stopping for Ice Cream at a dairy in the desert, we visited Mitzpe Ramon, a crater area in the desert that is named in honor of the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon.  He was killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in 2003.  The desert area around this canyon peak is the meeting point of the Desert of Zin (or Sin) and the Desert of Paran.  These are two of the areas where the Israelites wandered for their forty years.  It is a desolate and hard area.

The group then visited the desert tomb of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.  It was his dream that many Jews would come to the desert to live and cause it to bloom as the prophets predicted.  He chose to live here after his retirement and is buried here.  It is an amazing view from his tomb toward the desert.

After a final stop at the Elah Valley, where David slew Goliath, the group stopped for supper at Abu Gosh and then went to the airport.  We were all grateful for Reuben and Adi and their help and care during our time in Israel.  They both were gems.

Pictures from our final days:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Parting of the Ways

Today, thirteen of the group headed home.  The other twenty of us headed south to the resort city of Eilat.  Located at the very southern tip of Israel, Eilat sits adjacent to the Jordanian port city of Aqaba.  Because of the rain and snow melt, we could not travel the normal route along the Dead Sea area.  The road was closed at several locations.  We traveled through Area A, a Palestinian Authority control area that took us around Bethlehem, by Hebron and Arad and south from there.  We reconnected with Route 90 at the southern edge of the Dead Sea.

We stopped at Timna Park to see and hear about the Tabernacle of God. A full scale replica is set up at Timna.  The explanation given was the most powerful and complete we have ever heard.  If you would like to read more about it, check it out here:

The Negev desert has a stark but amazing beauty to it.  We saw camels, sheep, a fox, antelope and ostriches along the way.  We ate lunch and got ice cream at one of the kibbutzim that is a dairy in the desert.  Prior to stopping at our hotel, we traveled just a mile or so beyond to see the Egyptian border with Israel at the Taba crossing.  This was the fourth and final border we have been to between Israel and each of her neighbors.

Tomorrow it is on to Jordan, and Petra.